Preparation for SAFRINET IDnature guide workshop

Background & First Steps to Building Guides

From Sat Oct 19 14:58 EDT 2002
Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2002 15:00:23 -0400
From: John Pickering <>
Subject: Preparation for SAFRINET IDnature guide workshop


Greetings.  I'm sending this so that you can prepare for our IDnature guide
workshop in Pretoria, 4-8 November.  By the end of the workshop, my goals
are that (1) each of you will have built a guide that enables Web users to
identify at least 20 of your favorite organisms, and (2) you'll be trained
to add additional species, characters, illustrations, images, and links to
your guides with minimal technical support from my lab in Georgia.

Please see The Polistes Foundation's draft plan,

for the big-picture overview of what we hope to accomplish with BioNet
International and our other partners in 10 years.  The plan is ambitious.
It proposes to establish 100 regional identification nodes around the world
and build Web guides for a million species.   You will be the second node
-- a testbed, and I hope showcase, of how to transfer the technology that
we've developed and tested in Georgia to the rest of the world.  I hope
that you feel honoured at this challenge, and not horrified!!!

I'm under no illusion that what we are attempting will be easy and go
without hitches.  It will be difficult and probably require us to solve
some yet unforseen technical hurdles.  However, I am sure that if we work
together, and keep our sense of humour, we can accomplish our goals.  In
preparation for the course (1) my lab is writing reference material to
explain the details of what they do to build guides, (2) I'm improving the
software so that you'll be able to maintain your guides, images, and
associated Web pages on local servers, and (3) Ria Colesky and your
technical support folks are setting up PC's and a local Web server for our
use.  If all goes well, you'll be able to focus on adding biology to guides
and be isolated from technical difficulties.

In preparation for the workshop, I hope that you will (1) make an authority
list of the organisms you want to identify, (2) list characters and
character-states that help identify these organisms from each other, and
(3) gather images and illustrations that we can include and link to the
guides.  The following gives you some details of each of these:

(1) AUTHORITY LIST:  Email me <> a list of all the
species that you eventually want to put in the guide (cc yourself on this
list and bring a printed copy to the workshop).  Don't worry if this list
isn't complete, but 20 species minimum, please.  While you can add species
one at a time later, we've found that it's most efficient to start with as
complete an authority list as possible.  The format of this list should be
"Genus species,Authority date,Family,Common name if available; other common
names;..." where  is the field separator,  separates
multiple common names, and lines separate species.

(2) CHARACTER-STATE LIST: Email me a list of as many characters and states
that you know you want to use (also cc yourself and bring a hard copy).
This list is likely to be incomplete, but it's more efficient to start with
as many character-states as you can.
 separators again.  It's best to have around 5 states per character,
but you can have as few as two and as many as you want.  For example,
Flower color,blue,pink,red,yellow,white
Wing number,0,2,4
Try not to use technical terms and put the most significant term of the
character first, so that the characters index alphabetically.  For example,
use "Petal number" not "Number of petals."  Please do this in English.  We
can translate your guides to other languages later.

(3) PHOTOGRAPHS AND ILLUSRATIONS:  Assemble as many as you can.  We will
eventually want these at the highest resolution in jpg, gif, or png format
possible.  What you can't process locally, I'll have my lab process for you
on my return.  We have both a 35mm slide and a flatbed scanner.

Time table -- If you email me the AUTHORITY and CHARACTER-STATE lists by
the 28 October, my lab should be able to put them into the format that you
will use during the course.  If you wait until the workshop begins, no
worries.  We can struggle through together!!!

While we will build IDnature guides for the Web, I hope that we will
eventually put your guides on either ETI and/or Lucid's CD's.

Finally, thank you so very much for agreeing to participate in our first
training course.  I very much look forward to working with you all.


John Pickering                            Office: 706-542-1115
711 Biological Sciences Building             FAX: 706-542-3344
University of Georgia                      Lab.:  706-542-1388
Athens, GA 30602-2602                 Department: 706-542-3379
e-mail:               Home: 706-353-7076
URL: <,_John.html>

>The list of participants (at this stage) is:
>Ansie Dippenaar - Arachnida (spiders and mites)   RIETASD@PLANT2.AGRIC.ZA
>Lindie Steynberg - Arachnida (spiders and mites)   RIETLS@PLANT2.AGRIC.ZA
>Ian Millar - Homoptera (aphids and scale insects)
>Michael Stiller - Thysonoptera (thrips)
>Mervyn Mansell - Diptera (fruit flies)
>Terresa Goszczynska - Bacterial diseases   NIPBTG@PLANT1.AGRIC.ZA
>Mudzuli Nephalela - Bacterial diseases
>Vallry Moloto - Bacterial diseases
>Amanda Ratseou - Bacterial diseases
>Dino Martins - Invasive plants
>Hildegard Klein - Invasive plants   RIETHDB@PLANT2.AGRIC.ZA
>Henri Mbale - Invasive plants
>Annalize Lubbe - Hymenoptera (bees)
>Connal Eardley - Hymenoptera (bees) VREHCDE@PLANT5.AGRIC.ZA