[tdwg-tag] Lobbing grenades: a challenge

Bob Morris morris.bob at gmail.com
Tue Sep 20 12:14:33 CEST 2011

How would you answer your question about

1. XML
2. XML validated by XML-Schema
3. CSV
4. ASCII dumps of relational data

If there is an answer, X,  for one of those, an answer to your
challenge will, often, be that RDF accomplishes things like X but
without difficult D, for various values of D.

It's also arguable, that the formal semantics available to the RDF
stack and other ontology-based data representation schemes, allows the
building hypothesis testing software, sometimes more easily than, for
example, data mining. The biomedical community has been doing that for
30 years or more. Most other sciences are just now getting with the

On Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 4:40 AM, Roderic Page <r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk> wrote:
> It's morning and the coffee hasn't quite kicked in yet, but reading through
> recent TDWG TAG posts, and mindful of the upcoming meeting in New Orleans
>  (which sadly I won't be attending) I'm seeing a mismatch between the amount
> of effort being expended on discussions of vocabularies, ontologies, etc.
> and the concrete results we can point to.
> Hence, a challenge:
> "What new things have we learnt about biodiversity by converting
> biodiversity data into RDF?"
> I'm not saying we can't learn new things, I'm simply asking what have we
> learnt so far?
> Since around 2006 we have had literally millions of triples in the wild
> (uBio, ION, Index Fungorum, IPNI, Catalogue of Life, more recently
> Biodiversity Collections Index, Atlas of Living Australia, World Register of
> Marine Species, etc.), most of these using the same vocabulary. What new
> inferences have we made?
> Let's make the challenge more concrete. Load all these data sources into a
> triple store (subchallenge - is this actually possible?). Perhaps add other
> RDF sources (DBpedia, Bio2RDF, CrossRef). What novel inferences can we make?
> I may, of course, simply be in "grumpy old arse" mode, but we have millions
> of triples in the wild and nothing to show for it. I hope I'm not alone in
> wondering why...
> Regards
> Rod
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> Roderic Page
> Professor of Taxonomy
> Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
> College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences
> Graham Kerr Building
> University of Glasgow
> Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
> Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
> Tel: +44 141 330 4778
> Fax: +44 141 330 2792
> AIM: rodpage1962 at aim.com
> Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1112517192
> Twitter: http://twitter.com/rdmpage
> Blog: http://iphylo.blogspot.com
> Home page: http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/rod.html
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Robert A. Morris

Emeritus Professor  of Computer Science
100 Morrissey Blvd
Boston, MA 02125-3390
IT Staff
Filtered Push Project
Department of Organismal and Evolutionary Biology
Harvard University

email: morris.bob at gmail.com
web: http://efg.cs.umb.edu/
web: http://etaxonomy.org/mw/FilteredPush
phone (+1) 857 222 7992 (mobile)

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