[tdwg-content] What I learned at the TechnoBioBlitz

John Wieczorek tuco at berkeley.edu
Tue Oct 12 02:33:50 CEST 2010

Natural occurrence is meant to be captured through the term
dwc:establishmentMeans (

On Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 5:16 PM, <Donald.Hobern at csiro.au> wrote:

> Thanks, Joel.
> Nice summary.  One addition which we do need to resolve (and which has been
> suggested in recent months) is to have a flag to indicate whether a record
> should be considered to show a "natural" occurrence (in distinction from
> cultivation, botanic gardens, zoos, etc.). This is not so much an issue in a
> BioBlitz, but is certainly a factor with citizen science recording in
> general - see the number of zoo animals in the Flickr EOL group.
> Donald
> Donald Hobern, Director, Atlas of Living Australia
> CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, GPO Box 1700, Canberra, ACT 2601
> Phone: (02) 62464352 Mobile: 0437990208
> Email: Donald.Hobern at csiro.au
> Web: http://www.ala.org.au/
> -----Original Message-----
> From: tdwg-content-bounces at lists.tdwg.org [mailto:
> tdwg-content-bounces at lists.tdwg.org] On Behalf Of joel sachs
> Sent: Monday, 11 October 2010 10:47 PM
> 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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