Friday, December 29, 2017

iNaturalist and this Blog

I started this blog as a place to share my sightings with those interested, provide a bit of educational value and discuss with other like-minded people. I think it's been somewhat of a success at the first two things and mostly a failure at the third. As it turns out, there's a place that is better for all three.

I first tried out iNaturalist in 2013, but the interface needed a lot of work and the community wasn't really there. When I returned this year I found things to be much improved. There are tons of easy-to-use features, experts in everything from lichens to bees identifying other people's sightings, and passionate, friendly, polite discussions (where else on the internet can you find that!).

The basic premise of iNaturalist is that you go and take a photo of some organism in nature. You can upload it to the site, mention what you think it is (even if all you know is that it's some kind of moss, or insect), and the other users of the site can confirm or correct your identification. It even has an astoundingly good automated identification feature, where the computer will give you suggestions for a photo, and usually identify it correctly.

I'm nearly finished uploading all my photos from previous years (over 2000 observations with much of 2015 yet to upload). I think my goal for 2018 is going to be 1000 Ontario species for the year with photos in iNaturalist. My back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that this is difficult but definitely posible. We'll see how it goes.

As for this blog, I don't expect to really use it much more as iNaturalist does just about everything better. I may still post occasional article-style posts if I have something I really want to say.

I'll leave you with a few links. First, my statistics for iNaturalist in 2017:

And some of my favourite sightings from a trip to the Florida Panhandle in November: