Internet and Media (Field Guides to Finding a New Career)

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cueroustapel.ml/map21.php It was a scene of general public shame-face, like they all failed to call the ambulance, or nobody intervened in a fight on the street, or something.

Key Battlefronts

The minority can and do prevail if they are uncompromising. Bureaucrats and politicians who will make SJ-type laws despite the majority population wanting otherwise and so on…. Why should curricula be formulated by popular student opinion? Why should anti-discrimination legislation be formulated entirely by the majority with no direct experience in the ways and means of the issue at hand?

If rabid disseminators and promulgators of dreck surely if the cybercene presently burns with war, then the weaponry must be the yotta-ton of junk info and their warlords torch a pseudo public place such as one proprietary platform or other, what is that to me? At best, that platform is a transparent overlay to whatever life I already have.

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Any new human network I may have gained I can exploit on decentralized media such as email, or truly public media such as a park. Social platforming is developmentally commodity by now and they are well along the main sequence towards played out. For instance, the orthodox left lacks an adherence to openness and liberty, the alt-right lacks an adherence to purity and loyalty.

The desire for progress is little more than a hollow tradition, pursued for motivations more commonly associated with social conservatism. This contradiction is evident when you pick at progressive framings about sexual and racial oppression, which involve a consistent infantilisation of the demographics in question, as well as a paternalistic approach in addressing it.

This false dichotomy was a narrative where a particular indie clique and their press collaborators took ownership of the entire indie phenomenon, to afford themselves underdog status. It is also a poorly kept secret that the online harassment, trolling, doxing, sealioning and mobbing the orthodox left likes to accuse others of were in fact techniques pioneered and honed in progressive communities. Interpreting August as some sort of primary watershed moment in this regard is part of the narrative reframing the progressive media has tried to pull off.

But there was nothing about it that was new or poorly understood. In fact, from my own experience on the ground, what made that conflict uniquely different was that there were enough people waiting in the wings to explain to the confused and insular gaming communities exactly what was happening and why, as well as how to avoid the common rhetorical and moral traps that had allowed orthodox ideology to steamroll over numerous communities before.

This then fuels the information warfare by confirming common misconceptions. That way, it appears e. Such denouncements have never been made by his opponents, who engage in far more consistent and disruptive behavior, such as the recent disruptions at Berkeley. But for some reason, the former always gets repeated in some form or another, even by critics, while the latter does not. Gamergate emerged from the bowels of the internet.

What goes on in the bowels of the internet? Back in the day, there was a very large forum called Something Awful. It was. And it was so large that you had to buy an account on it. People did. Like any cultural movement, it had its geeks, its MOPs, its sociopaths, and its trolls. This very large forum had a subforum called Helldump, which was a little like Encyclopedia Dramatica or Kiwi Farms.

This was primarily led by its sociopaths, i.

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It is probably important to note that callout posts are generally written by women, and that this one was not. I do not think this is an entirely unconsequential detail. Exemplifies a reasoning fallacy that may or may not have a name, leap from some qualitive similarity to exact identity. Both suppose that the threat is a faceless boogieman waiting in the shadows, and that the safest place you can be is at home with the door locked.

Spouse against spouse, parents against children. The only way your home can be a safe space from the culture wars is if the whole household is loyal to the same faction. A Christian nut somehow and yet he has interesting ideas about violence and culture. I am a Libertarian conservative because of the second half of your statement. And that would be a huge step forward for our nation.

Rich, powerful institutions are to sociopaths what petri dishes are to bacteria. Rich growth media which shields them from environmental competition. Any institution sophisticated enough to make a computer or do any of a thousand other things you take for granted will be rich and powerful enough to struggle over. Think about it: America and Japan have lots of rich and powerful institutions; Liberia and Yemen have very few.

Where would you rather live? Interesting read! Had a few basic disagreements though which made the prognosis fall apart for my world-view. When will the war end? Every period in history has been more or less equally tragic. One of our collective cognitive blindspots is to overstate the poignancy and importance of the present moment. Evolution has us predisposed for that. But in an analytical sense, it amounts to a kind of Recall Bias. Virtually every decade of the last century had its moments on the precipice and you could argue there have been culture wars going on ceaselessly.

