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TRIN Forum 2009 Jim Croft Hub Research Information Systems (HubRIS) Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research Australian National Herbarium Australian National.

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Presentation on theme: "TRIN Forum 2009 Jim Croft Hub Research Information Systems (HubRIS) Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research Australian National Herbarium Australian National."— Presentation transcript:

1 TRIN Forum 2009 Jim Croft Hub Research Information Systems (HubRIS) Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research Australian National Herbarium Australian National Botanic Gardens Framework for Collaborative Taxonomy

2 Outline The problem Historical taxonomy What we are trying to achieve A new taxonomy The TRIN solution TRIN HubRIS The TRIN Wiki Progress so far Possibilities and dead ends? The blogosphere Will it work? Engagement Expectation of this forum Discussion


4 The Problem for Taxonomy Too many species Too much complexity Too much subtlety Too few taxonomists Too few resources Too much demand To little time Need a different business model

5 Historical Taxonomy Some generalizations: A career Individual, solitary Work independent of other projects (vague context) A lifes work Sustained development of knowledge, expertise Objectives, goals self set Few deadlines Flexible overall budget Limited set of end products Species discovery Revision Flora, Fauna accounts Monograph

6 What are we trying to achieve? Greater knowledge Greater coverage Greater detail Greater productivity with the same resources Greater efficiency (MBA code for less money) Greater and more diverse audience Greater responsiveness Greater relevance Greater support (Taxonomy code for more money)

7 A New Taxonomy Some generalizations: A project, a task Collaboration, teamwork Work linked to other projects (defined context) A phase in a taxonomic career Bring knowledge, expertise to the task Objectives, goals set by stake holders Tight deadlines Fixed overall budget Specific set of end products - traditional products, plus: On-line data sets – text, images, etc Modular taxon profiles, fact sheets, etc. Interactive keys Interactive maps, spatial models, etc.


9 TRIN HubRIS Hub Research Information Systems Team of five: Margaret Cawsey (ANWC) Garry Jolley-Rogers (TRIN) Paul Alexander (TRIN) Paul Harvey (TRIN) Siobhan Duffy (CSIRO PI) Advice from: Jim Croft (ANH) Greg Whitbread (ANBG) Anyone else who cares to give it

10 TRIN HubRIS The role of HubRIS: Collaborate with TRIN participants Collaborate with external taxonomy projects Provide technologies to facilitate communication Implement technologies to assist with taxonomy and information management Collaborate with the Atlas of Living Australia, etc. Participate in other biodiversity informatics projects in Australia and internationally Promote biodiversity information standards To create and leave a sound and robust information management legacy for taxonomy

11 TRIN HubRIS – General principles Seek solutions to achieve better outcomes faster Embedded conflict Necessary compromise Work with taxonomists throughout the project Consult at beginning Continual engagement, feedback Do it once, store it well, reuse it often Modularization Nomenclatural databases, specimen databases Evaluate existing technology, applications EDIT Scratchpads; BioLink, Specify, MX, etc.

12 TRIN HubRIS – General principles Advocate free and open software solutions Yardstick - Could we give it to PNG? Acknowledge some solutions require proprietary products Try to design the systems around the people not the other way around Importance of a key technology person or champion in each project Try to break the 90:9:1 rule Most people look A few edit A very few contribute

13 TRIN HubRIS – some projects Taxonomy workflow Analysis Identifying pinch points Evaluating technological and other solutions Looking for efficiency, throughput, productivity Provides a framework for information management projects Remote identification Interactive video technology EVO, etc. Puts client in touch with the expert in real time Faster ID turnaround Potential commercial savings

14 TRIN HubRIS – some projects Interactive keys Data standards TDWG SDD Also TDWG SPM Also TDWG ontologies and vocabularies Several good products Delta, Lucid, etc. Free but proprietary Different standards / structures Developed under a single user model Collaborative data management Many claiming the niche No universal working/workable solution yet If there was we would all be using it Killer app?

15 TRIN HubRIS – some projects Taxon profiles As in Floras, Faunas, factsheets Almost universal need Nearly every TRIN project will generate profiles Non taxonomists generate profiles Feed into the ALA, EoL, other projects Aggregators and mashups Grab user defined bits of a profile Lack of agreed standards Good standards for taxonomy, specimens, but not taxa Universal vs discipline-specific TDWG Standards a start SPM, SDD, ontologies and vocabularies Need work Could become very complex if we let it

16 TRIN HubRIS – some projects Taxon profiles Work needed on content What is in, what is out General vs detail continuum Freedom vs constraint Work needed on technical specification Categorization Work needed on technical implementation Database design issues Main users are not core TRIN projects External users May not be taxonomists

17 TRIN HubRIS – some projects Bibliographic references Track and manages bibliographic references for scientific papers Distinct from formal nomenclatural references cf. APNI, AFD, etc. An emerging common issue across projects Many use different stand-alone proprietary systems Home made systems Full-blown library systems Is a common, flexible generic solution possible?


