Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Dust off your fossil types..... the JISC funded GB/3D type fossils online project would like to visit you

The following call has gone out by the Geological Curators' Group to all curators and managers of geological collections across the UK:

The Geological Curators’ Group is a partner in the JISC funded project GB/3D type fossils online (JISC was previously known as the Joint Information Systems Committee, and it runs the JANET computer network to which all .ac.uk domains belong).

Other partners include:
·         British Geological Survey
·         National Museum, Cardiff
·         Oxford University Museum of Natural History
·         Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge
Other collaborating organisations to date include the Natural History Museum, London and a number of local museums.
The ICZN and the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants require that every species or subspecies of organism (living & fossil), should have a type or reference specimen to define its characteristic features. These specimens are held in collections around the world and must be available for study. Many of the UK type fossil specimens were first described over a century ago, and with the passage of time and the transfer and amalgamation of collections, their present location is uncertain.                                                                                                                                                                          
The project partners are busy photographing all their UK macro-fossil type specimens, including close-ups and labels. In most cases they are also taking stereo-pairs for anaglyph production. They are laser scanning about 10% of the specimens to produce downloadable digital models. Please see the project blog for the background to the project and for some free downloadable digital models - http://gb3dtypefossils.blogspot.co.uk/ . Next year a web portal will be released, linking all the fossil registration details (including identification, locality, age, registration number, repository, etc.) to the images, stereo-anaglyphs and 3D digital models.

The Geological Curators’ Group is now trying to track down the UK type macro-fossils held in other collections and museums around the country. We would like to visit as many collections as possible with our mobile cameras and laser scanner to photograph and record all the available types, and make them available through the web portal. All the material will be clearly badged with the holding institution’s logo, which will link to contact details and access information, thereby helping to open up the collection for worldwide study. At a time when collections are being increasingly required to justify their existence, this is a good way of raising their profile and demonstrating the international scientific importance of material they hold. All collections will be provided with copies of the photographs and digital models of their material to do with as they wish; the images and models on the web portal will be available for free download under a Creative Commons  – Attribution – NonCommercial – ShareAlike licence.

We would like to hear from any museums and collections interested in joining the project. We also have a budget available to help cover the cost of the collection staff involved (£200 per day, on a first-come first-served basis). Please email me (GB3D-Fossils@bgs.ac.uk ) with information about the types you hold, including the approximate number of specimens, or if you wish to receive further information. Where a collection has just a few types, and they are considered safe to travel, we would ask you to consider loaning the material to BGS for the work to be done in Keyworth.

Please consider joining what is becoming a very exciting development.

Kind regards,

Mike Howe
Project leader & Chairman GCG.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mike,

    Why did you choose the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike licence? This is one of the most restrictive licence choices available! It will *prevent* many people from using this wonderful data.

    Do you realise that this is a viral copyleft licence? Do you realise this will prevent people from sharing these on their blogs if they are Ad-supported (the NonCommercial clause leaves people open to legal action as "commercial" is very poorly defined in most jurisdictions). These are just many of the (perhaps) unintended restrictions that this imposes.

    I believe you should perhaps choose either CC0 waiver or the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) as these will enable maximum return on investment for this excellent digitisation effort.

    Given the project is in an early stage, can I plead with you to reconsider your licence choice here. I am currently in Helsinki at the Open Knowledge Festival, and will talk to Puneet Kishor (project coordinator for Science & Data at Creative Commons; http://creativecommons.org/staff#puneetkishor) about this. Only yesterday I lamenting to him about licencing issues in academia. We have much work to do, but your project could be one of the shining examples if you get this right.

    Please do feel free to discuss this more.

    Many thanks,