Email from John Pickering to Jorge Soberon, 12 August, 2005

Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 13:51:05 -0400
From: John Pickering
Subject: Response to Jorge Soberon's North-South concerns


Thanks. No worries. You're letter served a very useful purpose. We must
address the astounding depth of mistrust that much of rest of the world now
has for "gifts" from the North. Please help me make sure that our
Prospectus includes safeguards to meet the needs of all citizens, rich and
poor, throughout the world.

Discover Life's mission is to HELP collect, integrate, and share
information freely throughout the world; not enrich databases in the United
States, nor trample over the efforts of others such as Conabio. Again, I
apologize for any insensitivity on my part. As my friends well know, I
have a kind heart but am clearly not a diplomat.

On my trip back from Asia I read "Globalization and its discontents" by
Joseph Stiglitz. Great book. One that you should read if you haven't
already. It documents how the International Monetary Fund, Wall Street,
and the U.S. government have done what's best for the rich and powerful
rather than the citizens of developing nations that they claim to be
helping with their aid and policies. No wonder you're suspicious.

On the technical side, see if you can use our new search box somewhere in
Conabio, Remib, or elsewhere. It's URL is
It returns dynamic pages on over 200,000 species, combining info from
Tropicos, STRI, and our other partners. The URL's source code explains how
you can customize two variables, btxt and burl, so that you can set up its
navigation bar to return users back to your site.

You can also link to individual taxa with the following:
which returns info on Red Maple and a link on the bottom navigation bar
back to Conabio's homepage. To get a list of the genus Quercus (at least
the ones Discover Life knows about), use

The only drawback to these tools is that most of the servers doing the work
are located in the U.S. The Prospectus that we're writing proposes to
rectify this by mirroring all data to the servers at each regional center.
Thus, we plan to serve all data contributed to Discover Life from servers
in multiple countries so that no country ever has the power to switch off
information to another.

Eventually I hope that you'll be comfortable enough with what Discover Life
is doing to contribute more Mexican information to the index and databases
behind our search tools. However, this is not a condition for use. You
may use our Web services without contributing data.

As soon as I have a draft of our Prospectus ready, I'll send you it's URL
and will value your further input.

Thanks again.


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