[tdwg-tag] Differences in thinking between TDWG and LinkedData groups about data sharing / integration

Jim Croft jim.croft at gmail.com
Fri Apr 24 06:27:47 CEST 2009

Thanks Kevin - I did not say the activities were bad - just enigmatic.
  A decade or less ago we could take TDWG standards into the herbarium
and botanists and technicians alike could understand them and and what
they were trying to achieve.  We can not do that anymore, at least not
in our place, and I suspect this is a pattern that is replicated
almost everywhere. (Importantly, we used to be able to talk to
bureaucrats about the standards; now we just mumble the words 'TDWG
standard' in passing and hope they do not care too much - it has
worked so far - just hope they do not ask for any details.)

It is almost as though there was a conscious branch in the TDWG
evolutionary tree, a fork in the programming, but I can not put my
finger on when, where, how or why.

While this not in itself a bad thing, progress, like something else,
happens, one of the consequences is an intellectual disconnect between
the managers and bods in the collection (who usually have control of
the money) and the geeks at the computers.   If those with the money
can not see or understand what is being done with it, they are not
very disposed to parting with it.  And if they could see the churn
that is happening around uids, persistence and resolvability...  How
to rebuild and strengthen this connection is what keeps me awake at
night - I suspect it may not be possible now.

I look upon TDWG as clearing house for all information standards
applicable to biological collections and taxonomy.   In this respect I
am now a consumer more than a contributer and I have to admit that as
a clearing house, TDWG, even though it offers so much more, is now
pretty opaque to the average taxonomist.

Maybe that's the problem I am wrestling with. It is not so much that
sometime in the last decade TDWG switched from being a demand driven
to a supply side activity, but that the demand forked, taxonomists
went back to doing what they do best and the data integrators took
over the running (and a number of taxonomists in the process).

Maybe I am wrestling with something that does not need to be wrestled
with.  Maybe it is ok for the geeks to say to the taxonomists, here is
a new black box gizmo we have made for your stuff, use it.   But I
would disappointed if it was.  Collectors and taxonomists manage
'things', and TDWG is the *only* mechanism we have to help them to
know and be precise and unambiguous about those 'things' they manage.
So, for every 'thing' they are likely to encounter, TDWG needs to have
a rule about what they can or should do with it.  Not sure we need to
have a pronouncement on how, but, maybe we do...

And the technical architecture group is the only instrument I can see
in TDWG to identify and address TDWG's own internal competing (ok,
alternative) standards - and deprecating them as prior standards
without providing a replacement is not really the answer I want to

As for trying to improve the process, what part of the combination of
the words 'herd' and 'cats' is causing difficulty?  :)


On Fri, Apr 24, 2009 at 12:16 PM, Kevin Richards
<RichardsK at landcareresearch.co.nz> wrote:
> Pete
> You should have sent something around on the mailing list, I could have
> given you an example of a TaxonOccurrence.  Or perhaps you did and I missed
> it???
> Anyway, with Herb IMI, Paul Kirk and I have set up an resolver to provider
> TaxonOccurrence RDF data,
> see for example urn:lsid:herbimi.info:specimens:100069 (or
> http://lsid.herbimi.info/authority/metadata/?lsid=urn:lsid:herbimi.info:specimens:100069
> in your browser).  It also has an example of using Interaction data - ie in
> this case a host plant (IPNI ID) of a fungus (Herb IMI specimen) with an
> identification to a taxon concept and name (Index Fungorum name).
> Jim - feel free to help improve the ideas and processes of TDWG if you find
> them that bad.   :-)
> Kevin

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