Peace is the time it takes to reload your gun. I find it more valuable to look at it as a continuum between slow burn and raging fire rather than the more simplistic war-peace duality. Who will win? Winning sounds like it has a kind of finality to it. I think in the short run, over the next decade or so, irrespective of where you fall on the map, how much you have will determine how likely you come out ahead. I know that sounds too simplistic, almost banal, but I am not just talking about having resources in terms of money or power.

It could range from what passport you have to what kind of code you write. Over the long run too, the same pattern will sustain, but it will turn louder and louder, and more pronounced. Kinda like rapidly building tempo in EDM music. The crescendo will come as a memetic, cultural trance that actually requires reimagination on a civilizational level. The process leading up to will resemble radioactive half-life decay; a cultural exponential decay, if you will. Why will they win?

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In the short run, there is too much momentum on the resources side. Over the long run everyone loses. Or wins, depending on who you talk to. What is the future of democracy? Democracy has been hacked, both as a process and as a concept. As a process, it has been hacked through levers like fake news, masked intent, unapologetic public distraction, virtue signaling aimed at the most low hanging emotions etc. As a concept it has been hacked and breached, because its biggest systematic weakness has been laid bare: democracy is a pure numbers game.

It takes just one angry bumpkin to cancel out one Einstein. And it is objectively easier to cultivate a thousand angry idiots than it is to develop even one analytical mind. It might still be the form of governance we most want, but it is going to become lesser and lesser so. I try to imagine what the endgame will look like but I need to flex my imagination muscle a lot more before a reasonable picture can swim into focus.

Can we return to human-scale technology? I think so, but not in the sense that most people imagine. How will the US emerge from this? I waver on this a little bit because I am not convinced how resilient the US is. If the very way that people in a society think and act changes so dramatically, what does that mean for the institutions and systems? Will we see a return to normalcy? Again, a loaded question. I think right now is not abnormal or sub-normal.

To me, it is amped up normalcy, which means it is more perception than intrinsic; a result of the new union between technology, new media, and the culture, rather than out-and-out culture wars. Culture wars have always been around in more or less equal measures. They wax and wane, ebb and flow. The Civil Rights movement of the 60s did turn out to be a colossal culture war. You could say that. Although what I was really trying to do was to iterate on the unknowns that Venkat speculated on, in his post. I like to believe I indulge in more of Social Constructivism than prediction.

But I also do love to delude myself, so you may be right. The writers knew that if democracy has to work, its only possible with strict protections for individual liberty in the form of a strong, enlightened democratic republic and strict checks and balances on the government. Which is also the reason why democracies have no meaning in places like the Middle East or India because the republic is weak in the sense of protecting individual liberty and rights. If democracy were code, the Constitution would simply be the user manual or at best an admin guide for that code with the amendments being the Release Notes, if you care to extend the analogy even further.

As you can imagine, how well articulated an admin guide is has very little to do with how successfully a code executes. Because a successful democracy is merely one in which people are free to make their choices, vote on those choices, and form governments that promise to administrate in alignment with those choices. The quality of the governance that you actually end up getting as a result of this exercice has NOTHING to do with the succcess of the democratic system.

As for the hacking, well, that happens at a higher level. Btw, for whatever its worth, the constitution of India also guarantees pretty much the same, and some would argue even greater freedoms as the US constitution. My point is that if the verbiage, vision, and checks and balances in a constitution were the true measure of how robust and impregnable to hacks a system really is, by now we would have iterated down to one single constitution that all democracies in the world would have adopted and adapted and we could have all lived happily ever after.

I am not denying that democracy can or has been hacked. Liberty is the well-armed sheep contesting the vote. The point is the Constitution must protect the minority from the mob the Einstein from the bumpkins, the Galileo from the church and in the constitution the minority is defined as an individual as that is the most granular one can get. It is a myth that people want freedom.

It is usually only a handful of people in society who desire and make use of it. Most of the public is perfectly happy being lorded over and will revolt only to settle for yet another lordship promising stuff. They just need the illusion of being free. Elections should be made as unimportant and as limited as possible in a strong republic. And, the more you limit government, the less the chances of it being hacked as well. I have no interest in the democracy part or more specifically the electoral part of a democratic republic.

