[Tdwg-tag] Position of GBIF in architecture and centralizationofservices.

Berendsohn, Walter G. w.berendsohn at bgbm.org
Fri Mar 10 13:33:21 CET 2006

Dear All,

I finally spend some time going through the thread on GBIF vs. TDWG, RDF
vs. XML, and Provider-sided querying vs. Cache-only. My impression is
that at this point in time we have to keep options open, particularly if
they work and have been advertised widely. I think that our main problem
remains the mobilisation of data. We have to convince people (i.e.
institutions, organisations, and individual researchers and amateurs) to
make their data freely available. This has to be taken into account when
devising the technical strategies.
Provider-sided querying and rich-data definitions provide an immense
potential for future (unforeseen) applications and research questions.
[I think it was not mentioned that they also allow in-house networking
of data sources, a problem many institutions have, e.g. with various
collection databases brought in by collectors or curators.] This
component should be maintained and incorporated into the overall

Centralised architechtures are necessary to get things moving rapidly,
demonstrating particularly to (potential) data providers that their
contribution is taken up and used. They are also necessary to achieve
fitness-for-purpose in a wide variety of potential applications (through
selective caching and quality enhancements in the indexing process). I
think a cache toolkit is thus a priority. It should facilitats the
creation of a quality-enhanced cache for specialised purposes while
offering an interface for (cascading) provider control as well as a
feedback mechanim to communicate possible quality enhancements to
providers. Organisations such as GBIF, OBIS, BioCASE as well as national
networks are tackling this problem - but we should do everything
possible at this time to ensure that they use a common infrastructure. 

GBIF is clearly our great and unique chance to get things moving. I
doubt that we will get a global infrastructure to funciton if GBIF
fails. So making GBIF work is certainly a priority also for TDWG. I
think in both organisations we need to keep the vision alive, apart from
having to solve the imminent problems. 

Again, my personal view is that it is very important to continue
focussing on data mobilisation - there are enormous amouts of data on
specimens, observations [automatic recordings, fotographs, monitoring
data, ...] out there which are still recorded, stored and distributed
for special purposes only. To get people on board, it is important to
provide services directed at the same people who provide the data. 

Best wishes


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