I had the pleasure of visiting Cape Town recently for the second Diversitas Open Science Conference (OSC2). Diversitas is an organization that attempts to bridge that tricky divide between science policy and practice for Biodiversity science. To this end the conference brought together about 600 scientists and policy makers spanning various ends of basic and applied biodiversity science. I was there to talk about the role infrastructures like the Scratchpad project can play in global biodiversity projects, as part of a session titled "global approaches to taxonomy and biodiversity research". The session was reasonably well attended, but with nine parallel sessions it was hard to make much of an impact.
Yesterday (18th Aug, 2009) I had two very different experiences dealing with queries about the licensing of images. The first was a query from paleontologist Mike Everhart, working at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, Kansas. Mike is working on a Pteranodon chapter in an upcoming book on pterosaurs and had discovered a photograph on Flickr of a Pteranodon specimen (AMNH FR7515) that I took during a recent visit to the American Museum of Natural History. Despite being on exhibit since the 1950s, it turns out the specimen had dropped out of the mainstream and has never been figured in a publication. By snapping the picture during a hurried visit to the exhibits (after giving a talk) I’ve helped the specimen to be rediscovered. Mike was asking for permission to use the image on his Pteranodon website, as my snapshot is apparently better than a much older official image.
I have published a short invited paper in BMC Research Notes on the topic of data publication. The paper focuses on the challenge of making data publication a reality, as distinct from the publication of more traditional, synthetic papers that typically ghettoize data to the margins of traditional scholarly communication. I talk about the need to develop infrastructure, incentives and functionality required motivate the various stakeholders into publishing data.
Although it is almost one year away, preparations for the Fourth International Congress on Phthiraptera (ICP4) in Turkey are well underway. I have been involved in organizing the last three meetings (ICP2 in Brisbane, Australia 2002, and ICP3 in Buenos Aires, Argentina 2006) but this has to be the most organized we have ever been. This is due to Kosta Mumcuoglu and the local organizing committee who have done such a great job of pulling the meeting together. Here are a few more details:
This post is redundant, because it’s so late in coming. Consequently it’s more of an aide-memoire for me rather than anything else. For the uninitiated e-Biosphere 09 was an International Conference held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London from 1-3rd June. The conference brought an international mix of about 500 people working on the rather nebulous topic of “biodiversity informatics". The conference was coupled with an invite only meeting (dubbed the Silverbacks meeting) where the great and the good got together to produce a roadmap for the discipline. Here is a personalized list of the conference highlights, lowlights and outcomes:
The server where this site is mounted has been up and down on a regular basis over much of June ‘09. Apologies for this! The lab where the server sits has been moved and building work has meant that the lab’s power supply has been regularly disrupted. For various good reasons that I won’t delve into here, the server is mounted in Rod Page’s lab in Glasgow, and I am based at the Natural History Museum in London. Consequently, it is not easy for me to do much about power outages. My thanks go to Rod Page, Joseph Hughes and Simon Rycroft, who have variously prodded and poked the server into action in my absence.
The Scratchpad project has seen a number of developments recently. Here is a quick update on the key topics.
The Fourth International Congress on Phthiraptera (ICP4) that will be held in the conference facilities of the Mustafa Hotel, Urgup, Cappadocia, Turkey, between June 13-18, 2010. Further details can be found on the conference website
We will be running a series of Scratchpad training courses, tacked on to various meeting during 2009. The first will be run at end of the e-Biosphere meeting this June, and at the time of writing we still have a few places left (four to be exact). This course will be on Thursday June 4th at the Natural History Museum. An outline of this free 1-day event can be found at http://scratchpads.eu/training. If you or your colleagues are interested in attending, please use this web form to sign up.
Parts of the taxonomic community just don't get sustainability. I have always known this was a problem, but two events this week demonstrate just how much work there is to do in explaining why sustainability matters. Early this week I received a series of e-mails on the TDWG mailing list that said the websites for the two LSID projects on SourceForge are broken (see here and here). For the uninitiated, LSID stands for 'Life Science Identifier'. These are supposed to be the Globally Unique IDentifier (GUID) of choice for the taxonomic community. In essence this is the system of numbering (a barcode if you like) that we give biodiversity data, such that we can electronically find it again. In theory, LSID's were our community’s way of guaranteeing the sustainability (i.e. citability) of biodiversity data, and it is thus deeply ironic that the LSID project has itself proven unsustainable.