[tdwg-tag] RDF/OWL Good Practices Task Group

Steve Baskauf steve.baskauf at vanderbilt.edu
Sun Sep 25 03:29:07 CEST 2011

The various responses are reassuring me that an RDF TG chartered (and 
potentially rechartered) by the TAG would be fine as long as the goals 
that are listed in the charter are an adequate "task" for the group. 

Bob Morris wrote:
> The membership is listed on the Members link at
> http://www.tdwg.org/activities/tag/, which is generically the place to
> find the answer to 1. That said, a number(?) of IG's  still have huge
> membership probably with no interest but getting notices of activity
> of the IG, because until tdwg-content was born, each IG kept its own
> mailing list. Probably in practice the Core Members of an IG are the
> ones that would bear the brunt of keeping Task outputs current, or
I was afraid that this was going to be the answer.  This means the TAG 
has 167 members (including me since I'm on the email list, what a 
surprise!).  My browser won't let me look at the names beyond the first 
50 people, so I can't actually see who all of the members are.  But out 
of that first 50, I only see the names of a few people whom I recognize 
as people who seem to actively be involved in the work of TDWG (at least 
based on who is making posts to the tdwg-content list).  So I would 
guess that many of those people fall into the category of people who 
just wanted to get "notices of activity" as Bob put it.  Given my 
newly-discovered power as a "member of the TAG" (whoa, does that make me 
a member of the famed TDWG Illuminati - especially since my name can't 
be seen on the list?!), I will exercise it by making a suggestion.  How 
about setting up a webpage (it could be something like Google Code or 
Google Groups if the TDWG website doesn't work, which often seems to be 
the case) where people can sign up/volunteer to be members of the TAG 
for a year.  Each year, the members would have to renew their membership 
or they get dropped from the list.  That would provide a real list of 
people who are currently serious about technical architecture issues.  
The email list could stay as it is.  Similarly, this page could have an 
updated list of the Core members.  I don't think that the list on the 
charter (http://www.tdwg.org/activities/tag/charter/) is up to date 
since it lists Roger Hyam as the Convener, but the group page, 
http://www.tdwg.org/activities/tag/ (correctly) says that Greg Whitbread 
is the Convener.  In addition to possibly making the TAG a more 
functional group (e.g. how does the TAG have a "vote" when we have no 
idea how many of the 167 members are actually serious participants?), it 
would also go a long way towards getting rid of this idea that there is 
a secret group in TDWG that wields power behind the scene.

On second thought, let's not make that a suggestion.  I'm making it an 
actual proposal.


Blum, Stan wrote:
> Bob is right -- interest groups and task groups run as long as there is
> interest AND no one moves (actively) to terminate the group.  So even if
> interest/activity trails off, the group still exists "on the books" to
> embarrass us and make us feel guilty.
> We have several groups that need to be revitalized, so to speak.  And we
> have a few that might need to be re-factored.  DarwinCore now overlaps
> Observations, Taxonomic Names and Concepts, possibly this new RDF group,
> etc.  But those are OPP -- other people's problems -- for the moment.
> But Hilmar is also right that TAG is more than a normal IG.  It has a review
> and advice role, in service to the executive and all the other interest
> groups.  
> In response to Hilmar's question, why should a task group have a charter? :
> to communicate the group's function to anyone not directly involved.  The
> approval is primarily to ensure that the communication is happening.
> BTW, I don't have strong feelings about whether this group should be a task
> group in TAG, or an independent Interest Group.  Focus on the work, not the
> classification.
> -Stan
> On 9/23/11 3:53 PM, "Bob Morris" <morris.bob at gmail.com> wrote:
>> You'll still have to have tasks, task groups, and TG charters. I don't
>> think you gain anything by proliferating IGs. It looks to me that the
>> outputs desired are outputs about the TDWG technical architecture. The
>> TAG charter is pretty unambiguous that these admirable outcomes are
>> part of its remit. As you remark, there either are or aren't people
>> interested in maintaining these outcomes. Those people can join the
>> TAG or they can join the newly named IG.  What difference will there
>> be in the workflow if it is a new IG or TAG?  I also don't think the
>> TDWG constitution forbids renewable TGs. But even if it does, an
>> annually chartered TG whose charter is essentially "we will review
>> best practices document X and bring it up to date." is probably low
>> overhead and quickly approved by the IG. If you can't find a group to
>> do that, then you can't find it whether you have a disinterested
>> interest group, or a disinterested task group.
>> Bob
>> On Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 6:31 PM, Hilmar Lapp <hlapp at nescent.org> wrote:
>>> Hi Steve -
>>> Bob suggested too that I changed the charter into an Interest Group charter.
>>> So I'm sorry if rather than moving anything forward I created mostly
>>> confusion.
>>> Having said that, the changes I made are a reflection of the context and
>>> scope of charge in which I think this group, whether it is now an IG or TG,
>>> should be operating, i.e., that I feel would make the most sense. I feel
>>> pretty strongly that producing and practically validating RDF/OWL data
>>> publishing and consumption practices will consist of more than one task, and
>>> the idea that this is a task we can do once and for all is rather concerning
>>> to me. In fact, IMHO it isn't even worth attempting - the technology
>>> landscape in this area is evolving so rapidly, anything we produce now is
>>> virtually guaranteed to be obsolete in one year if no group feels committed
>>> to maintain it.
>>> I'll also admit that I'm actually surprised to find that the TAG is an IG
>>> similar to all others. I would think the TAG ought to be a cross-cutting
>>> group that integrates the output from all IGs, and has no TGs of its own
>>> other than those devoted to accomplishing this cross-IG integration.
>>> Finally, if TGs are devoted to accomplishing one task and then they
>>> dissolve, I don't understand why anyone should be bothered with creating,
>>> and then approving a charter to start with - shouldn't they rather have an
>>> agenda (or possibly a proposal preceding that)? Either there are people
>>> willing to do the task or there are not - I don't see the point of the
>>> chartering/approval process here.
>>> So, apparently the TDWG process just confuses the hell out of me. And
>>> apparently it's really only an IG that would be in line with what I think is
>>>  the most useful way to do this. Can we still change to IG?
>>> -hilmar
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Steven J. Baskauf, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer
Vanderbilt University Dept. of Biological Sciences

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