Monday, May 23, 2011

Encyclopedia of Life

I've said before-- I think 'weeds' ought not to be overlooked.  But even when you look-- there are things you miss.  I never noticed the aphids under the stem of this 2mm diameter flower ('Cucumber Herb' Trigonotis peduncularis ) 'til I got it uploaded.  Then I wondered-- Is the ant 'milking' these aphids, just like E.O. Wilson (among others) discovered?

 I had heard of the Encyclopedia of Life while watching E.O. Wilson's 2007 TED talk where he accepts his TED prize, and talks about the stages he went through as a child, how he was blinded in one eye and his slight deafness,  and his love of all things in the natural world--especially the Little Things.  I've been reading his lovely book Diversity of LifeIt's well-written--the layperson gets a very real sense of how much he delights in the world, and how much he loves science.

I recently re-discovered it looking at somebody's Flickr stream-- "wow!", I thought, "What gorgeous photos!"  Then I noticed that it was in a Flickr Group called "Encyclopedia of Life"... The same one?  Just named after that?  I clicked on it...  and sure enough-- the link took me right to the Encyclopedia of Life itself.  Oh boy!  Clicking around some of the entries with photos of organisms, I noticed a link on the sidebar under "Contribute"... 'Submit an Image', it said.  Really?  I checked--sure enough, anybody can submit photos to the Encyclopedia of Life.  Just get a Flickr account, upload your shots, put the right kind of copyright on it, and make sure it has a taxonomic machine tag so the photo can be harvested (machine taxonomic tag found by their search algorithm) to build the Encyclopedia.  Citizen Science that anybody can be a part of--no matter where you live, nor how old you are.  
So, I've uploaded some of my photos, since I noticed that very few Japanese species are represented in the Encyclopedia... and some of them have been harvested (though not yet reviewed as far as I can see).  

(Undignified, but I will allow myself a very small... squeee.)

I figured out how to put recent Flickr photos and a link in the sidebar (scroll down a bit), so you're all welcome to have a look if you like.  And if you have some nice, clear photos that would be good for identifying any form of life-- consider uploading it to the Encyclopedia:-)) 


  1. Weeds definitely ought not to be overlooked! For one thing, they are the only thing that grow in my front yard (because it's a measly plot of land in forever shade), but foremost because they are so pretty, for the most part! My neighbours seem to think daisies are weeds, but I weep when the neighbourhood gardener chops then down with the land mower. ;_; I also love the little blue herbs that seem to grow in all European lawns; like little lanterns in an emerald sea. I loved to look at them as a child, lying face-down in the grass and just watch life carry on among the grass roots.

    I also recently learnt that dandelions are asexual. I thought it was very fascinating, so now I even see dandelions with new eyes!

    Oh heavens, I'm a weed-aficionado! 8D

  2. I think that I read, "A weed is a flower growing in the wrong place." I must leave for school More, later.

  3. Josephine-- I took several dandelion photos that you might enjoy. Click on the flicker link and go to the second page:-)) And there are a couple of tiny blue flowers here that I *love* that seem to be nothing but weeds to most, or Wildflowers at best. They do tend to name everything in children's field guides, though--which is nice, since those are the flowers one is most likely to see when out with a child.

  4. Cary-- good one! I favorited a photo in somebody's photostream at Flickr because I loved the description: "A weed is a plant that has master every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows."

    Thought that was pretty good, too;-)

  5. That is so awesome! And i love those little aphids!

  6. Josephine-- thanks so much for looking and for your kind comments!

    Sarah-- EoL is pretty cool, though a *huge* undertaking. And those aphids--I seriously never even saw them 'til after I'd uploaded the photo and looked at it on L size!

  7. Yay4Weeds!

    EOL. Not seen that before. And there's your Flickr widget.

    *getting ready to lose several hours of my life, and…clicking!*

  8. Founding Lifetime Member here of SOGBFTPOPUCAW-- so I'll second that cheer. Yay!

    Thanks for looking:-))