[Taxacom] iSpecies

Thompson, Alexander M godfoder at acis.ufl.edu
Tue Jan 26 18:11:05 CST 2016

I agree with Tony here. On two different fronts. 

One, as a holder of data, iDigBio is very interested in collecting these types of annotations for the data that we serve. So I would hope that any efforts to build an annotation system into something like iSpecies would include provisions for the ability to pass those annotations down to all information providers capable of receiving them (as iDigBio plans to do).

Two, in terms of the general annotation ecosystem, I think its very important that annotation systems are very clear about A) what exactly the annotations applies too, and B) who is ultimately responsible for the annotation. For A, without a nearly universally recognized and applied identifier system (such as DOIs for papers) this virtual requires that the service archive copies of the annotated resource. Even then it is possible for annotations on archived content to effectively vanish if the system is not very careful 
to manage churn. For B, I firmly believe this requires the nomination of a organization to be the default holder of annotation records. This organization needs to be responsible for ensuring that "action" is taken on all annotations, even if the only viable action is to simply display them alongside the annotated content when it is queried. Other organizations could step up to the plate and take more comprehensive actions on annotations (such as a collection modifying its authoritative database), but in order to build trust in the system every accepted annotation needs a guaranteed minimum level of service.

I think that iSpecies as currently envisioned fails on these fronts, so annotations would not really be an appropriate feature. That said, I think it's a neat little tool that has a lot of potential, and could definitely evolve to the point (either by building features internally, or by continuing to incorporate finer grained data from additional sources) where annotation features would be both useful and appropriate.

- Alex
iDigBio Infrastructure Lead

From: Taxacom <taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> on behalf of Tony Rees <tonyrees49 at gmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2016 6:29 PM
To: David Campbell; taxacom
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] iSpecies

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> wrote:

> 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 example.
> 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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