[Taxacom] The economics of biodiversity database initiatives

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sun Oct 27 19:31:21 CDT 2013

Dear all,
In a rare moment of clarity, I have just now realised why we are drowning in a multitude of not very useful biodiversity databases, funded by public money. The key point is that success of these initiatives is independent of end user usage of the product, i.e. they are not selling any product, and it really does not matter even if nobody uses the end product. This is because they are using public money rather than their own money. Although such funding is typically administered by government agencies, the driving force is not usage of the end product, but keeping people employed and money flowing thru the economy, and, unlike yesteryear, it must all make a profit (for govt. agencies). How can you make a profit when you are not selling anything? The profits are derived not from the end product but rather from the process of generating that end product. Creation of databases happens to be a relatively high profit process, compared with doing taxonomy, for
 example. So, even the slightest hint of justification for a new database will be accepted by the funding agencies, if it results in employment and profits, i.e. they dont need much convincing to part with public money! I suspect end user needs have very little, if anything, to do with it ...

More information about the Taxacom mailing list