[tdwg-tag] Re-organisation of TDWG Ontology: Danger silencewill == acquiescence!

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Sun May 17 05:39:57 CEST 2009

No time to comment on this very interesting thread to the extent that I
should (perhaps more later), but I will make one comment: 

> For example, Zoobank has minted a LSID, 
> urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:20B00870-7416-4583-ADE0-4302E5571B66
> , that includes the triple:
> tpub:url "doi: 10.3897/zookeys.10.157"

Just for the record:

Do NOT, by any means, regard ZooBank as a production LSID provider/resolver!
ZooBank is, and remains, very much a prototype in all senses of the word
(keep in mind that it's being developed entirely by a guy who knows
painfully little about web service development, and who seldom achieves more
than four contiguous hours of sleep in any 24-hour period -- volunteer
developers and funding sources are most, most, most welcome!).  So, the
point is, there are MANY MANY aspects of ZooBank that are known to be
non-functional, or mis-functional, and (as in this case) there are many
opportunities for users to enter information incorrectly or into the wrong
fields (the doi obviously should have been in the identifier field; not the
URL field).

This is NOT directed at Rod -- in fact, perhaps more than just about anyone
else, Rod has been instrumentally supportive of the ZooBank cause (perhaps
without realizing it).  Moreover, I welcome cases of ZooBank's shortcomings
to be used in this fashion as an exemplar of how not to do something (helps
me become aware of a problem that needs to be fixed).  But I've seen in
other discussion venues the misperception that ZooBank is some sort standard
bearer; when clearly it is not -- at least not at the technology level (not
at any level, really).

Having said, that, I do want to echo Rod's point that this is only one
example of many where data content "in the wild" will fail to conform with
expectations as documented in various technology specifications.  I see this
as an unavoidable consequence of a situation where the number of people who
want to "play the game" (in terms of providing standards-compliant data
online) vastly exceeds the number of people with the skills and knowledge to
do so correctly.  Until biodiversity informatics garners the same level of
societal support (and commensurate funding) as, say, global climate change;
this may not improve very quickly.

In our context, I believe the obvious path to salvation is through metadata
validation tools of the sort Rod endorses, plus the masterful work of people
like Markus for developing software tools to conceal the complexities that
render most of us glassy-eyed.

Gotta go...


P.S. After writing (but before sending) the above, I went through the rest
of the thread ("Newcomer's", etc.).  I most definitetly agree with Lynette,
and the other people who agree with Lynette. But it's tricky -- you need a
space for the techies to run full-throttle, without being encumbered by the
need for frequent translations to the vernacular. I'm speaking here in the
context of a non-techie for semantic web; but as a techie in other domains
(e.g., subaquatic respiration facilitation technologies).  Then you need a
space for the "in plain [insert your native language here] explanations",
for the rest of us to understand what's going on.  But the most critical
piece -- and the one that's often missing -- are the translators who can
bridge the gap (and keep the latter space update in response to progress in
the former space). Such translators not only require robust comminication
skills in both spaces; but also must have both the time, and the
inclination, to play that role.

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