[Tdwg-guid] Demise of Phyloinformatics journal

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Sun Nov 26 20:41:42 CET 2006

I only just now read Bryan Heidorn's excellent post on this topic (below).
One thing I would add is that the nature of the internet and electronic
information allow us opportunities to ensure permanence and access that were
either impossible, or prohibitively expensive even a decade ago.  Imagine,
for example, an internet protocol that allowed both institutions and
individuals to "plug in" and expose their digitial catalogs of stored
electronic publications (and other resources) such that the whereabouts of
literally thousands of copies of every electronic publication could be known
to anyone. The system I envision is somewhat of a cross between existing
protocols for interlibrary loan, and the original Napster.  Certainly all
sorts of copyright issues need to be sorted out, but these are short-term
problems (less than a century), compared to the long-term (multi-millenia?)
issue of information persistence. The point is, knowing the whereabaouts of
extant copies of digital documents, coupled with the amazing ease and low
cost of duplication and global dissemination (not to mention plummeting
costs of electronic storage media), would virtually guarantee the long-term
persistence of digital information.

Any system is, of course, vulnerable to the collapse (or major perturbation)
of human civilization.  And the electronic translator problem I alluded to
in an earlier post cannot be ignored.  But to pretend that the potential
doesn't exist or shouldn't be actively pursued is pure folly, in my opinion.


Richard L. Pyle, PhD
Database Coordinator for Natural Sciences
  and Associate Zoologist in Ichthyology
Department of Natural Sciences, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org

> -----Original Message-----
> From: tdwg-guid-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
> [mailto:tdwg-guid-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of P. 
> Bryan Heidorn
> Sent: Friday, November 24, 2006 8:22 AM
> To: tdwg-guid at mailman.nhm.ku.edu; Taxacom
> Subject: Re: [Tdwg-guid] Demise of Phyloinformatics journal
> The problem and solution has less to do with the Internet and 
> more to do with institutional longevity.
> The permanence of paper has less to do with acid free paper 
> and more to do with the relative permanence of the 
> institutions that house them. Most paper documents over a 
> hundred years old have been lost forever because there were 
> no permanent institutions to hold them until the advent of 
> public and academic libraries. Papers in individual 
> scientists collections are discarded when they die. War and 
> economic upheavals left paper in rain and fire. It is 
> foolhardy to assume that what is on paper is safe.
> We know that dissemination of information in electronic form 
> is must more economical than paper dissemination. The issue 
> is development of proper institutions with adequate stable 
> funding to develop and maintain copies into "perpetuity". 
> Commercial publishers, are clearly not the answer for 
> preservation. Corporations and publishers go out of business 
> all the time. It is only because libraries kept paper copies 
> that we still have a record.
> Digital preservation and access problems exist for all 
> sciences and government documents so there is no need to the 
> biodiversity community to go it alone on this. We are just in 
> the beginning of the digital publishing history and have not 
> yet established adequate preservation mechanisms within 
> libraries to handle data curation, preservation and access in 
> all the situations where it is necessary.  
> There are projects underway world wide to address this issue. 
> In the United States the Library of Congress The National 
> Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program 
> http:// www.digitalpreservation.gov/ is one example. The U.S. 
> Government agency the Institute of Museum and Library 
> Services (IMLS) http:// www.imls.gov/ began grant programs to 
> train librarians and museum curators in digital librarianship 
> and most recently in digital data curation 
> http://www.imls.gov/applicants/grants/
> 21centuryLibrarian.shtm is addressing the education issues. 
> The University of North Carolina http://www.ils.unc.edu/digccurr2007/
> papers.html and the University of Illinois 
> http://sci.lis.uiuc.edu/ DCEP/ have begun working on best 
> practices and education. This week say the successful Data 
> Curation Conference (DCC) in Glasgow, Scotland 
> http://www.dcc.ac.uk/events/dcc-2006/. DCC will be running 
> "Long-term Curation and Preservation of Journals"
> 31 January 2007. (as an aside, at DCC conference I saw 
> results of a survey in "Attitudes and aspirations in a 
> diverse world: the Project StORe perspective on scientific 
> repositories" Graham Pryor, University of Edinburgh 
> http://www.dcc.ac.uk/events/dcc-2006/
> programme/presentations/g-pryor.ppt that more scientists 
> trusted publishers to save their digital documents than their 
> home institutions and libraries! It is clear that scientists 
> are generally not trained in economics and that the 
> information technology management of many institutions must 
> be abysmal!
> We need something like to 5 institution rule for distribution 
> to apply for digital documents. Digital documents need to be 
> replicated as well for both access and preservation. 
> Institutions like the Internet Archive help with some of the 
> current problems.  
> Institutional Repositories (IR) are another. Many 
> universities and libraries world wide are beginning these. It 
> is authors'  
> responsibility  to deposit their publications in these 
> institutions and to support their creation. JSTOR and other 
> institutions also exist. They all have their weaknesses and 
> additional research, development and funding is needed to 
> adequately address the issues.  
> Also, all journals need to be managed using good data 
> curation principles but al too often the publishers in spite 
> of best intentions are not educated in such issues.
> Digital publishing of taxonomic literature are not the full 
> answer for current poor dissemination of taxonomic 
> literature. The deposit of a published name in five 
> institutions is a preservation rule, not a dissemination 
> rule.  We hurt science and human health is we do not at the 
> same time address the information access issue.  We need to 
> aspire to better dissemination and preservation. Electronic 
> publishing will help but only if appropriate institutions in place.
> On the smaller issue, DOIs for publications, electronic or 
> paper is a no-brainer. URLs were never designed to be 
> permanent. URLs were designed to be reused and be flexible. 
> With DOIs we can place the same paper in multiple digital or 
> physical locations and reliably find copies.
> Bryan Heidorn
> --
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
>    P. Bryan Heidorn    Graduate School of Library and Information  
> Science
>    pheidorn at uiuc.edu   University of Illinois at 
> Urbana-Champaign MC-493
>    (V)217/ 244-7792    501 East Daniel St., Champaign, IL  61820-6212
>    (F)217/ 244-3302    https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/pheidorn/www
> On Nov 24, 2006, at 9:54 AM, Renato De Giovanni wrote:
> > Rod,
> >
> > Thanks for sharing with us the information. I already imagined that
> > things like that could happen, but it's always better to 
> argue having
> > real examples.
> >
> > Anyway, just in case someone reading the story decides to 
> blame URLs,
> > I just wanted to say that in my opinion the main issue here is not
> > the technology or the GUID format being used. It's the 
> business model
> > and the management strategy.
> >
> > I can easily imagine similar things happening to DOIs, 
> LSIDs or other
> > kinds of issued GUIDs if the institution(s) behind them simply
> > disappear.
> >
> > Best Regards,
> >
> > Renato
> > --
> > IT Researcher
> > CRIA - Reference Center on Environmental Information
> > http://www.cria.org.br/
> >
> > On 24 Nov 2006 at 13:37, Roderic Page wrote:
> >
> >> The Open Access web-only journal "Phyloinformatics" seems to have
> >> disappeared, with the Internet address http:// 
> >> www.phyloinformatics.org
> >> now up for sale. This means the articles have just disappeared!
> >>
> >> There weren't many papers published, but some were 
> interesting and  
> >> have
> >> been cited in the mainstream literature.
> >>
> >> This also illustrates the problems with linking to digital 
> resources
> >> using URLs, as opposed to identifiers such as DOIs. With 
> the loss of
> >> the domain name, this journal has effectively died.
> >>
> >> A sobering lesson...
> >>
> >> Regards
> >>
> >> Rod
> >
> >
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