ABSTRACT: The advances in information handling that are made possible by digitization force us to consider whether the existing procedures for updating and using the standard Geological Time Scale, based on printed books, may be obsolete. Not only does print publishing require expensive investment, but the publication process imposes limits on participation and distribution, as well as setting a deadline on improvement. In addition, digitization means that the way we use the information is no longer limited to what can be done with glyphs on paper. In this report we consider some aspects of the inevitable migration of the Geological Time Scale (GTS) into digitized formats. On one hand we envisage the organization and design of a dynamically interactive, community-based consensus GTS on the internet, in open public access for worldwide use. On the other hand, the complete dataset from the last published time scale, the “GTS2004” (Gradstein, Ogg and Smith 2004a) is already available in digital form, and has been used to generate custom visualizations in TimeScale Creator, a machine resident application. The migration of the GTS2004 dataset to the internet, as the basis for a community consensus GTS, would greatly facilitate the improvement of the dataset through user interaction. It would also transform the Geological Time Scale from a shelf reference, or a computer program, to an integrated worldwide resource in geoscience research, education, and public programming.
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