This is completely opposite to your opinion where you think that the constitution is secondary to the democratic process. I have the opposite view. And, also being Indian, I disagree and actually find it ridiculous that you would argue that the constitution in India is better. As an example; compare the language on free speech in both constitutions as a basic but major difference.

Indeed, we would have done better if we had gone closer to the US constitution as that is a really short and clear document. Unfortunately we inherited the British style which is inferior, in my humble opinion. We also had to bring together many disparate tribal mentalities so there had to be various loopholes which end up being misused the state. Regardless of whether you or I are right, we are two examples of immigrants who believe in different cultures, even when talking about something basic as democracy.

At the least you must concede that there might be legitimate reasons to prefer one form of democracy over another and that immigration tends to make this choice without any debate and in my view a worse outcome. Ok, now I am confused about what your basic point is. For someone who is so enamored with how well articulated the US constitution is, do you still agree that the democratic system that it is supposed to protect, has been undermined gradually but fundamentally and not just in a legal, transactional, Russia-meddling sense?

Irrespective, I am not sure I understand from your reply how exactly a constitution protects freedoms or democracy based on what is written in it. What I am saying, is that there are forces that are bigger, more fundamental, and therefore more influential than a constitution and these factors really enable or impede a democratic system in ways that no constitution can ever deal with. These are cultural, sociological forces that pre-dominate and pre-date institutions, constitutions and democracies. As long as these forces are dormant or active only subterraneously, the constitution and its reach determine the success of a society as a democracy.

At that point, the battlefield is essentially elevated to a higher ground. The interplay then is happening on cultural and maybe even a civilizational scale. And I am yet to see a constitution protect an individual, once that reality is triggered. You mentioned how well-articulated the right to freedom of speech in the US constitution is, and how that supposedly results in better protection of freedom.

Are you saying that if someone had dropped that exact verbiage in the Indian constitution back in , a constitution that you allege is more deficient otherwise, somehow Indians would have enjoyed more freedom of speech today? The covert cultural forces that condone that freedom being abridged are stronger than the overt constitutional guarantees an individual has to defend themselves from those forces.

And collective belief along with other cultural forces , is far more malleable than we like to believe it is, the world over. I am tempted to ask if you care to elaborate on what you mean by an elected monarchy exactly? And how it would be materially different from any other ruling elite, including a government in another democracy. By putting a limit on what laws a govt can enact as exemplfied by the quoted para in my previous comment.

Any forces, belief systems, right or wrong have to be codified into law for them to be concrete right? So, that is the shape of the republic, no? Yes ofcourse culture matters and that is reflected by the constitution that a culture selects. A theocratic state and overly religious culture will select a religious consitution for example.

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It does not include either right libertarians or left libertarians, which you would expect to occupy the two bottom corners. The political leadership system is not even wrong about contemporary issues, and freakishly has been in not-even-wrong territory for some time…. To not pretend is very nice of you. Wireless internet is available at the campus. Exemplifies a reasoning fallacy that may or may not have a name, leap from some qualitive similarity to exact identity. The project is designed to promote investigative stories using YouTube and better understand best practices in web video produced by investigative organizations.

Consider Egypt: muslim brotherhood wanted the consitution to have parts of sharia. The secular, liberal parties objected, eventually revolted and selected a secular constituion. They might even have had a technical minority so it was termed a coup in democratic terms. You could even say that democracy was hacked as MB was elected legitimately.

But, what was better for freedom? A theocratic constitution or a secular one? The cultural battleground you talk about was reflected in the battle for the constitution. Yes, exactly! I looked into this in full detail a while back, but a quick google search turns this up by a lawyer and previous minister making a similar point to mine and comparing the verbiage. Which in turn depends on whether the people of a land actually believe in that or not.

But not just that. Verbiage, country, system of governance notwithstanding. Talking specifically about Egypt, if my hypothesis is right, we will see a relapse into the same mess, the new secular constitution notwithstanding. It is no coincidence that India, China, Egypt, Mid East, South America, even Africa, all of which predate the West as identifiable, historic cultures suck at affording their citizens the kind of freedoms the West does.

