BDeed's picture

The future direction of iSpot!

I do understand the difficulties.. In order for iSpot to work there needs to be that go-to resource of knowledge. That knowledge has been built up by individuals who are rarely (if ever??) paid for doing it and asked for our benefit to share it.

Now we'd be pretty out of order to just expect that knowledge to be given (and sifting iSpot isn't without time cost) without anything in return.

For some it may just be that warm fuzzy feeling from helping someone identify something new for the first time or confirming a hard won identification is enough.

For others they will be more interested in the science and that i feel is where things can get tricky.. In biological recording is someone identifies something for you that record becomes there intellectual property, if they confirm an identification you made then the intellectual rights are shared. Which is fine, if people know they are making biological records!

And this is where i see a separation. iSpot as far as i am aware is not about biological recording.. yes it has all the key parts to make a biological record and i would hazard a guess that most on iSpot would be happy that their information was being used in this way (in fact i know some already think it is!).

Really there needs to be a choice. Is iSpot about biological recording (via citizen science) or is it about community engagement, awareness raising and learning. It's not that it can't strictly be both, but conflicts will not allow it to do both equally well also with the existence of iRecord (which is biological recording) are they both not in direct competition?

In a way this could be partially solved by a user account checkbox stating "Do you provide biological records elsewhere". Which if checked would prevent iSpot observations being taken further.. But you are still trying to make iSpot something that perhaps it shouldn't be?

(note this has come from some preliminary discussion in: "6 different people imagine a fungus"



Ray Turner's picture

This is a debate I can’t get my head around

As an OU student of Neighbourhood Nature it was made quite clear to us that if not currently then certainly in the future iSpot was intended (certainly an ambition) to be a Recording and Mapping tool feeding into the various schemes. It is also made very clear in the iSpot Ts&Cs that our records will be shared with various bodies.

That our data is used in this way is not in doubt; David Howdon has commentated on his experience as a recorder using iSpot records in the forum.

I don’t believe there is much conflict between biological recording and iSpot’s public engagement function. Indeed given that recording schemes are for the most part under fed the more the merrier. Ultra modern statistical analysis thrives on sorting the wheat from the chaff and there is a growing recognition that not every record in a data set has to be 100% accurate. One bad apple does not spoil the barrel. This is still not the view at the coalface but it is becoming recognised.

Though if one is concerned about this issue it is not confined to iSpot; there is a related thread on iRecord with a call for something like a trusted contributor status.



BDeed's picture

It's all about the feeling..

I suppose it is really concerns in principle rather than reality. My records go to each LRC and in the case of bryophytes are passed to the vc recorder. If they are also being passed on this way everything i have ever put on iSpot is a duplicate.

As are the spots i have encouraged the LRC volunteers to submit as part of their learning and engagement with the naturalist community.

Those records will be being verified and confirmed under differing methods by different people and so become separate enough that they may not be picked up as duplicates.

I knew records were being used by schemes from iSpot but i hadn't realised that this was a firm goal and direction. I had assumed this was the remit of iRecord.

As above i suppose it is the principle of it, i have been a member now since 2010. Perhaps not that long, but long enough to have developed my own view (which i admit has changed, at one time i was very keen on observations being mobilised into records!).

I don't know, maybe i have no real point, maybe it is just a feeling that i feel the need to explore! This is a discussion forum after all.

Lesson learned, read the Ts&Cs!

Ray Turner's picture

Comment from a national recorder

Matt’s comments here - - are interesting.



BDeed's picture

Duplication of effort!

It seems this subject has already been pretty well covered.

Matt has a point. But the majority of LRCs now make data available on the NBN Gateway where any National Scheme could access it, and there is increased movement in this direction.

MBB would also provide data directly should any Naturalist or National scheme ask for it (free of charge) but in the three years i have been here very few National schemes have contacted us outside of the vc recorders we work with locally.

Communication problems maybe?