NatureWorm is coming to a neighborhood near you
Get Outside | Connect Wildly
Organisms at specific times and places are the core of the life sciences—nature's encyclopedia. Everything else in terms of biology's content and application flows from that hub, and without that information, animals and plants will continue to vanish—society worse off. On one hand, there are millions of species and for the vast majority of them we lack any archive. If we had even twenty observations per species, the management and use of that information would have been inconceivable only a decade ago. On the other hand, we desperately need to reconnect humanity with nature, not only for the sake of the natural world but because in doing so, we ourselves gain perspective, creativity, and peace of mind. Social networks and information technology are poised to join those two hands in a partnership for the environment and society.
NatureWorm aims to train and harness the public in the practice of natural history. From grandparents to grandkids, one can return home from a walk after seeing a favorite bird, pond turtle, or wildflower — and literally become a contributing naturalist. Six-year-old Molly, with help from her parents could record her observations at NatureWorm and voucher them with uploaded digital images, video, or audio recordings. If so inclined, Molly and her dad could upload their pond turtle photo and observations to NatureWorm in their local park with their mobile phone.
NatureWorm will be the first-ever attempt to bring nature to the masses via a social network. Tapping into social networks to aggregate environmental data and re-connect citizens with nature stands to offer unprecedented value. NatureWorm rests on the premise that we conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. And we will understand only what we are taught. Social networks provide a new platform to self- and group-teach by harnessing the power of the Internet. NatureWorm blends an environmental venture with sustainable economic financing, moving toward a non-charity financing model. NatureWorm strives to rekindle the misplaced emotional bond between ourselves and nature, and if successful, the social return will be revolutionary.
Go Ahead, Log a Joe
Joe: An organism, its identify verifiable from a digital image, recorded at a specific place and time.
This core observation is named in the honor of Joseph Grinnell (1877-1939), a childhood naturalist turned founding director of University of California's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. Joe was a pioneer in the study of natural history and an early proponent of environmental conservation. He also foreshadowed Natureworm when upon reflection he realized the real value of his work was that "after the lapse of many years, possibly a century, the student of the future will have access to the original record of [animal] faunal conditions." Joe trained dozens of naturalists that went on to train hundreds more. His influence continues today.
Be Bold, Up an Annie
In many cases more detailed observations of a species or its surroundings are possible, including such things as behavior, habitat, and weather. When you supply additional details, your observation is upgraded to an Annie, in the honor of Annie Alexander (1867-1950). Annie was Joe's boss. An heiress and big game hunter, she was a bold woman whose patronage established the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and continues to support it today. Growing up in a time when women had little involvement outside of the home, Annie was an intrepid explorer whose fascination with the natural world was endless. While not formally trained as a scientist, she logged natural history observations until her final days. She spent her 80th birthday doing so in Mexico.
An Annie upgrade is possible during your initial logging of an observation on Natureworm, or can be stimulated by subsequent feedback, in the form of questions to you from other fellow naturalists.