Attributing that to the deficiencies in their constitutional language is grossly misunderstanding the scale of complexity. The success of a system depends on how strongly its institutions which in the case of a democracy are governed by the constitution resist structural, cultural stresses. That duel in my opinion, is almost always settled in favor of the culture, not the institutions.

How the institutions respond will determine which way it shakes out and that can take decades and generations before it is even evident. As for why the West has done better in terms of individual freedoms than more ancient cultures, well, that is an anthropological deep-dive and a completely separate subject. If you care about freedom, you care about laws protecting an individual against the most powerful mobs in the country. There is absolutely no hope of that hence no liberty. Our culture went from monarchy to colonialism to democracy-mimicry. Btw, did you know that the US constitution is words while the Indian constitution is , words.

How bad can it be? We rank in press freedom out of countries. We rank in economic freedom, lower than Pakistan. The answer to me is obvious and objectively so. You have to put in perspective that we are talking 1. Even just the logistics of that situation are herculean. Ditto with those rankings where places like Nepal and India are supposedly ranked the happiest in the world. In its essence, the point of the republic should be to address the imperfections of democracy.

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However, I am more interested in clarifying something. You seem to argue that some cultures do not afford liberty to the extent of the US system. That American liberty is exceptional and anthropological in character and that mass immigration is likely to alter this situation towards reduced liberty. That seems to be a position similar to the alt-right who would oppose mass immigration on the basis of differing stance on liberty and if someone on the alt-right was to say this, one would call them a racist.

Am I totally misunderstanding something here? Yea, you did misunderstand this. I do think that no culture or very few cultures today afford the kind of liberty the US does. Which is not to say that the US is somehow exceptional, but that it is so young and nascent compared to other cultures, that it has an inevitable, long road of course correction ahead of it.

But every passing decade, every passing century, will inevitably see layers of what you and I call freedom today being diluted. The process is almost biological. As the burden of passing time and life experiences gradually increases, institutions and systems respond and evolve to become more self-preservational than rambunctious, ambition-chasing.

Any youthful exuberance or naive notions of chasing freedom and liberty etc. People in their 70s or 80s will tell you they have seen this happen with the US itself, in their lifetimes! Freedom and liberty, the way the US likes to talk about, is not a ground state of being. It is more like an artificial high. I am just calling it the way I read it. I wish you are right that there is a key variable the constitution, as you believe that can ensure this high can be sustained. I am really trying to avoid pivoting to hardcore philosophy here, but like every other thing on this planet, it will have to get worse before it gets even worse.

Btw, I was never referring to mass migration in this context at all. That can at best be a catalyst, and in either direction at that. There is, as it seems to me, a strong dissolution energy, which destroys the Western civilization, not only in the USA and this energy comes from within. The west goes up in flames, though, as you noted, not physically, but culturally, intellectually and spiritually. I will lose the war anyway, no matter who reigns in Very interesting article. It will be interesting to read analysis of the various tactics and engagements. I hope the Truth Troll skirmish will receive close attention.

This learning experience became a right libertarian victory decided by the left authoritarian. Based on spending much of my time on 8chan, I think the autism spectrum group and the traditional gamers and 4chan group are more aligned than opposed. For example, a lot of the HWNDU flag-finding was done by people at their computers poring over data and this was often referred to as weaponised autism. Anime communities are another front in the culture war. The cartel is something like the informal core of the loose group of anime fansubbers, which is handy for denying that it exists.

I retreated off the internet over the course of — deleted my blog, deleted my twitter never had facebook , changed my email address, quit my job at an internet-centric company. Did I choose to retreat or was I forced to retreat? Am i shirking some kind of… of duty to fight in the culture wars? Am I missing a chance to make an actual difference to causes I care about?

Am I letting people down by not fighting? What does this fighting consist of? Can it be conducted ethically? If I believe that climate change to pick one battlefront from your examples is the biggest problem of our time, then… what? I make a facebook account to send climate science measurements to my climate-skeptic relatives until they block me?

I make a twitter account to yell at climate-change deniers on twitter?

