[tdwg-tag] SourceForge LSID project websites broken - role for TDWG?

Lee Belbin leebel at netspace.net.au
Thu Apr 9 07:03:08 CEST 2009

I can't hold off commenting on this discussion any longer. Apologies for the
tome of accumulating thoughts.


As noted, there are three aspects to recent discussions about GUIDs - the
techie (easy?) bits, the social (harder?) bits and the funding/financial
(hardest?) bits.


I was at the two TDWG funded meetings to decide on an appropriate GUID for
the biodiversity informatics community. The (wide-ranging) group decided to
support LSIDs. A number of us subsequently rounded up a library of resources
(http://wiki.tdwg.org/GUID/) and drafted quite a few documents
(http://www.tdwg.org/activities/guid/documents/) including the LSID
Applicability Statement (the application of an existing standard to our


Ricardo Pereira (among a host of other work) setup the SourceForge site
(http://lsids.sourceforge.net/) and that is the ONLY TDWG LSID resource that
is currently down. It is down because SourceForge changed their website

provider configuration (with previous notice) that broke our setup, and we
were not able to restore it - but we are working on it (minus Ricardo -
which is why the delay). To quote Ricardo:  "Important pieces of the LSID
infrastructure were never off-line, not even for a minute in the last year
or so. Examples: 









The actual LSID infrastructure, including the TDWG LSID resolver and the
LSID authorities listed there have always been operational, as you can see
from the links above. The open source community website that supports
software developers involved in implementing LSID clients and resolvers also
was never off-line:


http://sourceforge.net/projects/lsids   (open source collaboration site) 

http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=198923 (downloads)

http://lsids.svn.sourceforge.net/viewvc/lsids/   (version control -

http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/forum.php?forum_name=lsid-developer (LSID
developer forum)"


As has been stated previously, the 'social' aspects involved in the uptake
of standards is important. As Jim said, TDWG develops standards (not
software or an implementation service).  We assume end-users have the skills
to use the standards or that companies such as ETI (that are thin on the
ground) can provide a service. This has drawn criticism. It is not an easy
call as we are already spread far too thinly. We have also previously missed
addressing the needs of the managers of the people in TDWG (who hold the
purse strings and who make decisions).  I did commission 'executive
summaries' of most of the TDWG 'standards' (including at least three on
LSIDs) but I agree that we need to consider deployment before a new TDWG
standard is released.


One of my responsibilities as part of the TDWG Infrastructure Project (TIP)
was to consider a funding model for TDWG. I found it amazing that an
organization in TDWG's position has so few members. TDWG develops

standards for sharing biodiversity information. Most of us know just how
central that is (as has been stated) for work such as GBIF, CoL, EoL, ALA,
EDIT, OBIS, ITIS....and all museums, herbaria etc (a hell of a huge
community!!). In 'biodiversity', we are also talking about one of the
planets key resources!  


When TIP started, TDWG had 23 individual members and 17 institutional
members. Amazing isn't it!? Why? Maybe because of the small original overlap
of let's call them 'biotypes' with Information Technologists? TDWG started
as a club of IT inclined biotypes playing with databases. The explosion of
IT has radically changed that. TDWG is still at a point where the biotypes
can't easily understand the few (unbelievably valuable and overworked!)
people with IT skills that TDWG had fortunately attracted.


I know that some people have not joined TDWG because they see it as
'bureaucratic': To quote Rod Page and Nike "...Just do it...". I'm convinced
that TIP's restructured TDWG has addressed that. Movement is now far more
dependent on the individual than the committee - and we can't do better (or
worse) than that. 


It was obvious to me that we needed to build TDWG membership before we look
to Sugar Daddies or more handouts. With a substantial membership, we make a
stronger case to potential supporters, and we can better spread the load. In
2008, we had 32 Individual members and 47 institutional members - better but
still a very small percentage of the catchment of those who should be
supporting TDWG in some form. 


In discussing financial models, I would like to single out GBIF's support of
TDWG. TDWG has a special relationship with GBIF. TDWG does have an excess of
servers that can be used for infrastructure such as mentioned (thanks to
TIP). These servers are housed and supported by GBIF. We GREATLY appreciate
this considerable support.


How does all of this relate to the LSID discussion?


1. As an Australian media personality likes to say "It is better to have
people inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in." This on two
counts. A decision was made to try and implement LSIDs. A lot of work has

been done toward that goal. The LSID Applicability Statement forms a
foundation for general GUID use. If we decide something is better, evolution
should not be a major hassle. Donald, as the Chairman of TDWG also deserves
our support (will anyone else out there take on the role?). Ben Richardson
has taken on the role of Review Manager of the LSID Applicability Statement.
When it goes to public review (hopefully soon), do what you can to make the
document a useful foundation for future developments. Please be


2. Do what you can to assist TDWG to build the membership and to spread the
(considerable) load. A hybrid financial model is a foregone conclusion. Full
stop. We need a substantial membership to fund infrastructure support (as
has been discussed). Medium to long-term funding support from external
agencies to support infrastructure is almost impossible. We also need
substantial additional funding for specific projects that probably can't get
done without it. Right now we are desperate for an effective tool for
building/discussing/maintaining a TDWG ontology. TDWG is going to be
increasingly dependent on an effective ontology. Unless I'm blind, this
project should be in good position to attract special funding. LSID (or
other GUID) infrastructure looks equally important.




Lee Belbin

TDWG Secretariat

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