Field Notes Challenge Part 4: Help, ‘Cause We Need Somebod(y/ies)

Co-written once again with Gaurav Vaidya.

Over the last week, Gaurav has continued to pull templates out of his hat (leaving rabbit pulling to Rob and his bunnies) and we now have templates for locations and dates.  The syntax for these templates are very similar to the “taxon” template we discussed in the last post (and touch on below).

Let’s start with date.  The general syntax is:

{{dated|<date in YYYY-MM-DD Format>|<date as transcribed>}}

So this example from Page 12 of Notebook 1 becomes, “{{dated|1905-08-04|Aug. 4}}.”

The Location template looks similar –

{{place|Location Name|Location name as transcribed}}

– but does something particularly nifty: it creates a linkout to OpenStreetMaps which immediately resolves the place name on a map along with links to Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons.  So this example on Page 6 of Notebook 1 is annotated like this:
“{{place|Florissant Lake|Florissant Lake basin}},” which creates a box like this: The little circled map in the image above is the link out.  YAY MAPS.

As always, the million dollar question is: what next?!?  The next step is to continue using these templates to fully annotate Henderson’s first notebook — which is where you guys come in.  All these experiments are well and good, but until the rubber hits the road (or the fingers hit the keyboard), its more theory than practice. We need your help.  If you have time and inclination, please jump in and annotate.  We want to make it clear that you can’t hinder our progress, only help, and that this is really easy.  It’s a wiki, so hit “edit” on one of the pages (for example this one, which mentions pikas (!)), and just try out a taxon or location annotation.  For example, on Page 31, you could hit edit and replace the word “chickadee” with this:  {{taxon|Paridae|chickadee}}, or even {{taxon|chickadee}} and VOILA — annotation!  Go back to the main index page (the up arrow next to the ‘Page | Discussion | Image” links) and you can see the changes have also shown up in the main contents page.

We have a particular need to get this done quickly, because we have been asked to assemble our experiments into a peer-reviewed and hopefully published paper in a special issue of Zookeys.  A manuscript is due in mid-March and, yeah, that isn’t very far away.  So we could really use your help with annotating this text. The rewards — apart from a general sense of well-being and the satisfaction of contributing to the furthering of knowledge about our planet — will be a direct mention of your help in the acknowledgements section of our paper.  If you are interested in making a more substantive contribution in terms of work and writing, we’d be pleased to chat more and possibly include you as a co-author.

We have been on the fence previously about the utility of prizes, and whether these are effective incentives, or a titch gimmicky.  In the past we’ve given (very small) Amazon gift cards as prizes, as a way to say thank you to those that took the time to comment on post, but this time around we’re thinking of something different: Rob is happy to make a small donation from (very limited) personal funds to make a Junius Henderson coffee mug and then give those away as prizes to people.  But we wanna know — do prizes help motivate you to get involved in annotating?  Or are they eye roll inducing?

COME ON who doesn’t want a coffee mug?

Next post: text mining, annotations and occurrences!

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About Andrea

Andrea is a Ph.D. student in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is supported by the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship. Her research interests include text mining; scholarly communication; data curation; biodiversity, phylogenetic and natural history museum informatics; and mining and making available undiscovered public knowledge. She is particularly interested in information extraction from natural history field notes and texts, and improving methods of digitizing and publishing data about the world's 3–4 billion museum specimen records so they can be used to better model evolutionary and ecological processes.
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One Response to Field Notes Challenge Part 4: Help, ‘Cause We Need Somebod(y/ies)

  1. Paul Flemons says:

    Hey Andie,
    We have been thinking along the same lines with rewards – mugs and/or t-shirts for our volunteers, both onsite and online. Ill be interested in what people say in response to your blog questions. I have been advertising the Volunteer Portal (http://volunteer.ala.org.au) through many different mail lists and newsletters and have found the same problem that I alluded to in my TDWG talk – that its quite difficult to get transcribers to try the site and even harder to get them to stay. Having said that Im still very happy with progress so far with 5175 specimen labels of a total of 14320 having been transcribed and all 295 pages of the Scott Sisters Field Notes having been transcribed. Would be interested in contributing to the Zookeys paper as an author if you are interested. Keep up the good work! Cheers Paul

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