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

Lynette.Woodburn at csiro.au Lynette.Woodburn at csiro.au
Thu May 14 05:30:58 CEST 2009

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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