Space shuttles and bicycles

Stan Blum sblum at CALACADEMY.ORG
Tue Jul 25 09:50:57 CEST 2000

At 11:29 AM 7/25/00 +1000, Eric Zurcher wrote:
>5) Difficulty in merging or comparing datasets - it is rather difficult to
>combine datasets based on differing character lists, even when those
>character lists are fairly similar. There is no mechanism for "mapping"
>character states from one dataset onto those of another. (Disparate
>character lists are another matter entirely. My personal view is that the
>holy grail of a "universal" character list for, say, all of botany will
>tend to remain tantilizingly just out of reach, and the efforts of this
>group should not be distracted in that direction.)

I agree with Eric on two points raised above:

- discrete characters / states need to be re-evaluated and perhaps re-coded
when they are combined across studies; automating that task isn't a good
idea (comments by Peter and Stinger about morphometrics notwithstanding --
though morphometric characters can also be very context specific).

- this group should not be distracted by developing lists of authorized
shape descriptors.

But Eric's comment reminds me that there is a STRONG reason for moving a
data set between the various applications that deal with descriptive
data:  a single person might want to use DELTA, LucID, PAUP and McClade in
the same study.  It would be "nice" to have the capability to create and
maintain a single data set that could store and "serve" data to each
application.  If we could create the specification for that data set, I
would judge this effort a success.


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