[tdwg-guid] First step in implementing LSIDs?[Scanned]

Weitzman, Anna WEITZMAN at si.edu
Sun Jun 3 00:26:54 CEST 2007

Hi Bob,
I'll get to your most recent message later, but right now, I want to focus in on one thing that you said earlier this afternoon:
"Two different objects cannot have the same LSID by definition. [This is more or less the sole overarching point of GUIDs]."
There is a fundamental semantic issue here in what we (probably most computer scientists vs. most taxonomists) call objects.  You have described LSIDs for digital 'objects' in the main, which makes perfect sense from your perspective.  
To most taxonomists, digital 'objects' are not objects at all but non-physical representations (images or metadata) of or references to objects (and of course most taxonomists refer to data and metadata interchangeably--partially because metadata about an object can also need metadata to describe it, so the line becomes very fuzzy).  
With the taxonomists' world view, it makes perfect sense to use the same GUID each time the same object (by this we are most likely going to mean an object or lot in our physical collections; a taxon name; a taxon concept; a person (whether the action being referred to in the instance is collector, taxon author, publication author, curator, etc); and the like) is referred to anywhere--hence my examples 1-7 and beyond.  In fact we would like the world to work like that, and have you computer scientists give us a perfect solution to make that happen seamlessly with as little thought for us as possible.  Effectively, what we want is to give an ID to example 1, and let you tell us how to make sure that every instance that refers to it (e.g., 2-7) throughout the entire digital world used by the taxonomic community.
I realize that this seems simplistic and that what you are defining is more flexible, but I'm not entirely convinced that it is as useful to the taxonomic community (at least for the foreseeable future) as what I described.
Making sure that the same ID for these digital objects in all different publications refers to the same Collection Object is one of the main reasons that I want to parse the literature in the way that I am working toward.  By doing that, I can then compare and analyze the Taxon Name that the various authors applied to the same Collection Objects over time.  This will then allow me to understand the Taxon Concepts that the different authors who studied the Collection Objects and Taxon Names had.  It is that history of Taxon Concepts that Chris and I tried to describe in a talk at the New Zealand TDWG meeting--and how that history is entirely different from the history of the Taxon Name.
I hope that clarifies what this taxonomist at least is looking for (at least in part...there are many other examples that I can use at later times).


From: Bob Morris [mailto:morris.bob at gmail.com]
Sent: Sat 02-Jun-07 3:29 PM
To: Weitzman, Anna
Cc: Richard Pyle; Paul Kirk; Jason Best; tdwg-guid at lists.tdwg.org
Subject: Re: [tdwg-guid] First step in implementing LSIDs?[Scanned]

On 6/2/07, Weitzman, Anna <WEITZMAN at si.edu> wrote:
>[... 7 examples omitted]
> Either each of these (1-7) will need to have its own LSID (or an equivalent in the case of the specimen itself) or they will all need to have the same LSID.  If the former, they will all have to resolve to the same parent LSID--is this for the specimen or the record in its home database?--in order for the overall biodiversity information system to really work.

Two different objects cannot have the same LSID by definition. [This
is more or less the sole overarching point of GUIDs].

I don't know what is meant by "parent LSID", but TDWG requires that an
LSID resolution service  return its metadata in RDF, the Resource
Description Framework semantic web language. By its design, RDF is
especially good at expressing relations between things it describes,
so there is plenty of room for the LSID metadata to express whatever
relations between these examples each of its resolution services might
wish to. Furthermore, the emergent TDWG ontology standards (see
TDWG-TAG) support some particularly convenient ways to do this,
should the various interest groups be motivated to visit this
question. That would be Good Thing,  so that different resolvers of
similar objects might actually offer similar, or at least as to
relations, easily comparable, metadata. Still, each subgroup is likely
to need to thrash these issues out separately. The TCS group is
historically ahead of everybody else in this regard, since they
expressed a fixed set of relations among Taxon Concepts more or less
ab initio.

More information about the tdwg-tag mailing list