19 The TRIN wiki Primary tool for project documentation & management Insert into taxonomy workflow Principle of public visibility Principle of user contribution It is your wiki, you build it A continual work in progress Restricted editing control for each group Editing control requirement; +/- WYSYWG editor MediaWiki (as in Wikipedia) unsuitable TWiki Provision for subwikis Provision for internal private WikiWebs Optional add-ons Some may be suitable for taxonomy projects

20 The TRIN wiki Arranged in WikiWebs Linked topic pages within and between webs Text, images Tables, forms, etc. Attachments (.doc,.xls,.ppt, etc.) A WikiWeb for each project +/- self contained Content is created and posted by projects Edit access is controlled to registered participants Private wikis can be created in each wiki Preparation of grant proposals Allows confidential work on manuscripts Teasing out outrageously embarrassing ideas Tolerated but not encouraged

21 The TRIN wiki Taxa webs Main focus and purpose of the wiki Dealing with specific taxonomic projects A foundation of workbench for taxonomy A repository Data Results Discussion Core TRIN projects e.g Vertebrates, Ants, Weeds, Mayflies Independent taxonomy projects e.g. Mangroves, Rainforests, Bryophytes, Wasps Simple criterion: more than one person working on a taxonomy project

22 The TRIN wiki Project webs Dealing with general taxonomic projects e.g. Keys, Taxonomic process, Capacity Building, HubRIS Infrastructure webs Dealing with TRIN management and operations e.g Management, Knowledge Exchange, Forums, TRIN Web Meta webs Dealing with the management of the wiki itself Home, SandBox, TWiki

23 The TRIN Wiki Personal topic pages A place to store whatever you like Personal profile Links to personal websites Links to interesting websites Papers Discussions Diary Whatever


25 Progress so far Information management infrastructure Servers Network TRIN website TRIN wiki TRIN listservers User subscribing email lists

26 Progress so far – evaluation Information management infrastructure Evolving, stabilizing (?) TRIN web +/- complete +/- static project brochures TRIN wiki Fragmentary +/- dynamic (in places) Project descriptions Developing content TRIN listservers Hardly used

27 Progress so far What else do you want? Social networking applications? Internet chat? Blogs? Special communications tools? Special data repositories? Access to special data? Special data management applications? Special data discovery applications? Special visualization tools? Talk to the HubRIS team Capacity is limited Suitable applications may already exist Almost suitable applications may be modified


29 Possibilities and dead ends Range of Web 2.0 social networking products Interactive web sites Wikis Blogs? Others? Blogosphere worth evaluating? Flickr, YouTube Myspace FaceBook Twitter LinkedIn Blogspot, Wordpress, etc.

30 Possibilities and dead ends Blogosphere use case Tim Entwisle, Director RBG Sydney Twitter When he sees something botanically interesting One sentence FaceBook An elaborating paragraph, maybe an image Blogspsot (TalkingPlants) More polished, 2-3 paragraphs, one or more images RBG website Refined corporate version from above Radio spot, presentations and press releases Material extracted from above

31 Possibilities and dead ends Blogosphere use case LinkeIn – FaceBook for professionals Previously domain of self-promoting managers, contractors Increasing number of biologists, conservationists and biodiversity informaticians Self maintaining contact list Ego drives people to maintain their own profiles and contacts Links to websites, blogs, etc. Friend of a Friend principle c. 50 primary contacts reveals c. 1000 secondary contacts Good search facilities Name, profession, discipline, region, country, city Subscribable subject groups


33 Will it all work? The BIG question Depends on engagement: Researcher engagement Management engagement User engagement Political engagement Depends on content Coverage taxonomic; geographic; temporal Depth detail, media Relevance target audience

34 Will it all work? Depends on technology Effective Accessible Universal Robust, reliable Affordable Appropriate, understandable Openness (can it be modified, enhanced) Compatible Standards


36 During this forum Focus on making it all work End products are interesting but not informative New taxa, new phylogenies, new classifications New databases, new applications New interactive keys, new fact sheets We can brag about these elsewhere Focus on how we do what we do Strategies for improving throughput, productivity Identifying bottlenecks amenable to technological solutions Inventions to make life easier

37 During this forum What are the impediments to using this technology? Innate conservatism of the discipline? Aged taxonomists, old dogs new tricks? Impatient taxonomists? Too complicated? Ineffective? Makes the process longer? Creates more problems than it solves? Are the impediments real or imagined? What can we do to remove or reduce the impediments?

38 During this forum Focus on the process of taxonomy What do we want to do? Do we need to do it? If the answer is yes How can we do it better? How can we do it more efficiently? How can we do it cheaper? How can we do it faster? How can we reach more and wider audiences? Engage, interact, hijack the discussion HubRIS and TRIN are works in progress

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