[Taxacom] global species lists and taxonomy ( was Re: Draft Checklist ...)

nicky nicolson nicky.nicolson at gmail.com
Thu Aug 29 07:08:42 CDT 2013


Thanks Karen, yes this is what we are working on in botany and mycology -
we are using the nomenclators (IPNI and IF) to provide the fundamental
units (names and the objective relationships between them) and then
supporting multiple overlapping - even contradictory - classifications to
be built using these same fundamental units. We are storing enough data on
the relationships which form the taxonomic classifications to do the kind
of assessments that Fred suggests - e.g. to take into account how recently
the hypothesis was published, who published it and where (e.g. was it a
regional treatment or a globally-scoped monograph).
I did quite a general talk about this at the Natural History Museum in
London recently, video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynFB6DWCBjc and
slides here: http://www.slideshare.net/nickyn/nicolson-namesbackbonenhm
We've a funded project to rebuild Kew's taxonomic systems in this
environment, and we are working on incorporating the World Checklist system
at the moment, although our communications standard is TCS so we should be
able to import / export data from many different sources.
cheers,
Nicky

PS: I'll be at TDWG along with a few people from the Kew team if anybody is
interested in having a closer look.


On 29 August 2013 12:18, Karen Cranston <karen.cranston at gmail.com> wrote:

> It is not too hard to implement this type of system. Both IPNI and Open
> Tree of Life are currently implementing a relatively new graph database
> model (database called neo4j) to load and store multiple hierarchies in the
> same data structure. Then, you can traverse the graph (which contains all
> of the nodes and edges, and therefore all of the conflict) in various ways
> in order to summarize / resolve conflicts / find interesting patterns. You
> could use algorithmic and / or human-curated approaches to annotate or
> resolve parts of the hierarchy, while still keeping all of the information
> from the sources. Visualization libraries like d3 make it easy to create
> images or interactive tools to explore the data in the graph.
>
>
>
> On Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 7:03 AM, Erik Rijkers <er at xs4all.nl> wrote:
>
> > On Thu, August 29, 2013 12:31, Fred Schueler wrote:
> > >
> > > Maybe we want to take a lesson from the physicists' ideas of infinite
> > > parallel universes, and program systems where all published
> > > classifications are represented, but with some sort of combined voting
> > > or weighting by the recency of publication, and wiki-style comments and
> > > discussion, to show users which classifications are more currently
> > > approved and used.
> > >
> >
> > hear, hear!
> >
> > IMHO, this is the only possible way to get usefully stable global lists.
> >
> > It amounts to the realisation that the classification business is
> > producing opinions (however obnoxious this may sound to
> > the taxonomist).
> >
> > So databases should amass these opinions with plenty factual detail but
> > without implicitly endowing any
> > classification-opinion with the distinction of being "fact".
> >
> > It would seem this obvious way of doing taxonomical databases is not too
> > hard to implement but I have never seen it done ,
> > or even acknowledged as necessary.
> >
> >
> >
> > Erikjan Rijkers
> >
> >
> >
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> --
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> karen.cranston at gmail.com
> @kcranstn
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