[Taxacom] ICZN and Wikispecies (was Re: "nude" Coccinellid genera?)

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Sun Mar 10 23:22:02 CDT 2013

Hi Stephen,

> Well, publishers are the main users of ZooBank who gain anything tangible
> from the "services" of ZooBank. They use it to facilitate e-only
> which is nevertheless Code compliant. ZooBank doesn't really offer any
> "services" to anyone!

Actually, that's not really true.  From the perspective of many publishers,
it's just one more pain-in-the-backside hurdle that they need to deal with
during their publication workflow.  Frankly I see no reason why ZooBank
benefits them.  Yes, ZooBank is one of the requirements for e-only
publication, but that's not a "service" provided by ZooBank.  E-only
publication would be a lot easier for most publishers if it didn't include
the registration requirement.

THANKFULLY, many publishers and journal editors have been extremely
cooperative and supportive of the concept of ZooBank -- not so much because
of the e-publication thing, but because they recognize the importance of a
stable nomenclature upon which all of biology ultimately depends (at least
in the current paradigm, which has been maintained for the past two and a
half centuries).  In particular, Pensoft, PLoS ONE, Zootaxa, and several
others have been very supportive of ZooBank -- even well before the
e-publication Amendment was passed.

The value of ZooBank to everyone else will come as two things start to
1) ZooBank gets populated with historical content (Sherborn, Hymenoptera
Name Server, plus many other zoological databases that have expressed
willingness to contribute);

2) The Global Names Architecture services start to ramp up (already

As for #2, the analogy I always give people for GNA is the DNS system of the
internet.  Everyone on the planet uses it all day long, but without
realizing it.  This is why I see GNA as different from the "alphabet soup".
Most of the big players (CoL, EOL, GBIF, WoRMS, ALA, IPNI, Tropicos, Index
Fungorum, ZooBank, and many, many others) provide valuable services to end
users.  The purpose of GNA is to build a low-level *infrastructure* to allow
all of those existing services interoperate more effectively.  I explained
this in some detail here:

See the slides starting at about 5:20, through 6:35, and again from 8:40
through 10:20.

If we can make both of those things happen, then ZooBank will play one of
the key roles (along with IPNI, IF, MycoBank, and the registry of Bacteria
-- when it goes digital) for anchoring text-string names to metadata-rich,
usage-based data "objects" (Protonyms and other Code-governed actions
involving nomenclature), which themselves serve as keystone records for all
taxon-name-usages (including all taxon concept definitions).

Paddy Patterson has been make the strong and compelling point that we need
to shift our framing of biodiversity informatics away from the realm of
research tools, and more towards universal, foundational, information
infrastructure.  When we start to achieve that vision, a great deal or order
will emerge from the disconnected morass of biodiversity data that we used
to spend hours and hours in the library tracking down, and now spend fewer
hours -- but still many hours -- surfing the web to track down.

As long as we can find a common pathway to bring some sense of cohesion to
all this biodiversity data, I'm confident the money will be there to support
each of the core components and services (including ICZN & ZooBank).  If we
keep to the "data silo" structure, I'll be much less optimistic.


Richard L. Pyle, PhD
Database Coordinator for Natural Sciences
Associate Zoologist in Ichthyology
Dive Safety Officer
Department of Natural Sciences, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org

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