Monday, December 13, 2010

More Place-Based Technology

The turbulent weather of this fall is translating into a turbulent winter as well.  After picking up several inches of snow last week, Vermont was struck with a storm that blue in with snow and slush, followed by an inch of drenching rain.  Now, the cold air has bumped back in and it's snowing again.  We're expected to pick up about as much snow as the rain washed away - around 4 inches in the valleys, more in the mountains.  This storm has lead to great conditions for watching water move around, if not great conditions for hiking or driving.  As winter comes on though, there is so much to see and document!

A slushy rainstorm was an unpleasant place for recording nature observations electronically or on paper, but now that the rain is turning back over to a dry, soft snow across the Northeast, it's a great time to get outside and explore and document the oncoming winter.  If it's not too cold, one of the best ways to do this uses quite old-fashioned technology - a paper and pen.  Today I listened to a friend give a talk about the importance of a good field notebook.  It's true - it is a cheap and fun and useful way to document nature.


If you happen to have an Iphone or Droid, you have the opportunity to explore and document nature with some high-tech tools as well.  The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy just posted a link on their blog to a really neat 'learning cloud' project for Schenley Park.  It doesn't look like anything is available quite yet, but it will be soon!  Meanwhile, I'm trying to set up a little meta-app for documenting the way water moves through urban areas.  I set one up on Epicollect but right now it's a bit buggy.  If you're feeling adventurous, download that app and load the project SlowWaterMovement (it is caps sensitive).  Finally, for animals, plants, and other urban nature, try Project Noah.

And most importantly, get outside!  The temperature is just now dropping below freezing after a 30 hour thaw, and I can't wait to see how the forest will respond!

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