A comment by William Cannon about
Here's some thoughts on some of the questions posed in Johnathon's memo #1. Can we really develop common science language standards on a continent-wide basis? There is no technical reason why we cannot. It is just a question of our will and willingness to compromise for the benefit of sharing a common language. I would imagine that most of us have been involved in making something like statewide or regionwide compilations. To do so requires the standardization of a myriad of terminology from many diverse scales and levels of detail, from many authors and organizations and across several generations of geologic thought. Making such a compilation from local to regional scale probably covers 75% of the spectrum of standardization needed to achieve nation-wide or continent-wide standardization, so a big part of the job has been done many times over, more or less successfully. We apparently are not concerned about standardized stratigraphic terminology, mostly because some wise people a long time ago decided that stratigrphic terminology would be standardized and that decision has been enforced ever since. Standardized stratigraphic terminology has simpy become a ppart of our culture and we accept it even though it at times requires us to make some compromises in out preferred usage. Standardization of other terminolgy could follow the same course if done well at the outset and consistently applied. Can we do this at a level deeper than "granite vs. basalt"...? We undoubtedly can, but we need to make judgements every step of the way of the benefits of standardization vs. the detriment of loss of information important at local or regional scales. Most terminology we will consider will be in some sort of hierarchical arrangement and standardization will become both more difficult and less desirable as we proceed to lower levels in the hierarchy. I personally think we should push the limits as far down in the hierarchy as we can without violent disagreement among the committee members and users. I don't think there is any harm in having at least suggested standard terminolgy in detail. One of the beauties of digital maps is that additional attributes can be added at essentially no cost and little additional effort. So individual mappers should always have the ability to include non-standard terminology that is useful for specific audiences or regions in addition to standard terminology. Should there be one single terminology standard or multiple standards linked by translators and equivalency tables. I strongly prefer a single standard. I think users of geolgoic maps have the right to expect one relative standard terminolgy rather than multiple sets of terms for the same thing. Translators might work but would be an admission of defeat by the committee. To what audiences will the data model speak? The data model needs to be technical. I think anyting intended for non-technical audiences should be viewed as a derivative product that can be customized for specific needs. Questions of feature-level accuracy, confidence, origination. This is a very tough issue but I think it is more an issue of a data model rather then technical language. It seems to me that developing terminology would be relatively straight forward once decisions were made as to what type of information will be required in the data model.
Further discussion of Some thoughts on issues in working memo#1 (this page):
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