A Quick (Battle) Field Guide to the New Culture Wars

What good does any of this do? Thank you.

I was criticized by some for being on the internot in I was criticized by others for letting MZ kick me off FB on Those people are not in my inner circle of friends, a circle composed of some mid to upper hundreds of people. Maybe you were forced to retreat, and maybe you pre-emptively retreated, and maybe you acted of your own volition. Go with your volition, and consider your circle of friends for advice.

The problems you want to address, e. Yes, I agree. What do you think of that idea, Jay? What is your stance on trying to improve the state of discourse on the internet versus giving it up as a lost cause? Of course, this has implications for anyone trying to run a website. Writers want attention, but attention brings trolls. When any particular site gets overrun with trolls, thoughtful people go elsewhere.

Web communities tend to have a life cycle that starts in obscurity and ends when comments are finally disabled because of all the trolls and spam, of course. The problem is that doing so means you ignore the actual aggressive impulses or potential for concrete damage that can occur. If you are hit by an attack, that does not mean that you are bound to reciprocate in kind, but it might tell you one of the following things:.

The latter is indistinguishable from business dirty tricks, although the timing of your retreat, , suggests some links to the big social complexities going on at the time. No specific collateral damage from loose pattern targeting, but too much daily gunfire and smoke in the background. The last one is the least helpful, but it is a necessary null hypothesis. That you left because of two much ambient stress, not because of anyone particular seeking to increase that stress in you.

Casinos and Casino Hotels. Child Care. Comic Books and Graphic Novels. Commercial Banking and Financial Services. Computer and Video Game Design. Computer Hardware. Computer Software. Dental Care. Earth Sciences. Elder Care. Electronics Manufacturing. Environmental Science and Conservation. Event Planning. Facilities Management.

Fashion and Apparel. Fire Fighting. Fitness and Sports Training and Coaching. Food and Beverage Production. Foreign Languages and Studies. Foreign Trade. Forestry and Forest Products. General Consumer Products. Health Care Management. Health Care Providers. Human Resources. Import Export. Information Technology. Internet Content. Internet Services and Security. Investment Management.

Letter and Package Delivery. Library and Information Services. Machining and Machinery. Mathematics and Physics. Media and Entertainment. Medical Equipment Manufacturing. Military Services. Museums and Cultural Centers. Newspapers and Magazines. Nonprofit Sector. Nuclear Power. Physical space memory is rarely an issue for online Web-based guides, but it is for stand-alone apps loaded on small mobile devices, whose limited processor speeds also increase the time required to search through vast databases.

Formal ontologies and semantics can help speed the searching and parsing of large databases. Graph databases, in which items in the database are linked together—like computers on the World Wide Web or neural nets Edwards and Morse —using nodes and the paths between them instead of the look-up index of an rDB, have the as-yet-unexplored potential to further speed the search of digital field guides with multiple-access keys and very large databases Angles and Gutierrez We compiled a list of 50 species-identification tools that are available online table S1 ; all but 10 were Web based i.

Although this list cannot be exhaustive identification apps are burgeoning , the entries illustrate the range of features currently available in online field guides. After summarizing these features see table S1 for a concise summary and Web addresses for all sites and apps discussed , we illustrate specific attributes with reference to the resources that we have developed. Of the 29 apps that feature identification keys, 18 have multiple-access keys, and 14 offer dichotomous keys. Go Botany is one example of a resource that has all of these features figure 1.

Go Botany is a free suite of Internet-based interactive identification keys and learning tools that runs on desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. Dynamic multiple-access keys and more-technical, clickable dichotomous keys appeal to novices and experts, respectively. Both types of keys allow users to track and change their path to identification using breadcrumb trails.

Several aspects of the display, including autoprompting search tools and virtual display cases showing thumbnail images of plants, are adapted from familiar formats originally developed for e-commerce Matt Belge, Vision and Logic LLC, personal communication, 23 June ; therefore, even novice users learn how to use the app very quickly.

Alternatively, users can select a candidate species set by directly choosing the plant family or genus; family and genus information pages help the users learn higher levels of taxonomic organization, which is useful in formal botany courses. The species-identification page of Go Botany asks the user to answer simple questions about the plant that is to be identified. The user clicks on a question in the left frame, which opens a dialogue box with a question and a helpful hint for observing the specimen.

