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2014 UC Boulder Meaning of Names Conference in Review


A relatively short review of the timely conference “The Meaning of Names: Naming Diversity in the 21st Century”, held on September 30 to October 2nd, 2014, and organized by Rob Guralnick and the University of Colorado at Boulder Museum of Natural History.

I have uploaded the Conference Program for reference. I gave an update on Euler/X, the slides are shared again here. Some photos of the conference participants are posted on Flickr.

Having had an opportunity to present for 30 minutes allowed me to review some general ideas about names and concepts and apparently (given positive reactions) made the presentation more accessible. A number of engaging and thematically diverse presentations were in the line-up, although the diversity of domains of application did not necessarily mean immediate directional friction. Names – the “right ones” – remain essential to information transmission that employs human cognition and memorization. Among other fleeting observations, it seemed clear to me that the standard OBO Foundry approach to fixating the meaning of terms is not all that biodiversity informatics needs to integrate taxonomically annotated data. I also think we are at the cusp of separating more clearly and consistently what conventional taxonomic names can achieve for human communication, and what they need to achieve in addition to support scalable computational integration. Two Global Names Architecture presentations (Ellinor Michel and David Patterson, respectively) pointed that way. To what extent the “additional layer” for logic integration is needed, and justified by apparent representational and infrastructural costs, was an underlying theme of the conference. In other words – progress.

Franz. 2014. Explaining taxonomy’s legacy to computers – how and why? from taxonbytes
One Comment Post a comment
  1. Ellinor Michel #

    Thanks for the nice review! I’ve put my slides up on SlideShare too:

    The meeting was unusually broadly themed, with participants from all kinds of disciplines discussing the importance and foibles of naming. The interactiveness and intellectual commitment of the participants made the discussions extremely stimulating, with many unexpected perspectives. Lots of great ideas.
    Scott Peckham (in the picture above, along with me and Sarah Spaulding) was particularly great to talk to throughout the conference.
    If there is any question, Boulder is a GREAT place for a conference, with a top-notch university, a vibrant town and stunning landscapes.
    Many thanks to the organisers – Rob Guralnick, Pat Kociolek and Joe Romig.

    October 27, 2014

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