News and Views

From my kids accomplishments, to my heretical perspective of the world

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December 5th, 2014 · 2 Comments

It’s pronounced “I Dig Bio”, and that’s what I’ve been working on for the past three days. I’ve been in Gainesville at the University of Florida which is sponsoring a “Hackathon” for iDigBio.

iDigBio is a collaboration (funded by the National Science Foundation) between universities and museums all over the world with a focus on digitizing natural science collections, hence the name “Integrated Digitized Biocollections”. This particular hackathon had about 25 attendees mostly from the US, but Australia and Scotland were also represented. We met to discuss and develop programs and processes to help simplify and automate the digitization process.

Filed away in basements and cabinets all over the world are hundreds of millions or billions of plant, animal, insect, mineral and other specimens collected over the past few centuries. Up to now, these specimens were only available to a few researchers and even then one had to either travel to the specimen or ship the specimen to the researcher. This current effort is to upload to the internet pictures and details about each of the specimens to make them available not only to researchers but also to the general public. It is a big effort and without some automation almost impossible. Another approach to the problem is “crowd sourcing” — using volunteer “citizen scientists” to help, and that was also a major topic of this meeting. An example of a crowd sourced project is “Notes From Nature” where volunteers have just passed one million transcriptions.

My involvement and invitation came about because of programs I developed at Arizona State University to help automate the digitization of their plant specimens. Nearly one hundred thousand records passed through my program, SALIX, and I am now working on a web version of this program that can (hopefully!) be used by institutions all over the country and world.

It’s been an interesting and fun three days working with experts in the field. I’ve learned a lot and, I hope, contributed to the effort. There’s still a lot to do!

Tomorrow Gisele and I leave Gainesville and drive to Orlando where we’ll spend a few days at Walt Disney World.

Tags: Computers, Tech & Science · Family Updates

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Donna // Dec 6, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Sounds like you are in your element and having a great time. Say hi to Mickey!

  • 2 Dale // Dec 7, 2014 at 5:45 am

    The trick to retirement is to work on something that is fun. Looks like you have that figured out.

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