[Taxacom] Data query, ETC.

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sun Jun 23 21:07:36 CDT 2013


Bee-have, Ken! :)
Firstly, Wikispecies did "have" Ceylalictus, it just didn't have very much info about it, only that it was a valid genus of Halictidae (the genus was listed, as a red link, so no actual page for the genus, as a valid genus on the page for Halictidae). At any rate, Wikispecies certainly has it now, see: http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Ceylalictus The point is not that Wikispecies doesn't have gaps ... of course it does! The point is how quickly and easily those gaps can be filled, compared to say ALA or AFD. Note that your attempted analogy with the Apteropanorpa case fails. Wikispecies did not have a page for Ceylalictus which missed out C. perditellus. No, it just didn't have a page for Ceylalictus, so there was no implication of completeness in this case. THAT was the problem with the Apteropanorpa case.  You call Ceylalictus an [quote]Australian monotypic bee genus [unquote], but this is misleading. Sure, there is only one species in Australia,
 but there are 32 species elsewhere!
 
Cheers, Stephen


________________________________
From: "Walker, Ken" <kwalker at museum.vic.gov.au>
To: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>; Chris Thompson <xelaalex at cox.net>; "Frank.Krell at dmns.org" <Frank.Krell at dmns.org>; "dpwijesinghe at yahoo.com" <dpwijesinghe at yahoo.com>; "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> 
Sent: Monday, 24 June 2013 1:17 PM
Subject: RE: [Taxacom] Data query, ETC.



Ha!  I think your barbs should be aimed at the Australian taxonomic community who have not updated the Australian Faunal Directory (our supposed taxonomic backbone) with these additional species.
 
There is always someone else to blame!  (:->!
 
And, under the theme of “let’s pick holes”, I noticed that WikiSpecies, does not have the Australian monotypic bee genus Ceylalictus (http://species.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special%3ASearch&profile=default&search=Ceylalictus&fulltext=Search&searchengineselect=mediawiki) whereas on ALA it is there (and also under its synonymised name:  Nomioides perditellus) as well as providing a distribution map and images of the species  (http://bie.ala.org.au/search?q=Ceylalictus+perditellus) .  BTW – Ceyalictus perditellus was described in 1905!  
 
“Could do better ...”  (:->!


 
From:Stephen Thorpe [mailto:stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz] 
Sent: Monday, 24 June 2013 10:46 AM
To: Walker, Ken; Chris Thompson; Frank.Krell at dmns.org; dpwijesinghe at yahoo.com; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Data query, ETC.
 
Yeah, yeah ... "Praise be to ALA!", and all that, BUT for all that money and effort, one might expect at least an indication on this page (http://bie.ala.org.au/species/Apteropanorpa#tab_classification), for example, that it only lists 1 of the 4 species (see http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Apteropanorpa_%28Australia%29), even though the second species was described "way back" in 1999! Could do better ...


 
From:"Walker, Ken" <kwalker at museum.vic.gov.au>
To: Chris Thompson <xelaalex at cox.net>; "Frank.Krell at dmns.org" <Frank.Krell at dmns.org>; "dpwijesinghe at yahoo.com" <dpwijesinghe at yahoo.com>; "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> 
Sent: Monday, 24 June 2013 12:21 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Data query, ETC.

"I for one fail to see the point of 'mega-projects' using copied, re-copied and 'machine-read' data."

It's not all like that!

The distance between two points is not often a straight line - we all seem to like progress but few are prepared to take progress in incremental steps -- such as data aggregators.

I cannot speak for or about GBIF or EOL and others but I can speak about the relatively new Australian Museums and Herbaria data aggregator ALA (Atlas of Living Australia).

HUGE amounts of money was spent on developing ALA - but it is so much more than a simple data aggregator.

Software paradigms move and shift as time goes on.  For example, the data querying paradigm used to be "ye old" SQL servers which works as a vertical hierarchical sequence of actions - this action is completed before the next action is begun.  Then along came "Non-SQL" servers that work as a horizontal non-hierarchical set of actions where multiple actions can all be fired off simultaneously.  Non-SQL servers were a breath of free-air for socially interactive websites where a number of files need to be updated instantaneously whenever something new is added.  ALA uses a Non-SQL structure.

