Building a High-Resolution, Specimen-Based Picture of Life: Possibilities and Challenges
Murrell, Zack .
Communities and information flow: An example from a regional network of herbaria.
Information moves across the human landscape in a variety of fashions. We can trace oral and written traditions for millennia, and we acknowledge a significant shift with production of mass writing tools or printing presses, which allowed humans to store and disseminate information across the human landscape in both space (first regionally and then globally) and time (across generations). Electronic communication and storage now allows us to move information at breathtaking speeds across space and time, opening up new opportunities to aggregate and parse large parcels of information. These opportunities impose a challenge to the scientific community. How do we engage large communities, connected via electronic media, to develop science at new scales that utilize these innovations? Over the past six years we have worked to mobilize a community of herbarium curators, along with affiliated scientists and teachers, to engage in a regional goal of making the data from herbarium specimens available for aggregation. The group, SERNEC (SouthEast Regional Network of Expertise and Collections), is derived from 233 herbaria distributed in 14 states in the Southeast USA. The curatorial staffs and associated herbarium users come from many career paths, such as systematists, ecologists, land managers, conservation biologists, and educators. This diverse population has agreed to a common goal of making biodiversity information available to various public groups, such as decision-makers, students, teachers, corporations and researchers. Initially formed as a NSF-funded Research Coordination Network, SERNEC has partnered with several existing and/or defunded efforts (e.g., US Virtual Herbarium, Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, National Biological Information Infrastructure) to help reach our goals. We have focused on moving information across this relatively small human landscape in a way that maximizes information flow, while at the same time recognizes impediments to that information flow. Included in this effort is recognition of the need for positive reinforcement, to encourage best practices under conditionsof limited resources. Ultimately, we have worked to provide a reward system of making the group's aggregated data available for their own manipulation and also to change the perceptions of the community's efforts by those people that evaluate their productivity. This effort to mobilize a community, change their culture of behavior and provide them with an effective rewards system, when viewed in the context of moving information across the human landscape, can provide a model of how this can be accomplished at a variety of scales.
Log in to add this item to your schedule
SERNEC (SouthEast Regional Network of Expertise and Collections)
1 - APPALACHIAN ST UNI, Department Of Biology, 572 RIVERS ST. RANKIN SCI BLDG, BOONE, NC, 28608, USA
Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Location: Franklin A/Hyatt
Date: Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
Time: 3:30 PM