[Taxacom] Fwd: Community curation

Michael Heads m.j.heads at gmail.com
Sat Oct 26 02:32:46 CDT 2013


That's one of the best summaries I've seen - spot on. One thing though -
you say the people organising these things are 'dreamers hopeful that
everyone will stop whatever else they're doing long enough for the dream to
be validated'. I don't think these carpetbaggers are in it for the
dream; they're in it for the money.

On Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 8:25 PM, Bob Mesibov <mesibov at southcom.com.au>wrote:

> David Schindel wrote:
> "The GRBio registry, like Index Herbariorum, BCI and biorepositories.org,
> relies on community curation. People enter their data and if they don't,
> then those data aren't available. It's the same basis as GBIF or any other
> database except surveys like a national census or labor statistics. No one
> is paid to collect these data from the taxosphere and if the community
> doesn't want to create a knowledge commons then it will reap the
> consequences."
> It's like the call from GBIF for the 'biodiversity community' to
> voluntarily correct millions of errors, or from EoL for the same community
> to supply volunteer taxon curators for the tens of thousands of name-only
> EoL pages. GRBio, GBIF, EoL and a dozen other acronyms are ambitious
> projects started and run by people who know perfectly well that their goals
> are unachievable unless thousands of other people contribute vast amounts
> of time and effort gratis.
> In their first attempts to ingratiate themselves with potential
> volunteers, the projects have marketed themselves like laundry detergents.
> Biodiversity science will be easier, cleaner and faster if only everyone
> supported and used the latest acronym.We're now seeing empty threats like
> Schindel's. If we don't help GRBio, we 'will reap the consequences'.
> Acronym promoters and staff either don't understand or prefer to ignore
> three simple facts. First, as the number of whining beggars increases,
> charity per beggar is going to drop. Second, 'the community' doesn't exist
> except as a metaphorical aggregate. The reality is a multitude of
> specialist communities, sometimes with a membership of one, whose needs and
> interests may or may not overlap with those of the acronyms.
> Third and most important, any Web-based acronym is competing as a resource
> with any number of other non-acronym, Web-based sources of the same
> information. Specialists have put online their own, expert-checked,
> taxonomic and occurrence data. Biological repositories have put online
> their own structure, staff, holdings etc. This is the Web-based 'knowledge
> commons' in the 21st century: fragmented and uneven. The *search engine*
> has replaced the big, comprehensive, authoritative resources that sat on
> the librarian's desk or the Professor's shelf. Those resources were built
> by paid teams and sold to recover costs, not thrown out unfinished by
> dreamers hopeful that everyone will stop whatever else they're doing long
> enough for the dream to be validated.
> 'Community curation' by the people of 'the taxosphere' ain't gonna happen,
> and the more acronyms pleading for it, the less likely it will be. The
> reason isn't a lack of altruism among biologists, it's a well-grounded lack
> of interest in helping yet another acronymic parasite.
> P.S. Did Austin Mast really write breathlessly about volunteer
> digitisation of labels 'This is an exciting opportunity to work on a
> ground-breaking citizen-science endeavor with immediate and strong impacts
> in the areas of biodiversity and applied conservation'? 'Ground-breaking'?
> Seven years after Herbaria at home kicked off?
> --
> Dr Robert Mesibov
> Honorary Research Associate
> Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
> School of Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania
> Home contact:
> PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
> (03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
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> Celebrating 26 years of Taxacom in 2013.

Dunedin, New Zealand.

My recent books:

*Molecular panbiogeography of the tropics.* 2012.* *University of
California Press, Berkeley.

*Biogeography of Australasia:  A molecular analysis*. Available January
2014. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

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