[uf-discuss] species microformats & OpenSearch

Shorthouse, David dps1 at ualberta.ca
Wed Dec 6 08:18:15 PST 2006

The above seems to me very unlikely  
to be adopted by HTML publishers.  That LSID URN refers to an RDF  
resource, and RDF is not intended to be consumed by humans.   
Microformats are for humans first.  Also, the RDF resource lists the  
canonical name as "Theridion agrifoliae," so that alone should be  
canonically descriptive, right?  What exactly is the benefit of  
repeating this information in the class when it's already in the  

[David Shorthouse wrote:] 
No! The spider species Theridion agrifoliae is not a particularly good
example because it only has had one published name attributed to it. What we
need is a species concept and not a canonical species name. Species names
are merely hypotheses in the taxonomic world & consequently, may change at
some point in the future when new taxonomic evidence comes into play. The
advantage of the LSIDs is that they may act as a mapping catalog that is
capable of drawing the lines from old names (or even current names that have
not been fully accepted) to current nomenclature. Merely using "Theridion
agrifoliae" I would argue is not even enough for humans. We need species
concepts and not just human readable mark-up. Isn't the whole point of
microformats to permit scraping by machines for use as browser plug-ins and
the like?


> I simply cannot comprehend how something like:
> <h1><span class="species">Theridion agrifoliae</span> Levi, 1957</h1>
> .could ever contribute to the semantic web in a meaningful way &  
> will stand
> the test of taxonomic revisions (i.e how do the current species  
> microformats
> deal with synonyms, homonyms, and other recognized nomenclature?).

Synonyms and other nomenclature are covered by <abbr>, e.g.:

Along came a <abbr title="Theridion agrifoliae"  
class="species">spider</abbr> and sat down beside her.

This keeps the more precise version accessible to human readers  
(unlike class names), without requiring them to read it.

Homonyms should be irrelevant to markup, as parsers read only HTML  
text, not audio.

[David Shorthouse wrote:] 
This means there is far too much responsibility given to the individual or
groups who write the page when there are well-organized & well-paid
authorities that are attempting to get a handle on all names. I would argue
that nomenclatural juggling, mapping, and the like be handled by
Species2000, uBio, and potentially others through programmatic means. It
would be far more worthwhile for me as a provider of "species pages" to link
my work to these sorts of organizations than to blindly hope that the
individual who visits a page 5-10 years down the road will be intelligent
enough to recognize that the species may have undergone taxonomic revision
in that time & may at that time be called something else.
David P. Shorthouse
Department of Biological Sciences
CW-403, Biological Sciences Centre
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB   T6G 2E9
Phone: 1-780-492-3080
mailto:dps1 at ualberta.ca

Regarding OpenSearch, anyone can return microformat results in  
OpenSearch format, but I don't know of anyone doing so yet.   
Technorati and Alexa are both running early microformat aggregators,  
but the species microformat is just getting started so there's not  
much to aggregate yet.

[David Shorthouse wrote:] 
OK. That at least gives me an indication of where things stand at the

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