Plant DB - user friendly/funding?

John Schinnerer eco_living at
Tue Dec 25 18:12:49 EST 2001

Mele Kalikimaka,  Merry Happy, Happy Merry,

There are two elements to the proposed plant DB.
(PS: this message has turned out to be a bit of a draft proposed spec
for some general aspects of the DB)

One element is the *data*, which can be as regional or global as anyone
wants.  This can be implemented various ways, most of which can be
transparent to the end user and enable them to filter their searches
(and input to the DB) by region, state, nation, bioregion, etc. or not
at all (global), as long as keys for desired filters are provided in
the stored data.  The search engine can be accessing one big fat
database or many separate distributed databases or any similar
combination and it won't matter to the user.  We volunteer geeks are
supposed to take care of that...;-)  Data can be gathered from wherever
there are people interested in gathering and submitting it and/or
hosting a segment of a distributed database.

The other element is the database *implementation*, which if
well-designed will harbor no politically incorrect limitations on what
nations, peoples, tribes, groups, races, colors, creeds, etc. can *use*
the implementation to store and retrieve data they consider relevant to
their situation and offer it to others as well.

As I understand it we are going about the database implementation as an
'open source' project which will be free for others to contribute to,
acquire, use, modify and redistribute under the terms of an open source
license like the Gnu public license or similar.  So if "we" don't build
up data for everywhere on the planet, people everywhere on the planet
with the minimum tech resources can do so themselves.  I don't presume
to know jack about African flora and their interrelations; I want
people in Africa who do to provide that data.

I also assume we are intending to maximize accessibility through use of
open-source development tools and high-accessability, non-proprietary
interfaces.  For example, the database will be fully accessible (input
and output) via free text-only browsers (lynx, etc.) that will run
adequately over archaic low-speed connections on ancient donated,
scrounged, salvaged and otherwise inexpensive/free computer systems
that can adequately run open source systems such as linux.

Connectivity (and electricity) remains an issue for most of the world,
but cheap/free hardware and free software is a good start... :-). 
Perhaps the WHO, UN, etc. can help out with money and other resources
for essential technology items, electricity and connectivity.  

I think the above addresses this...

>All people are created equal, but some are more equal than others!

>Seems the (information) rich get richer and the poor get nothing -
>again. The people that would most benefit from a Plants DB aren't
>being considered. Asia, South America and Africa should be catered
>for! And don't forget Australia and the Pacific :)

...fairly thoroughly.  

I also see a lot of patronizing in the latter paragraph that I don't
support.  All 'those people' are capable and competent in their own
domains and some probably have far more plant knowledge in their
personal/collective culture and daily living than any non-biological
plant DB could ever encompass or than I could hope to acquire in the
rest of my life.

John Schinnerer, MA
- Eco-Living -
Cultural & Ecological Designing
Food - Shelter - Community
john at

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