[tdwg-tag] [BULK] TDWG ontology revisited ... a newcomer's perspective

rupertwilson at rhs.org.uk rupertwilson at rhs.org.uk
Thu May 14 10:55:30 CEST 2009

As one of those not-so-newcomers who has been attending TDWG meetings for the last few years I feel I should speak out in agreement with Lynette.  Whilst I may understand the general ideas the techno-speak is truly baffling.  I appreciate that technology is evolving and the TDWG community is looking for the best way to embrace it but could you not spare a thought for those organisations like mine who have information they would like to share but are bewildered by the multitude of ways to do it?  Having limited development resources the last thing I want my organisation to do is deliver information using technology "a" which is currently flavour of the moment only to find in twelve months that we should really be using technology "b" because that is what everyone else is using.  I feel there is also a divide here between the research community which can chop and change the way it handles its data and the more constrained organisations such as mine where the data is of critical/core use to the organisation and can't be re-purposed as easily.


Perhaps TDWG would also consider identifying mentors who would be willing to offer support to those lurking in the back of Aladdin's Cave currently too scared to come out into the light?


Rupert Wilson


RHS Horticultural Database

Royal Horticultural Society

Wisley, UK.



From: tdwg-tag-bounces at lists.tdwg.org [mailto:tdwg-tag-bounces at lists.tdwg.org] On Behalf Of Lynette.Woodburn at csiro.au
Sent: 14 May 2009 04:31
To: tdwg-tag at lists.tdwg.org
Subject: [BULK] [tdwg-tag] TDWG ontology revisited ... a newcomer's perspective
Importance: Low


Back to basics ...


Anyone new to biodiversity informatics (in general) and TDWG (in particular) might be expected, as a first step, to seek a broad understanding of the scope of the knowledge domain which is of interest to the community they've just joined.  Next, they're likely to want to gain an understanding of each of the main concepts and to discover how those concepts relate to one other.  Delving yet deeper, curiosity will lead them to seek details about features used by the community to characterise each of those main concepts.  So, gradually, it is anticipated that newcomers will gain an understanding of the meaning associated by their fellow community members with elements (concepts, features, relationships) within the knowledge domain.  (Those elements are, after all, the chief subjects of discourse amongst community members.)


This fantastic voyage of discovery, these first steps into Aladdin's Cave, ought to be made easy for any newcomer.  Instead, TDWG presents a dizzying array of perspectives on disparate subsets of elements within the knowledge domain, often with only cryptic, tenuous links binding them together.  'Horses-for-courses'-drivers clearly exist for these subsets, but where is the common community understanding of where each element fits into the broader, shared knowledge domain which is TDWG's scope?


I fully support any initiative which more effectively leads newcomers (and not-so-newcomers) to that place: that place where I would hope to find, in plain expressions devoid of techno-speak, a description of each real world element (concept, feature, relationship), together with a simple representation (a label?) by which the TDWG community prefers each to be referred; that place which evolves, but endures, independently of technological fashions and particular implementations; that place I can visit to paint a picture in my mind's eye of TDWG's own Aladdin's Cave.


Lynette Woodburn

Atlas of Living Australia


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