Name for the standard

P. Bryan Heidorn heidorn at ALEXIA.LIS.UIUC.EDU
Wed Sep 17 06:05:51 CEST 2003

As an information scientists and not a "taxonomists" in the systematics use of
the world, but certainly a taxonomists in the Library Science use of the word,
e.g. Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) I think the work practice now is to
describe higher level taxonomic concepts independent of the raw data the
specimen. It is the description of a class of objects not the object
themselves. Even at the species level the taxonomists is not claiming to have
seen all of the individuals, just enough to make generalizations. So I think
this generalization needs to be addressed by SDD. It would be icing on the
cake if SDD could deal with the relationship to instance data as well.

>===== Original Message From TDWG - Structure of Descriptive Data
>> I think  in theory the SDD spec could be used to describe
>> anything that can be
>> broken into characteristics and states. That can certainly go
>> beyond biology
>> as DELTA did in some cases. I believe that, "Structure of
>> Descriptive Data"
>> handles that idea. It can be a description of anything. The
>> description may
>> itself be grounded in instance data from the world (specimens)
>> that have been
>> abstracted or summarized.
>If the intent is to maintain it so generalized that it can be used in any
>context, including abiotic ones (in the same sense that DiGIR is
>specifically intended to be "Generic", not necessarily limited to biological
>datasets), then I agree -- stick with "SDD".
>> The taxonomy component is needed to specify what it is that is being
>> described. In the realm of biology it would seem to be worth some
>> effort to be domain specific in this part to make sure we can capture this
>> reference to a "taxonomic concept."
>I guess that lies at the heart of my original question.  I've been under the
>impression that descriptive data about, for example, certain characteristics
>of a leaf, are related to the tree from which the leaf fell, moreso than the
>abstract taxonomic concept in which some taxonomist might include that tree
>within. In that sense, I see "taxonomy" as a field that may very well be a
>(the?) primary consumer of such descriptive data, but not necessarily what
>the descriptive data is specifically endeavoring to describe.
>I don't want to belabor this point, but I just would like to understand
>whether taxonomic concepts are considered by this group as the direct
>objects that are being described; or whether the descriptive data really
>apply to individual (or sets of individual) organisms, which may or may not
>be viewed within the context of a taxonomic concept.
>Again, my apologies if this is drifting too far from the focus of this
>Richard L. Pyle
>Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
>1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
>Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
>email: deepreef at

P. Bryan Heidorn    Graduate School of Library and Information Science
pheidorn at   University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
(V)217/ 244-7792    501 East Daniel St., Champaign, IL  61820-6212
(F)217/ 244-3302

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