[tdwg-content] What I learned at the TechnoBioBlitz

Wouter Addink wouter at eti.uva.nl
Mon Oct 11 16:43:55 CEST 2010

Thanks for the summary. Note that several services are already planned as
part of the improvements for the CoL in the 4d4life and i4life projects,
including annotation services. I'll try to include the ideas from Rod Page
in the discussions about the new CoL services to implement.


Ir Wouter Addink
Deputy Director ETI & Head Informatics Department
ETI BioInformatics, 
University of Amsterdam
Mauritskade 61,1092 AD Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Phone: +31 20 5257239, Fax: +31 20 5257238
Web: http://www.eti.uva.nl
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/wouteraddink
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"Biodiversity is the biological life-insurance of mankind" -J. Pronk

> -----Original Message-----
> From: tdwg-content-bounces at lists.tdwg.org [mailto:tdwg-content-
> bounces at lists.tdwg.org] On Behalf Of joel sachs
> Sent: maandag 11 oktober 2010 13:47
> To: tdwg-bioblitz at googlegroups.com; tdwg-content at lists.tdwg.org
> Subject: [tdwg-content] What I learned at the TechnoBioBlitz
> 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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