ALA decided to spend its funding in many ways (always playing within its strict set of funding rules).  It built a powerful web portal full of "Biodiversity Tools" - tools for integration the data (for the first time seamless integration of different datasets eg. Plants and Animals) , tools to model data, tools to predict species in time and space, tools to display hundreds of GIS overlays on a taxon distribution map etc.  ALA also put buckets of high quality infrastructure back into the Museums and Herbaria (equipment that Museum and Herbaria could not afford alone) knowing the output of this infrastructure would in-part feed back into ALA.

ALA has also heavily funded engagement with Citizen Science.  In the immortal words of the "Mythbusters" -- "The only difference between screwing around and doing science is writing it down."

There are now over 40 billion images on Flickr, Facebook and YouTube.  There are billions of fantastic natural images recording new species and new distributions for known species but much of this information is lost to science because many of these images lack the basic Darwin Core data:  spatial and temporal information.  ALA funded the development of new Australian Citizen Science website that mandates users add spatial and temporal data to their images.  All of this new Citizen Science data (images and metadata) is then uploaded to ALA which converts them to new dots on distribution maps, adds new temporal markers and makes available sets of new species images.  And guess what, this Citizen Science data then becomes available to be used by the wealth of ALA tools created to use these dots.

Importantly, under the funding rules established for ALA, not one cent could have been used for basic taxonomic research and disappointingly, not one cent could have been spent on databasing specimen records in Museum or Herbaria collections.

I guess on that basis, some would have rejected this funding --- but now, Australia made a huge incremental step in managing it Biodiversity resources - it has an effective integrated data aggregator, full of biodiversity software tools and it has seeded projects back in Museums and Herbaria which directly assist them "getting their data out" and it has engaged with the growing tidal wave of Citizen Science.

OK -- ALA has indeed used "copied, re-copied and 'machine-read' data" to establish its taxonomic framework but it has done so much more and provided so much more .... it's an incremental step between points A and B.

ken



-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Chris Thompson
Sent: Monday, 24 June 2013 3:25 AM
To: Frank.Krell at dmns.org; dpwijesinghe at yahoo.com; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Data query, ETC.

Frank,

AND what is more frustrating is the HUGE amount of money that has been expended on these mega-projects to simply repeat, re-harvest, etc., the same old basic taxonomic information, just generating new software.

And virtually nothing is left over for fundamental, basic research into the discovery and documentation of our ever disappearing biodiversity.

So, in a few years you dynastine beetle will be gone, but we will continue to waste money on re-cycling the same old information about them in newer forms, formats, etc.

And yes, this is not restricted to Systematics. But this is simply the formula for why Apple, Microsoft, et alia, are trillion / billion dollar corporations. Generate new formats / access protocols / etc., to the same data, but generate lots of $$$. And yes, since from the original UNIVAC to today's iPod, etc., bringing computer power the general public is WONDERFUL, but how much NEW information is really available to the public. [Yes, thanks to Snowden, lots!! Smile!]

Cheers,

Chris


-----Original Message-----
From: Frank.Krell at dmns.org
Sent: Sunday, June 23, 2013 10:43 AM
To: dpwijesinghe at yahoo.com ; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Data query


"I for one fail to see the point of 'mega-projects' using copied, re-copied
and 'machine-read' data."

particularly since they still make data retrieval pretty frustrating. I just
googled the rhinoceros beetle Temnorhynchus sjoestedti. Apart from some of
my own papers, the search revealed 15 pages repeating zero information.
Well, I know now that it belongs to Protostomia and Insecta, and that it is
a dynastine. This kind of outcome is the same for most species in the world,
and has remained largely unchanged for years, apart from the fact that the
number of pages revealing this information has increased. Reality can be
frustrating.

Frank

Dr. Frank-T. Krell
Curator of Entomology
Commissioner, International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature
Chair, ICZN ZooBank Committee
Department of Zoology
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Boulevard
Denver, CO 80205-5798 USA
Frank.Krell at dmns.org
Phone: (+1) (303) 370-8244
Fax: (+1) (303) 331-6492
http://www.dmns.org/science/museum-scientists/frank-krell
lab page: http://www.dmns.org/krell-lab
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science aspires to create a community of
critical thinkers who understand the lessons of the past and act as
responsible stewards of the future.
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