Where Taxonomy Work is At

A nice post from Virginia Henry summarising a talk given by Fran Alexander on the current state of taxonomy work a few days ago. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, just a nice overview; and it’s reassuring to see that sensible balanced views do seem to be permeating the fog of hype that people sometimes use for – often against – taxonomies. Fran has since posted her own notes from the talk – I particularly like her analogy with a taxonomy system being like a coral reef:

“You can think of your taxonomy as the centre of a coral reef, but coral is alive and grows following the currents and the behaviour of all the crazy fish and other organisms that dart about around it. It’s hard to pin down the crazy fish and other creatures, but they feed the central coral and keep it strong. In practice, this means incorporating multiple taxonomies and folksonomies and mapping them to one another, so that everyone can use the taxonomy and the terminology that they prefer. Taxonomy mapping tools require human training and human supervision, but they can lighten the load of the labour intensive process of mapping one taxonomy to another.”

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