[tdwg-content] A radical proposal for Darwin Core

joel sachs jsachs at csee.umbc.edu
Mon Jun 24 21:45:17 CEST 2013

Hi Everyone,

Darwin Core remains poorly documented, occasionally inconsistent, and 
frequently misunderstood. (Does anyone disagree with that 
characterization?) I believe this is one of the reasons we're seeing a 
proliferation of overlapping and sometimes incompatible ontologies 
building on Darwin Core terms.

One of the suggestions that came up on the TDWG-RDF mailing list is to 
have a clean-up-a-thon/document-a-thon for TDWG namespaces and terms. I 
suggest that, until such a clean up of Darwin Core occurs, TDWG accept no 
additions to the Darwin Core standard. There are several examples in 
support of my claim that we're building on a shaky foundation - an obvious 
one is that, as Steve is currently pointing out, there is no consensus on 
what constitutes a Darwin Core occurrence. (Can anyone name an instance of 
the class "http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/terms/Occurrence"?)

The clean-up-a-thon proposal was enthusiastically endorsed within the RDF 
group, but no one volunteered to organize it. I propose that we 
self-organize, and find a way to carve out two days at the coming meeting 
to hash out as much as we can, with a follow-on workshop if necessary. But 
first, I'd be interested to know - am I the only one who feels this way?


I've said this before, but it bears repeating - Darwin Core is almost an 
excellent standard, and almost ideally suited to be the foundation for a 
semantic web for biodiversity informatics. I have great respect for those 
who were involved in its creation and continued curation - for their hard 
work, and clear thinking, and patience for people like me struggling to 
understand. But all that work, thought, and patience will be for naught, 
if the gyre is allowed to widen much further.

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