Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Thoughts on the future of antbase

Whilst doing some research for an "open access" newspaper article, I found this interesting piece on Web2.0 by Tim O'Reilly.

One interesting aspect is clearly how to harvest the wisdom of all the users of antbase so we can let antbase grow and improve: what is needed that users contribute?

1 comment:

Christian said...

Hi Donat, I discovered yours and also rods blog (semant) a few weeks ago and I'm glad that antbase heads in the direction of web 2.0. concerning ants, I'm probably exactly one of those persons who could provide data, without having a platform (let's not talk about free time...) to do so. By the way: It's also kind of funny that it was in Glasgow, during my stay in the lab of Rod in 2001 that I got initially in touch with you.

I have two comments, the first concerning the article about web2.0 that you cited. I'm absolutely in favor of web2.0, notably open source projects. However, I don't agree that this can be the new "business model" as o'reilly writes in the head of his article. If you provide things for free for which once you had to pay money (see microsoft vs. linux), whole businesses would break down. Anyway: who cares if you get it free afterwards. But it explains the resistence against the lifting of copyrights. Capitalism needs property and restricted access to function.

Then, my answer to your question on what is needed that users contribute to antbase: First, I think there has to be a not too difficult way to put the data into antbase. Second, if I give my data for free I want to be sure that no one makes any profit with it (in terms of money) - sure, with data about ants this problem should not appear anyway... And third, the data provider should get some credit, that is his name should appear somewhere. It might even give some additional motivation if there is a "personal corner" for each contributor. I think one main question to think about is: how do you validate the provided data? Let's say, I contribute with the distributional data of ants on crete, that I collected. Even if I tried to identify them up to the species level, I'm sure that there is more uncertainty in the identification, compared with, let's say, data of Bolton or some expert of a taxonomic group. However, one might say that this even doesn't pose any problems as if you identify the person who identified the ant, the person who uses the data can decide for herself the validity.

So that's just a few ideas that came into my mind, I'm curious to see how antbase develops during the next years.