All botanical terms in this example , node are provided with an illustrated definition on rollover, and the choices of character states are simply illustrated with diagrammatic drawings. In the background are photos that show images of the species in the results set. Go Botany includes more than plant taxa native and naturalized to New England Haines and is built from an extensive database covering plant morphology, habitat affinities, synonymies, look-alike taxa, and species distributions.

Over 37, photographs, technical drawings, and range maps illustrate the keys and species information pages. This wealth of detail presents a key challenge for Go Botany and other online multiple-access keys for many taxa: The application requires a connection to the Internet, because a stand-alone app would use most of the storage capacity currently available on handheld devices. Smartphones and tablets are nearly ubiquitous. These portable devices have increasingly large amounts of storage; built-in, GPS-enabled cameras; and instant connectivity to social networks and networks of experts.

Many field guides can be stored on a single smartphone and used as identification manuals, study guides, and data-collection devices. Hundreds of commercial apps are available for purchase or free download, covering a wide array of species; a recent 7 August search yielded 25 apps for plant identification alone on iTunes, 9 of which are free.

Many apps exhibit a variety of features, including identification tools that use simple icons representing character states, information on each taxon, and the ability to network with others and instantly upload sightings table S1. The BRIT guide is an inexpensive app with which rural students, farmers, ranchers, and naturalists can view and study images of herbarium specimens to identify species of range plants. The guide provides images; nomenclature; pronunciation guides; and a brief description of each plant that includes its growth season, its value for wildlife and grazing animals, and data on whether it is native.

Users can review species with a flashcard feature or can test themselves with identification quizzes. Computer-based visual recognition is used to identify species in another way; a person sees an organism, photographs it, and queries a database for the identity of the resulting image MacLeod Rapid advances in using visual-recognition software are yielding automated systems for identifying plants, insects, vertebrates, and benthic invertebrates e. Leafsnap emphasizes interactivity: The user takes a photograph of a single leaf, using the built-in camera of their iPhone or iPad, and Leafsnap then compares the photograph to a central library of more than images stored in a remote database.

Leafsnap automatically determines the contours of the leaf and uses visual-recognition software to find a match for it in the database Agarwal et al. Next, Leafsnap brings up high-resolution images of the leaf, along with images of the species' flower, fruit, seeds, and bark.

The app also supplies background information on the species and its geographic distribution. When the identification is not straightforward, Leafsnap users dig into other related images in its database, such as fruit shape or leaf venation patterns. In the end, it is up to the user to make the correct determination of the species, which reinforces botanical learning.

Once a user successfully identifies a tree, his or her photograph and accompanying GPS location data are automatically uploaded into Leafsnap's database, contributing to the work of a community of scientists who are using the stream of data to map and monitor how the abundances and geographic ranges of different tree species are changing through time and as a function of climatic change.

The mobile application Leafsnap consists of a number of interactive screens that provide the user with information about tree species and with the ability to automatically identify a tree by taking a photograph of an isolated leaf. Source: W. John Kress, Leafsnap. Widespread popular interest in natural history and the availability of next-generation field guides is facilitating the growing engagement of citizen scientists with the professional scientific community Newman et al. Go Botany has a citizen-science portal, called PlantShare, where plant enthusiasts can share sightings, get crowdsourced or expert advice on identifying plants, and create checklists.

From BugGuide's launch in to the end of , it reached more than 4 million unique visitors; image submissions have increased even faster. BugGuide currently includes more than 26, species on more than 42, pages and nearly , images that have been contributed by nearly 22, individuals. A distinctive aspect of BugGuide is the ability of a user to request an identification of an unknown specimen; it is 1 of only 2 of the 16 applications that we reviewed that does so table S1.

Volunteer editors and taxonomic experts monitor the request queue and identify the specimens i. After identification, the images are moved out of the request queue and into BugGuide itself, ending up on individual-taxon information pages created by a BugGuide editor. Each taxon is arranged within a taxonomic hierarchy, and each level of that hierarchy has its own information page. These pages contain contributed images and information on a range of topics, including species diversity, key characteristics, distribution, and ecological characteristics, which can be used to generate distribution maps and summaries of phenological information.

