The Evolution of Darwin Core Hour

From the Darwin Core Hour Team.


Hi everyone! In this blog post we present a summary of what the Darwin Core Hour is, where the initiative came from, how it works, and how you can get involved.


Why is there a need for a Darwin Core Hour? Where did the idea come from?


Have you ever thought...

“How is this Darwin Core term supposed to fit given the data I have? Or how do I fit the data to it?”


Have you ever thought...

“I have questions about the Darwin Core standard and/or its use, but I can’t find the answers in the documentation?”


Have you ever wondered who to ask…?


Well, if you have answered “yes” to any of those questions, welcome to the club!


Often we are working in our own collections or with our own data sets and we may or may not realize that many people in our worldwide community run into these same kinds of questions, repeatedly. Those of us on the Darwin Core Hour Team realize this is happening all the time. A lot of interesting issues arise when trying to share data, when the data leave our collections and travel the world through the magic of data aggregation. Acknowledging that, we figured it would be very useful to create a place where we could all gather to try and find the answers to our questions and help others find answers as well.


After some time considering all the issues involved, we came up with an idea: to establish a webinar series to address Darwin Core topics and set up a stable cohesive path through which questions could be asked and answers could be given and documented for everyone to consult - in some perpetuity.


Background Concept


The Biodiversity Information Standards (aka, Taxonomic Databases Working Group, or TDWG) organization develops and supports the data standards used to share much of the world’s natural history collections and biodiversity data. Many museum collection managers, data managers, technical assistants, and museum staff use the Darwin Core (DwC) standard everyday in their efforts to share their collections data. Many of these individuals belong to the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC), but not necessarily TDWG. The DwC Hour Team wished to connect the collections and biodiversity standard communities. We needed a standardized way to directly connect the SPNHC community (implementers of biodiversity data standards) with the TDWG standards developers. Rather than the one-off email to one person, or the same question asked on a listserve that results in many different answers that are difficult to find over time, we looked for a way to create a viable, evolving resource, available to everyone.


What are the goals of the Darwin Core Hour?


The Darwin Core Hour series is a set of periodic talks (which we call “webinars”) that address topics related to the Darwin Core standard and its use. Topics for talks come from everyone.

The webinars have one big goal: to bring us, the collections and standards communities, together in a coordinated way, to understand the standard better, to help us improve how we use it and to discuss potential improvements. In this sense, Darwin Core Hour is intended to bring to the community answers to questions such as, “How do we use the dwc:basisOfRecord term?”, “Why should we use this term?”, “What happens if we don’t?”, etc.

That’s why all webinars have two main parts: the first one in which a particular topic is addressed by a speaker and the second one reserved for community discussion. The discussion part is essential. Some of us might have expertise in different fields, areas, disciplines, or particular topics. But none of us knows everything, and we all need some knowledge and help from others, and we can all sometimes change our minds too.

Note we don’t have all the answers. Instead, we collaboratively discover the need for changes to the standards and our own community practices by each sharing our personal experiences, insights, and examples.

How do new topics get submitted for webinars?

If you have topics to discuss in a live open forum, please submit them via the Darwin Core Hour Input Form and attend webinars in the Darwin Core Hour series. If you would like to be notified of conversations on the Darwin Core Questions & Answers site, join GitHub if you have not already done so, then click on the "Watch" selection box at the top right of that page. If you would like to participate in technical discussions of biodiversity standards in general, please subscribe to the tdwg-content discussion list hosted by Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG).


Darwin Core Hour and Darwin Core Questions and Answers Site.


We might have questions about the Darwin Core standard and its use at any time - in our daily work or even during the Darwin Core Hour itself.

The Darwin Core Questions & Answers site is the destination for all questions submitted via the Darwin Core Hour Input Form, where answers are permanently captured, and where documentation is built and made available for consultation (Questions & Answers pages in the wiki for that repository).

This repository is intended to be part of a public forum to capture questions and provide answers and examples for topics related to the use of the Darwin Core standard.

So… how are the Darwin Core Hour and the Darwin Core Questions & Answers Site related?

Well, as you can see in the graph below, they feed each other: questions submitted to this site give birth to topics for webinar talks, and more questions from those webinar talks are submitted to this site. And, out of both, answers get to the community and documentation is continuously built.

DwCQ&ASite - DwCHour - Schema.jpg

The Darwin Core Hour Model. The model relates the Darwin Core Hour webinar series and the Darwin Core Questions & Answers site, providing a means for topics to be discussed within the community, for questions to be asked and answered and for documentation to be produced.


If you want to know how this initiative is progressing and which questions have been answered to date, you may peek at the Darwin Core Questions & Answers site, check for answers and for the documentation that has been already produced! Also, you can watch the short video we have produced that shows how to navigate the site.


How can you contribute to this effort?


We look forward to your contributions to this endeavor. This list highlights several ways in which you can get involved.

  • Submit any Darwin Core question or observation to the Darwin Core Hour Input Form. This may include any topic of interest related to Darwin Core in which you have expertise and could provide meaningful input in future webinars - maybe even propose a webinar yourself? Or in coordination with others?

  • Join our Darwin Core Hour Team and

    • Moderate a Webinar

    • Help build the DwC Hour GitHub Site

    • Suggest new webinars

    • Offer to do a webinar or webinar series

    • Participate in post-webinar debriefing meetings to envision next steps

To express your interest in joining the team you may send a message through the Input Form, interact with us through the GitHub repository, or just raise your hand during any of the webinars and we will happily include you in the loop!

  • Share our efforts on your community or institution listservs

  • Let us know what you’d like to see added to our DwC Hour Model and help us envision your ideas


If you have not participated yet, we welcome you on board!


Who are we? Contributors to this blog post include:

Paula Zermoglio, Deborah Paul, Erica Krimmel, Gary Motz, John Wieczorek - all members of the Darwin Core Hour Team. We are a blended family with members from TDWG, SPNHC, ADBC, VertNet, and iDigBio that are merging our collective ideas for building this community resource.