[Taxacom] What can Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) do for you?

Mary Barkworth Mary.Barkworth at usu.edu
Sun Oct 20 08:15:44 CDT 2013

1) This new interface seems to target developers more than the programming illiterate (pill). It extolls the web apps available, show how data can be visualized, but the search our data button has gone. I am pill. I tried searching for Artemisia and was told no records. Obviously I am missing something. I tried the "Explore Occurrences" button, realizing I might be getting reports rather than specimen data and was told "no records". Pretty pictures of the development of GBIF's records - yes, I would like that app - but I could not see where to enter in MY search. So, please make that more evident. I am sure it is simple, it out to be blazingly simple. I know I am old but I am sure there are a lot more pills out there who would like to be able to use the records even if only to get an overview of its distribution, recognizing that the data are coming through few institutions. Nothing against apps; I liked the new data visualization tool. I would just like a) to be able to select which data in GBIF I visualize and b) enable application of the app to non-gbif data sets such as the herbarium networks developing in the US or a download from other sources (yes, this will have to involve non-pills).
2) Getting data from the dark parts of the world. GBIF unfortunately has to work through governments. There are a lot of excellent people in government agencies but, for diversity data, the important people are those that obtain the data and those that curate the specimens, sounds, images, DNA, etc. You want good data going forward - then find ways to reach those people. Many of the dark places have unreliable electricity and little or no internet access (if it is very expensive, it comes in the 'little or no" category) - let alone facilities for storing evidence. And that is when there is no conflict in the area. I do not have magic answers but do know that, even in the US, what is making possible rapid expansion to the number of herbaria making data available are networks that encourage participation by all and make that participation easy - nowadays requiring only a browser once one accepts that a specimen image is not essential (possibly useful but not essential). Of course, browser based approaches require infrastructure so that aspect of the approach is not going to work everywhere. What is true is that a) providing records needs to offer something to those from whom one wants the data - not just money (but money is essential) but also assistance in learning how to use what they are making available to advance their career and organization. This I way beyond the remit of GBIF - but necessary if we want more good records. 
3)  And I agree with Lyubomir, enabling use of the information inside formal publications would be really valuable. We need more journals with the ability to mark up manuscripts and that means providing the software and helping those in charge (and their contributors) learn to use it. Is there any open source software available for this purpose? One approach, that used by Pensoft I think, is to enable development on an interface that provides the markup - just as word processing tools make it easy to mark up things to be in a different typeface of even to be indexed - but only one index (so far as I am aware).  


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