December 28, 2009
This NamesforLife Firefox Add-on brings expertise from the database into the browser.
At present, the list of validly published names of Bacteria and Archaea changes roughly fifteen times each week. Invalid and trivial names appear in the literature and public databases at a rate that if more than three fold higher. While a small number of experts diligently work to keep pace with these changes the rest of the scientific, medical, and allied communities are left on their own to make sense of a never-ending onslaught of names. While all agree that using the correct name is essential for accurate communication, but what name is it? What was it? If a name changed, why did it change? What does this mean to you as you read the literature? Do you interrupt your reading to check on the taxonomic state of play. Do you break what you are doing and look up related information or do it later? Are you sure that your knowledge is current? Keeping up with this could be a full-time job.
There is a solution to this problem. NamesforLife, in partnership with the SGM and the International Committee on the Systematics of Prokaryotes, has been working to extract all of the relevant information from the taxonomic literature for Bacteria and Archaea. This information is then served up, along with rich annotation, for any text that is readable in a web browser (starting with Firefox, but expanding to other browsers in the near future), on-demand. Never again will a reader have to feel ill-informed about the status or meaning of a name.
The NamesforLife philosophy is that online annotation services must be sufficiently authoritative and persistent that other systems can rely on them rather than attempting to duplicate them. Those services must work not only for the ad hoc human user, who after all has fail-safe alternatives, but also when incorporated in third-party applications. NamesforLife identifies these objects using now familiar digital object identifiers (DOIs) and makes them reliably citeable. The objects then become formally structured micropublications. How is it done? NamesforLife employs a team of expert curators to index the taxonomic literature as a sequence of interrelated taxonomic, nomenclatural and organismal events that are tied to all previously recorded events and the underlying literature.
[permalink] Posted December 28, 2009.