[Taxacom] iSpecies

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Tue Jan 26 17:53:28 CST 2016

I think that there is some value in a web service which takes as input a taxonomic name and gives as output links to a range of other websites which actually have some sort of information on the taxon. It is a "hub", but that it all it is, nothing more and nothing less. Therefore that is how it should be pitched. It should also be careful in its selection of other websites to point to. Leaving out ones with the most useful content would be unfortunate! Having too many links to websites which are just sharing the same data anyway would also not be ideal.


On Wed, 27/1/16, Tony Rees <tonyrees49 at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] iSpecies
 To: "David Campbell" <pleuronaia at gmail.com>, "taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Wednesday, 27 January, 2016, 12:29 PM
 I don't think "annotation" and an
 on-the-fly aggregator such as iSpecies
 belong together. As Rod is pointing out, iSpecies is
 basically a
 demonstrator of the fact that you can take an input species
 name, throw it
 at a select number of (hopefully comprehensive) taxonomic
 resources, and do
 "something" with whatever comes back, on-the-fly. The system
 is just a
 piece of code (large or small) to do that job, and does not
 hold any
 content of its own (although arguably a list of taxonomic
 names and their
 synonyms might be helpful, for query expansion, also
 homonyms, for
 disaggregation...). So any annotations would need to reside
 in the external
 data sources that the "aggregator" queries.
 Of course a step away from this model is to start to hold
 actual content
 locally for query, then annotations *could* be attached as
 desired within
 the iSpecies environment, but my feeling is that this is
 outside the scope
 of Rod's present "demonstrator" system. There is a
 conceptual progression
 from a basic system as shown to something with a lot more
 behind it
 (databases, locally hosted content, annotations, lists and
 systems of taxa,
 etc. etc.) which is ultimately how you end up with the likes
 of EOL,
 however with substantially (read lots!) more investment in
 both IT
 infrastructure, editorial input, and community engagement.
 Personally (no disrespect to Rod) if I wanted EOL content I
 would go to
 EOL, GBIF content I would go to GBIF, literature I would go
 to Google
 Scholar and BHL at this time, but Rod is trying to show that
 "some" of the
 required human mouse clicks can be automated at least
 (though that is
 hardly a new message, thanks in part to his original
 iSpecies of 2006 or
 so). I think the value will be to see what else he can do
 with the system
 to produce a product, or some interesting value- adding,
 that is currently
 *not* available elsewhere with a few mouse clicks.
 Regards - Tony
 Tony Rees, New South Wales, Australia
 On 27 January 2016 at 09:25, David Campbell <pleuronaia at gmail.com>
 > Such annotation, though requiring appropriate
 moderation, has particular
 > advantages of being easy and convenient for the people
 competent to make
 > corrections.  They're likely to be working on
 their own projects and not
 > have time or funding to tackle a thorough review of a
 dataset.  But they
 > are likely to search for information and, in the
 process, spot
 > misinformation.  A quick way to flag problems,
 provide supplemental info,
 > etc., and the researcher is likely to contribute. 
 If it takes 10 minutes
 > of searching through multiple links just to find a
 possible way to submit a
 > correction, then there will be a lot fewer edits
 submitted.  This applies
 > for many contexts - BHL could improve indexing if
 readers could flag
 > unrecognized scientific names and false positives, for
 > On Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 3:26 PM, Stephen Thorpe <
 > stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 > wrote:
 > > Rod,
 > >
 > > The only way that this sort of thing is ever going
 to get beyond the
 > stage
 > > of "garbage in, garbage out" is by allowing free
 and unrestricted (but
 > > moderated in case of spam) annotation....
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