I had a fortunate excuse to head to Darwin this week – my fiancée was at a medical conference. So we both got to go to experience a bit of the top end.
The highlight for me was my visit to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT). In fact, I went twice! The first time I went to meet up with the gang that manages the collections there (thanks Christine, Suzanne and Gavin!) to discuss a range of things about bioinformatics and collections databases. After the meeting, I got a “behind the scenes” tour of the collection, which is always a favourite past-time.* I went back a couple of days later with Jeanie and some of our medical friends to see the “front of house” collection (and to eat at the café again!). It’s a really great museum with some really well thought out and interesting exhibits, so if you’re in town, go!
While I was in Darwin, this happened: NT cut off by 10 hour meltdown (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25303220-5006790,00.html) which seems to have been quite under-reported nationally. It happened on the same day the federal government announced a major upgrade to the broadband network in Australia (http://www.news.com.au/technology/story/0,28348,25301686-5014239,00.html). I’m sure there are a few people out there thinking this isn’t a co-incidence… in any case, it was mixed blessings. It made me feel not so bad about disappearing out to the Territory Wildlife Park (and if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have seen a Black Kite on the way back). But it did remind me just how fragile much of the infrastructure is in Australia.
The fragility of the telecommunications infrastructure also resonated with the flurry of posts on the TDWG-TAG list about LSIDs. There’s a lot of concern about LSIDs – will they be permanent identifiers? I think that’s a moot point to worry about. Nothing we do will be “permanent”. At some point, we’ll need to migrate to a different system from the one we implement now. How many times have we changed our operating systems?
To my mind, implementing LSIDs should be a priority for the community, not revisiting technologies to look for a better way. At the moment we have bioinformatics records out there that are not uniquely tagged, and are starting to be replicated across different portals and systems. We need to commit to making LSIDs happen, and get them out there. The time to discuss if it’s not quite the right technology was a while ago.**
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* I never wrote a blog post to thank Margaret and Robert from the ANWC for my recent tour around the back of their collection – now there are some absolutely amazing specimens in there. Hope you enjoyed the Tim Tams!
** A sentiment echoed by Lee Belbin on his very exhaustive post on TDWG-TAG just after I posted this blog entry. See here.