[tdwg-content] What I learned at the TechnoBioBlitz

joel sachs jsachs at csee.umbc.edu
Mon Oct 11 14:53:09 CEST 2010


The issue is that the observer and the the recorder are not always the 
same person. A student or a team member might report the observation to 
a teacher/team leader, who then creates the record. As you and Tim point 
out, the definition of recordedBy does allow us to use the term for both 
observers and record creators, but then we lose the distinction between 
the two.


On Mon, 11 Oct 2010, "Markus Döring (GBIF)" wrote:

> Joel,
> thanks for this nice summary. Darwin Core definitely needs far more examples to illustrate its use. We should probably provide various examples for all the different use cases we already know dwc can be used for.
> Darwin Core has a recordedBy term. Did that not fit your obs:observedBy property and if not what exactly is the difference?
> See http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/terms/index.htm#recordedBy
> Thanks,
> Markus
> On Oct 11, 2010, at 13:46, joel sachs wrote:
>> One of the goals of the recent bioblitz was to think about the suitability
>> and appropriatness of TDWG standards for citizen science. Robert Stevenson
>> has volunteered to take the lead on preparing a technobioblitz lessons
>> learned document, and though the scope of this document is not yet
>> determined, I think the audience will include bioblitz organizers,
>> software developers, and TDWG as a whole. I hope no one is shy about
>> sharing lessons they think they learned, or suggestions that they have. We
>> can use the bioblitz google group for this discussion, and copy in
>> tdwg-content when our discussion is standards-specific.
>> Here are some of my immediate observations:
>> 1. Darwin Core is almost exactly right for citizen science. However, there
>> is a desperate need for examples and templates of its use. To illustrate
>> this need: one of the developers spoke of the design choice between "a
>> simple csv file and a Darwin Core record". But a simple csv file is a
>> legitimate representation of Darwin Core! To be fair to the developer,
>> such a sentence might not have struck me as absurd a year ago, before
>> Remsen said "let's use DwC for the bioblitz".
>> We provided a couple of example DwC records (text and rdf) in the bioblitz
>> data profile [1]. I  think the lessons learned document should include an
>> on-line catalog of cut-and-pasteable examples covering a variety of use
>> cases, together with a dead simple desciption of DwC, something like
>> "Darwin Core is a collection of terms, together with definitions."
>> Here are areas where we augemented or diverged from DwC in the bioblitz:
>> i. We added obs:observedBy [2], since there is no equivalent property in
>> DwC, and it's important in Citizen Science (though often not available).
>> ii. We used geo:lat and geo:long [3] instead of DwC terms for latitude and
>> longitude. The geo namespace is a well used and supported standard, and
>> records with geo coordinates are automatically mapped by several
>> applications. Since everyone was using GPS  to retrieve their coordinates,
>> we were able to assume WGS-84 as the datum.
>> If someone had used another Datum, say XYZ, we would have added columns to
>> the Fusion table so that they could have expressed their coordiantes in
>> DwC, as, e.g.:
>> DwC:decimalLatitude=41.5
>> DwC:decimalLongitude=-70.7
>> DwC:geodeticDatum=XYZ
>> (I would argue that it should be kosher DwC to express the above as simply
>> XYZ:lat and XYZ:long. DwC already incorporates terms from other
>> namespaces, such as Dublin Core, so there is precedent for this.
>> 2. DwC:scientificName might be more user friendly than taxonomy:binomial
>> and the other taxonomy machine tags EOL uses for flickr images.  If
>> DwC:scientificName isn't self-explanatory enough, a user can look it up,
>> and see that any scientific name is acceptable, at any taxonomic rank, or
>> not having any rank. And once we have a scientific name, higher ranks can
>> be inferred.
>> 3. Catalogue of Life was an important part of the workflow, but we
>> had some problems with it. Future bioblitzes might consider using
>> something like a CoL fork, as recently described by Rod Page [4].
>> 4. We didn't include "basisOfRecord" in the original data profile, and so
>> it wasn't a column in the Fusion Table [5]. But when a transcriber felt it
>> was necessary to include in order to capture data in a particular field
>> sheet, she just added the column to the table. This flexibility of schema
>> is important, and is in harmony with the semantic web.
>> 5. There seemed to be enthusiasm for another field event at next year's
>> TDWG. This could be an opportunity to gather other types of data (eg.
>> character data) and thereby
>> i) expose meeting particpants to another set of everyday problems from the
>> world of biodiversity workflows, and ii) try other TDWG technology on
>> for size, e.g. the observation exchange format, annotation framework, etc.
>> Happy Thanksgiving to all in Canada -
>> Joel.
>> ----
>> 1. http://groups.google.com/group/tdwg-bioblitz/web/tdwg-bioblitz-profile-v1-1
>> 2. Slightly bastardizing our old observation ontology -
>> http://spire.umbc.edu/ontologies/Observation.owl
>> 3. http://www.w3.org/2003/01/geo/
>> 4. http://iphylo.blogspot.com/2010/10/replicating-and-forking-data-in-2010.html
>> 5. http://tables.googlelabs.com/DataSource?dsrcid=248798
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