Wednesday, January 11, 2006

iSpecies and Google games

This morning I read about a neat tool, in a BioIT world update, called iSpecies and couldn't resist giving it a try.

The idea of iSpecies, and the possibility of gathering all kinds of information together on a single page for any species, is really appealing and I'm looking forward to further development. You can read the story behind it at the iSpecies blog.

When iSpecies is a bit further along, I think it will be great. Right now, though, iSpecies is more like a new kind of Google game - except maybe funnier.

Here are the results from two searches that I did.

First I searched with Finch and got these results:

Yikes! Imagine if Darwin had seen those guys flying around the Galapagos islands. No one would confuse those finches with magpies. I'm not sure how the articles relate to finches either. Maybe I'm just not ready for the semantic web.

This worked a little better when I searched with Penguin. I'm not sure how the documents relate to penguins but this time the search found a couple of real penguin images and some drawings of Tux. Surely, the Linux guys will be pleased about that. That penguin with teeth is a bit much, though. I'm going to have scary dreams about that one.

Maybe next time I'll try the latin names.

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Blogger Rod Page said...

iSpecies is intended to search on scientific names (although I didn't make this clear). Terms like "finch" are ambiguous, for example, uBio lists 510 vernacular names that include "finch".

If you search on, say Taeniopygia guttata (= zebra finch) you'll get something slightly more expected. That said, some scientific names will generate, er, interesting results (e.g., the genus Homo).

11:00 AM  
Blogger Sandra Porter said...

Thanks Rod! I thought it might be something like that. PubMed used to behave the same way with medical terms.

Now I'll have to look up something like Geospiza scandens and see what happens.

11:11 AM  

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