Pseudo-Taxonomy on the WWW

Mike Satterwhite msatterw at
Mon Oct 21 18:41:58 EST 1996

The issue of electronic publication is not one that will go away. There 
are two issues, the archive and distribution. Anyone searching for older 
literature knows that you better be close to a good science library, or 
you will have to wait a long time for the copy to get to you from the 
archive, if you can find a library with the publications. If you are in 
the 3rd World, obstacles are even greater.

Start devising a protocol to answer both archive and distributuion
issues. While it's unwise to trust CDROM or other electronic media,
safety is in replication and renewal. Electronic media will make it
possible for a biologist to own the whole library, not just the
journals he can afford to subscribe to.

Maybe the NIH/NSF needs to commit to researching methods for
creating and maintaining archived record, and to coordinate that
with our libraries,


D. Michael Satterwhite, PhD.			Phone: 	208-799-2890 at LCSC
Division of Natural Science and Mathematics	Home:   208-746-3628/7288
Lewis-Clark State College			Fax:    208-799-2064  
500 8th Street
Lewiston, Idaho  83501				e-mail: msatterw at

On Mon, 21 Oct 1996, Sam James wrote:

> I would like to weigh in on Paul Schroeder's side with a further cautionary
> note.
> Think of all the data carefully archived on punch cards or big tape reels a
> decade or two ago.  Suppose you wanted that stuff usable NOW. Could you get
> it?  Probably not without a fishing expedition.  How about ten years from
> now?  Go to the city dump, find the equipment, etc.  Suppose you archive the
> web publications on CD-ROM, or some other apparently long-lived medium?
> There are people who seriously doubt the longevity of the physical medium
> (in decades), and whether or not the data format will be easily retrievable
> in 20 years. Technology under development now could put a trillion bytes per
> cubic centimeter of plastic.  When that happens, who is going to keep those
> clunky old 10X CD-ROM drives, or bulky old backup tape cartridges?  Who is
> going to take the time to reformat and re-store those old e-publications
> each time technology takes a great leap in storage/retrieval systems?  Will
> every museum of natural history also have to maintain a museum of computer
> technology?  While paper may not have the aura of permanence about it
> (fires, acids, floods, etc.), it sure looks better for taxonomic work than
> electronic publication.  Besides, scanners and OCR equipment are getting
> better all the time. 
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> ~  Sam James                ~
> ~  Dept. of Biology         ~
> ~  Maharishi Univ. of Mgmt. ~
> ~  Fairfield, IA 52557      ~
> ~  sjames at           ~
> ~  515-472-1146             ~
> ~ Systematics and Ecology   ~
> ~ of Earthworms             ~
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

More information about the Annelida mailing list