Structure vs content

Una Smith una.smith at YALE.EDU
Fri Aug 4 10:22:02 CEST 2000

I have just finished reading all the traffic on TDWG-SSD after 2 weeks
away, and I noticed something interesting.  There is an important
difference of perspective here that has not so far been made explicit:

To some people, character definitions are part of the *structure* of
a data format, while to others these definitions are *content*.  E.g.,
character definitions as structure (attribution lost):

>> [...] So we need to support the word "ovate" as a leaf shape
>>descriptor <<leaf_shape>ovate<</leaf_shape> or we will not be able to
>>support legacy data.

...and as content (Peter Stevens):

>Of course we have to be able to <underline>handle</underline> such
>data, it will simply be a case of caveat emptor.

Count me among those who regard character (and taxon) definitions as

        Una Smith               una.smith at

        Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
        Yale University
        New Haven, CT  06520-8106

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