Saturday, May 16, 2009

Here another twist to the decade *: Is biodiversity missing out again in the current closing of the digital divide?

There are two relevant articles to this issue: one in BBC-online that states
" How ridiculous then that over the last three months, climate change has had 1,382 mentions in British national newspapers.
Yet, during the same period, biodiversity was mentioned just 115 times."

The second one in today's Tagesanzeiger, a Swiss newspaper asking the question "Gibt es in Afrika bald ein Silicon Valley" and continues" Jetzt brauchen Schulen in Timbuktu statt ganzer Bibliotheken nur noch ein paar Secondhand-Computer, um den Lernenden Zugang zum gesammelten Wissen der Welt zu verschaffen."

This refers to Jeff Sachs and his conclusions (see eg in his article "The digital war on poverty, Aug 21, 2008" in the Guardian) that the digital divide is now closing to the very great advantage of the developing world.

"Moreover, market penetration in poor countries is rising sharply. India has around 300 million subscribers, with subscriptions rising by a stunning eight million or more per month. Brazil now has more than 130 million subscribers, and Indonesia was estimated to reach 120 million. In Africa, which contains the world's poorest countries, the market is soaring, with more than 280 million subscribers."

So, we talk about getting a list of names up in the next decade or so, whilst the world around us wants content, such as publications, images, specimen and related data as starting point to find out, what is known about a species, which is a pest species, etc.

There is no discussion that each name should be linked to at least one reference specimen with a state of the domain documentation attached to it. It is clear, that creating visual documentation is not anymore a stumbling block, but it seems rather our vision to take this chance.

There is very little discussion that only names should be published unless the related information is online accessible (eg through Zoobank) thus not only delivering what the world wants from us (good for us, that we have such a huge user base that we do not need to build up) but will save us a huge amount of work to retrofit data.

We had a great chance in 1992 (Rio), but our communities and our leaders didn't had a vision to create this global system needed to make a competitive point that biodiversity is relevant but rather continued go build on their minuscule, obviously obsolete fiefdoms.

We should not let slip what Jeff Sachs observes, and end up in the next decade with the above mentioned dismal little attention observed by Gardiner - the vision to build a list of names will not do the job, nor will we get there without additional, so far non-existent support.

* This is a thought regarding an argument David Patterson stated in the Taxaxcom list serve on May 12.


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