Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lower Merion Conservatory

There are two distinct types of outreach programs that our chapter can engage in: Attracting readers, and attracting contributors. Both of these two tasks are difficult in their own right.

Johnny and I are heading down to the Lower Merion Conservatory eventually (we need to make a proper appointment) to talk to the people there about some open-content projects, especially Wikiversity's amazing [[Bloom Clock]]. For readers who are not familiar with the bloom clock project, it's a visual guidebook to flowering plants by region and time of year. While the scope of the bloom clock will eventually include areas all over the globe, currently the project only encompasses south eastern pennsylvania. To use the bloom clock, you figure out which month it is, scroll down the list to find that month, and then click on the color of the flower you want to find. For each color, there will be a large graphical list of all the flowers that have been seen already in that area, of that color.

Participation in the bloom clock is easy: When you see a particular flower, log onto Wikiversity, find that flower, and sign your name. Your signature includes a timestamp, which serves to give a time to a sighting of that particular flower. In essence, the bloom clock is a collection of "evidence" about what plants are blooming at which times.

The value of such a project, especially in terms of a local nature conservatory, could be enormous. Groups of volunteers could be adding data to the project, and groups of students and visitors could look at the visual lists to help identify the plants that they find at the conservatory. It's our hope that we can help to convince the volunteers at Lower Merion Conservatory of these arguments.

Oh, and if we could get some more interest in the [[Wikimanual of Gardening]] Wikibook, or even Wikipedia's [[Portal:Gardening]] at the same time, that would be a nice bonus.