BugGuide has become a popular online resource for enthusiasts of the study of insects, not only because of its content and ease of use but also because of its welcoming atmosphere for both scientists and citizen scientists. Discover Life www. This integrated science and education platform, currently used by more than , people every month, enables users to collect and analyze data on the identity, distribution, and abundance of organisms; to conduct original research; and to learn science.

Discover Life's integrated tools include more than multiple-access identification guides to, and checklists for, groups including plants, vertebrates, fungi, and many arthropods; a global mapper that displays the distribution of more than , species; and quantitative tools to assess changes in phenology. User-created albums enable contributors to manage the data associated with photographs, to map where they photographed a species, and to maintain a digital list of their contributions. Since March , for example, through Discover Life's moth project, phenological data on more than species from , photographs from North America and Costa Rica have been identified and analyzed.

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With any data-collection effort, ensuring verifiable contributions is paramount. Discover Life research protocols require participants to include photographs of the time and date on their cell phone, of a GPS display, and of landmarks to confirm that the time and location are correct. Novices, experts, and computer algorithms work in concert to name specimens and correct errors associated with observations. Discover Life, eBird, and BugGuide, among many others, employ both professional and citizen scientists as moderators or gatekeepers for new data.

As the number of users and the volume of their contributed data increases, more moderation will be needed. It is especially crucial to ensure that sensitive data on rare species such as the locations of taxa vulnerable to poaching and information that personally identifies specific users are protected. Rather than simply consulting a printed field guide for help with identification, many people now attempt online searches.

Therefore, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is developing the Merlin bird-identification tool. Merlin asks people questions about their sightings and uses citizen-science data, crowdsourced descriptors, and artificial intelligence algorithms to enhance the semantic definitions within All About Birds, thereby improving the search results. Merlin first asks users when and where they saw the bird, then taps into the eBird citizen-science database, which contains more than million observations from birders. Merlin then helps users further refine their identifications on the basis of attributes they saw, such as color, size, and behavior.

However, people notice, recall, and describe the same details many different ways, including ways that do not match the descriptors in a database provided by experts e. To improve the returns of searches based on variable responses, Merlin uses artificial intelligence algorithms to consider a user's prior responses to inform the next question it asks, in much the same way that the Go Botany algorithm does.

It uses probabilities to tap into a database populated with expert descriptors and crowdsourced descriptors gathered through online activities such as Mark My Bird, in which people describe the traits of birds on the basis of photos. Merlin uses visual-recognition software developed by the Visipedia project www. Massive amounts of data can be gathered in a short time by engaging the online communities of citizen-science projects such as eBird, social media, and other Web sites.

Photographers have contributed more than 80, annotated photographs of birds, which were used to develop the visual recognition system. If Merlin proves successful, the techniques used to develop it will be adapted for other taxa, providing a new generation of online identification tools. Ultimately, the process of creating a next-generation field guide that communicates reliable information and that people will want to use depends on four fundamental steps: 1 clearly identifying the target audience; 2 conducting iterative user testing with that audience during the design and development of the app; 3 ensuring that the data are protected from inappropriate reuse; and 4 building long-term resources to maintain the app, update the data, and respond to changing technology.

Although user testing is a sine qua non of software and Web-site development, opaque and difficult to navigate Web sites continue to crowd the Internet. In clearly articulating the characteristics of the archetypal user of a next-generation field guide, it is useful to develop a persona sensu Cooper et al.

This persona should be a portrait sufficiently rich that the design team can determine whether a user matching the persona would use a certain feature. Iterative, objective user testing must be conducted to help refine and improve preliminary designs wireframes for a field guide. In such tests, the wireframes are shown to a set of users—not affiliated with the project—who broadly represent the personas identified by the design team. User tests are reality checks in the design process: They help the design and programming team overcome internal biases and ensure that the application will be user friendly and widely adopted.

Copyright protection for intellectual property, including photographs and illustrations, should be in place, and image contributors must have mechanisms for permitting the reuse of their work.