[kepler-dev] Re: [seek-kr-sms] UI

Nico M. Franz franz at nceas.ucsb.edu
Thu Jun 10 15:19:29 PDT 2004

Hi there:

    There is parallel in the taxon group that works, as long as "bottom-up 
/ top-down" is viewed as a handle for describing alternative points of 
attack, not as a cross-roads with no turn back.

    We're also trying to transfer and enliven the legacy on-line. Taxonomic 
names are very revisionary in the sense that they can only have one 
particular status (accepted OR rejected) and referent (set of entities 
being referred to) per author per time. Concepts (names *as used in* a 
particular reference), in turn, can convey various meanings of the same 
name through time.

    Our transfer schema (Edinburgh) and the new database structure being 
developed at KU intend to translate names into concepts, and manage their 
origins and relations properly. They're tools with which we hope to sway 
taxonomic providers to restructure their information in such a way that it 
can be placed on, and interact with, a larger taxonomic database network. 
For the moment, our own developing efforts are mostly "bottom-up."

    But "legacy" in taxonomy takes a deeper meaning. Historical taxonomic 
publications have indeed a "legal status." The codes of nomenclature 
promote a so-called principle of priority, which means that the first 
published use of a name - whether valid or not at this moment - MUST be 
considered in a revisionary publication. Per codes, good and bad names are 
forever to be considered, perhaps unlike good and bad ecological data.

    So this special legal status of taxonomic publications creates a 
"top-down" issue that seems to hit taxonomy particularly hard. Even if we 
had our technical stuff together within SEEK, we still need to present 
taxonomists with a long-term sustainable, socio-economic model that would 
instill confidence in them that their efforts are preserved as long as 
necessary - which is LONG. Taxonomists are kind of poor actually, and so 
they don't have one themselves.

    As a pragmatic move, I think we're first trying to involve institutions 
(such as USDA-ITIS) that already have a (perceived) long-term internet 
business up and running. Their databases may not be the fanciest, but they 
tend to last longer. Here we're making a necessary concession to "top-down" 
forces, even though "bottom-up" we can envision much more capable database 
systems to manage information.


At 10:51 AM 6/10/2004 -0700, Shawn Bowers wrote:

> From my understanding of the goals of SEEK, I think what you describe 
> below Ferdinando is very much the ultimate goal.  Although it has never 
> been formally stated, I think we are working "bottom up" to achieve the 
> goal; building the necessary infrastructure so operations as you envision 
> below can be realized.  I believe that a driving factor for developing 
> the system bottom up is because we are charged with "enlivening" legacy 
> data and services.


Nico M. Franz
National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis
735 State Street, Suite 300
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Phone: (805) 966-1677; Fax: (805) 892-2510; E-mail: franz at nceas.ucsb.edu
Website: http://www.cals.cornell.edu/dept/entomology/wheeler/Franz/Nico.htm 
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