[tdwg-tag] darwin core terms inside tdwg ontology

Paul Kirk p.kirk at cabi.org
Mon Apr 27 16:20:03 CEST 2009

I tend to agree with David ... but only to a point.
Are we not discussing the equivalent here of database normalization ...
where two diametrically opposite opinions hold - fully normalized and it
don't work (performance issue) or fully de-normalized and it don't work
(integrity issues - accepting that a well designed UI can protect
database content (and integrity) from the user)? Here we have
DwC-with-extensions on the one hand and something like TCS/CDM? on the
other. By taxonomic information I assume we mean that a taxonomic
opinion on a name has been expressed (usually by a person). If so, the
requirements are fairly basic - name with nomenclatorLSID, status, who,
when and where. It gets complex, and it's what I do not think DwC
supports, when everything in a complex taxonomic opinion (homotypic
names, heterotypic names, misapplications, pro-parte synonyms etc) is
placed in one 'object' - the equivalent of recursive joins to go back to
a database analogy.
In haste,


From: tdwg-tag-bounces at lists.tdwg.org
[mailto:tdwg-tag-bounces at lists.tdwg.org] On Behalf Of David Remsen
Sent: 27 April 2009 14:47
To: Kevin Richards
Cc: Technical Architecture Group mailing list; exec at tdwg.org
Subject: Re: [tdwg-tag] darwin core terms inside tdwg ontology

Kevin,   Can you tell me what the limitations are on being able to
exchange taxonomic information with the DwC terms?  As far as I can
tell, you can exchange fairly complex taxonomic information short of
concept-to-concept relations and I find the DwC-with-extensions approach
we are using to exchanging information tied to taxa (not instances of
taxa) to be a nice and practical compromise between complexity and
practicality.   My understanding is that the IPT can output TCS/RDF for
those who want it.   I am personally very happy to see the DwC taxon
terms added.  Finally I can provide format specifications that
biologists can understand.

David Remsen

On Apr 25, 2009, at 9:52 AM, Kevin Richards wrote:

	I see the ontology as a model of ALL (hopefully, eventually all)
the data in our domain of biodiversity informatics. 
	I would love to see it as a standard (at the least it might give
it a bit more clout).
	I agree that the ontology is useful to tie other TDWG schemas
together, using it as a core/master model.  I would be happy to see it
used for ALL tasks within TDWG, but I understand the usefulnes of the
more specific schemas/standards - horses for courses.
	If I understand Stan here, I agree with him about the dubious
use of DwC for representing Taxon Concepts/Names.  As far as I know, it
was really intended as a transfer standard for observation records??  It
contains very limited taxon information!  It really is not a overly
difficult job to use a more suitable schema/ontology.  I think the
popularity of Darwin Core is due to its simplicity - and I wonder if
what Roger is proposing will help with this - ie an XML implementation
of the ontology as well as an RDF version.  This will allow people to
create very simple XML documents with reasonably simple/flat data, eg an
xml document of TaxonName entities, with perhaps 6 or 7 or so key fields
- even simpler than DwC.   :-)

	From: tdwg-tag-bounces at lists.tdwg.org
[tdwg-tag-bounces at lists.tdwg.org] On Behalf Of Blum, Stan
[sblum at calacademy.org]
	Sent: Saturday, 25 April 2009 6:12 a.m.
	To: Technical Architecture Group mailing list; exec at tdwg.org
	Subject: Re: [tdwg-tag] darwin core terms inside tdwg ontology
	From: tdwg-tag-bounces at lists.tdwg.org on behalf of John R.
	Sent: Fri 2009-04-24 8:58 AM
	To: Roger Hyam
	Cc: Technical Architecture Group mailing list
	Subject: Re: [tdwg-tag] darwin core terms inside tdwg ontology
	Anything I should do on the DwC side in anticipation of harmony?
	At some point, all or (most) of the DarwinCore terms need to be
added to the TDWG ontology.
	But having said that, I also need to say that I'm uncomfortable
	1) The current state of the TDWG ontology (primarily the naming
conventions; lets just use terms names), and our understanding of the
role it plays in TDWG and how it will be managed (entry of terms,
integration of terms into the conceptual [is-a / has-a] relationships to
other terms); and
	2) the fact that the new DarwinCore straddles or overlaps the
roles of an ontology and an application schema.
	I understood the past TAG roadmaps to indicate that we were
adopting an approach in which the TDWG Ontology would be a repository
for data concepts that are present in (or implied by) TDWG standards;
and that real data transmission would be accomplished with application
schemas.  The ontology itself would not be a standard, but would be a
tool that helps integrate standards.  I thought our standards would be
created to function as application schemas or components of application
schemas (as in the DwC and its extensions).  I am now pretty confused.
I'd like to hear the rationale for combining taxonomic name/concept with
organism occurrence.  I haven't gone over all the existing docs, so
apologies if I've missed that, but I think it's confusing that a (new)
DarwinCore record could be either a taxonomic name or an organism
occurrence, or maybe something else.  Maybe I'm too attached to object
orientation and just don't GET the semantic web, but it feels to me like
we are stepping into squishy ground.
	Also, I the the DCMI maintenance procedures are also more
appropriately applied to the ontology than a TDWG standard.  The
existing process for ratifying TDWG standards and the procedure in the
DwC seem to be pretty explicitly in conflict; one can change the other
cannot (without becoming another thing).
	Is anyone else having these same trepidations?  I don't think
I've been as much of a Rip Van Winkle as Jim Croft, but I clearly missed
some important shifts. 


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