Dissemination via WWW

Geoff Read g.read at niwa.cri.nz
Wed Oct 23 22:14:22 EST 1996


We may be getting a little away from annelid research but it is important
to see what views are held out there. Here's my 2c.

Dissemination of _information_ via the WWW (or CD-Rom as second best) is
to be heartily encouraged. WWW can far surpass paper print in
accessibility, immediacy, low costs, speed of publication, and outreach to
an audience well beyond your co-specialists. The commercial journal
publishers are worried, and are planning how they can elbow in and
maintain market-share of your organisation's dollars in the future. 

For taxonomy tools you can 'publish' or at least have online, dynamic
(constantly updating) things such as museum collection databases and
literature databases and various catalogues of taxa. Also evolving,
interactive items like keys and guides to taxa (with images). Paper print
is left struggling in the dust when presenting the equivalent. Ecologists
also can display maps and datasets and images that would not be available
in paper print. You can also put up ideas/works for critique by your peers
as we have just seen, or as preprints of forthcoming hardcopy.

Some of those strengths are also defects  when viewed from another
perspective. A potentially impermanent, potentially changing document will
not be the primary  place where anyone will publish new species until
technology can create a date-stamped, authenticated, encrypted document,
readable by anyone with a simple viewer, but not modifiable. It may
already be possible, I don't know. Also there is not yet a formal review
process to audit quality of content. We know that and so we don't _yet_
expect the same rigour in an ordinary web page as in conventional
publishing. It will happen. There is no reason why, for example, the Int.
Polychaetology Assoc. or any similar progressive group, could not
eventually get organised to start a formal electronic publication - "The
International Online Journal of Polychaete Research" - with full editing
and reviewing of content.

The ICZN third ed. didn't contemplate the electronic documents we have
today and even the new draft code was formulated before the explosion in
use of WWW.  As I see it under  the current rules a WWW page could
satisfy the _rules_ for publication. It would probably not pass on 
_recommendation_ 8a on undesirable processes, but should we take strict
notice of recommendations designed for other times? (By the way Tom
Parker's page is back online with a disclaimer to satisfy Article 8).

Matters arising:

I am not an censor/editor of the list content. Moderating the Annelida
list I intercept obviously unwanted or misdirected messages and forward
the rest. Occasionally I need to do just a little of what can be termed as
'tidying up' a message. I much prefer not to, and certainly do not exercise any
editorial control over what is said. Regarding Kansas WWW pages  not
created by me, if they are there I have decided they are worthwhile, but I
act more as technician/advisor in getting them online than as editor of
content.

Translations can be put on the Kansas web site, as can any other
computerised document you would like to circulate. I do want  more
contributions. Please e-mail to me and I will format  them for HTML . This
makes them available to everyone at much reduced effort all round than
distributing on direct request.  (I have just added a link from
http://www.keil.ukans.edu/~worms/transl.html to chrysopetalid translations
on Thomas Dahlgren's home page at Tjarno MBL (Thanks to Thomas for putting
them up)). Of course translations are not the original document and so
should be treated with equal circumspection whether web-based or paper
typescript.

Annelida postings are currently taking many hours to be mailed out by the
bionet listserver after I forward them. Just a warning that there may be
a delay to be expected, and there is probably nothing to be done about it.
You can still check for your posting on the bionet web archive.

Regards to you all,

--
Geoff Read             <g.read at niwa.cri.nz>
|\ | | \  /\  /  /\    Nat. Inst. Water & Atmos. Res., Wellington NZ
| \| |  \/  \/  /--\   Taihoro Nukurangi	 
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