Friday, September 26, 2008

Half-baked ideas. I. Wiki for taxonomy

Next few weeks will be busy with term starting, kids visiting, and other commitments, so time to jot down some ideas. The first is to have a Wiki for taxonomic names. Bit like Wikispecies, but actually useful, by which I mean useful for working biologists. This would mean links to digital literature (DOIs, Handles, etc.), use of identifiers for names and taxa (such as NCBI taxids, LSIDs, etc.), and having it pre-populated with data. Imagine merging the NCBI taxonomy, Catalogue of Life, Index Fungorum, and IPNI, say, and having it automatically updated with sources such as WoRMS and uBio RSS. Why a Wiki? Well, partly to capture all the little textual annotations that are needed to flesh out the taxonomy, and partly to make it easy to correct the numerous mistakes that litter existing databases.

As an initial target, I'd aim for a comprehensively annotated NCBI taxonomy, as this is probably the most important taxonomic database that we have.


John S. Wilkins said...

Something like this is in process at the International Institute for Species Exploration at U of Arizona.

Roderic Page said...

If so they are being very coy about it.