Taxon debate synthesis?

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Wed Nov 16 10:47:43 CET 2005

> Before we have a flurry of name flavours (yuck), I'd suggest that many
> of these "flavours" are really relationships between names,

Absolutely! -- I was using "flavours" in the sense that they would be
defined in terms of relationships, not in terms of the data objects
themselves.  Sorry if it seemed I meant it that way.  Perhaps there is value
in establishing a metadata attribute for "IsBasionym" or something like
that, but I think these things should really be defined by relationships
among GUID-represented data objects, rather than as attributes of the data
objects themselves.

> Hence, I think before we embark on adding complexity, why not have
> GUIDs for names and then specify relationships between these names?
> This is what I've been doing with the LSIDs we serve here.

Why not have GUIDs for NameUsages, and then specify relationships between
these NameUsages? (simply because "names" are much more difficult to define
than "NameUsages")

> We could do with an ontology for these relationships so that, for
> example, if somebody asks for the synonyms of name "x", and two names
> are linked by the relationship "isBasionymOf" we recover that
> relationship (in other words, our tools know that 'isBasionymOf" is a
> kind of synonym).

Sounds good to me!

> Again, let's try and keep things simple.

Agreed!  And simple not so much for the sake of simplicity, but more for the
sake of flexibility.

> This leads to a much more general topic, but I think if we adopt RDF
> for our metadata we gain a lot of query and inference tools "for free."
> GUIDs by themselves are boring, it's the metadata that matters.


> > My general feeling is that most of the useful information is metadata,
> > the
> > only candidates for data (in my mind) being the literal text string
> > (NameString), a ref pointer to a defined Documentation instance (if
> > any),
> > and perhaps position information (e.g. page) within the Documentation
> > instance.  All of these might be intially recorded in error, but could
> > be
> > corrected via the LSID revision id (version).
> I think everything about a name probably is metadata, and doing this
> opens up the possibility of doing useful things with that metadata (see
> above). In the LSID stuff we've been doing at Glasgow the only time we
> provide data is if we are serving images, in which case it makes sense
> to serve a stream of bytes (e.g., a TIFF image). In one sense, data
> isn't that interesting (or, put another way in many cases it requires a
> person to make sense of it, whereas computers can handle metadata).

After having just spent the past couple hours brushing up my LSID
"geek-speak", I agree completely with Rod on this.


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