Starting a new year

I have mixed feelings about my participation in iNaturalist.org

Having moved a few times in the past three or four years, I have had a tough time keeping up with trying to ID and trying to follow other people's observations.
Now, that I am in the Mojave Desert, hiking alone and not knowing the flora/fauna of this area very much, as well as not encountering other hikers with the same interests I have, I must say I feel somewhat discouraged.
Technology is surpassing me and all the changes seem overwhelming.
I am still posting one observation at a time and the obsolete way it eats up too much of my time.

I doubt too many people will read this but, in case someone does, I would welcome a suggestion because I would like to regain some confidence in the work that I have been doing in documenting my surroundings.

Thank you for reading me and Happy trails to all for 2017.

Posted by microm microm, January 04, 2017 09:16 AM

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I would just say keep taking pictures and working through identifications. I haven't spent as much time in the desert as I would like but I love it down there. I do know some folks out in the Baker/Zzyzx area that are birders but interested in desert ecology in general. Check out the Desert Studies Center if you are close to that area.

Posted by vermfly about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Michele, I for one enjoy seeing your observations from the desert and would refer to your feed if I were to visit the area. Scrolling through your list of observations I seeing interesting species and conversations---your observations are a contribution to the iNat community and the record of species in your region. How exciting that you are able to discover and learn new species! I love this discussion among your observations about a plant that is often overlooked as common or difficult to ID to species: http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/4417494. There are some serious botanists commenting there!

With regards to keeping pace with the technology, I can imagine two outlooks and others may offer others: You can decide not to be bothered by your slow pace (I have a friend who slowly works through piles of photos but eventually gets them all added) or you can turn to the community for help and advice with the updated computer and smart phone interfaces. I am happy to help with the easier questions especially about using the app which I use frequently. I have found help readily (and eagerly) offered in response to most of my questions. Do you visit the Google Group (click on "Feedback" at the bottom of the page)? You can post questions there and read what others have posted.

I can also offer kinship with regards to hiking and exploring alone, and understand how it can be at once liberating and efficient, and lonely. But you are not alone within this community. I hope you continue to share observations (one at a time or otherwise). I'll be following.

Gena

Posted by gbentall about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Hey - I faded away for a couple of years when it seemed like nobody was verifying my plants, even the common ones. Things are growing and getting more active. Should be interesting to see where this goes. Hang in there!

Posted by snakeinmypocket about 2 years ago (Flag)
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I can sympathize, Michele. My last big move was when I moved to the Bay Area and I am terrible at making friends, so I felt really lonely for a long time. Online social networks can both alleviate and exacerbate loneliness for me, so personally I try to be aware of which direction they're pushing me, and wean myself off them if they're doing more harm than good. I don't always succeed at that, of course, but I haven't looked at twitter for months b/c it was becoming too great a source of anxiety / distraction. If iNat isn't fun or satisfying to you, there's no harm in taking a break or just leaving it behind for practices that are more rewarding.

On the subject of technological change, you have me to blame for some of that, so feel free to make a kueda-shaped voodoo doll and stick it on a cholla somewhere. For what it's worth, we try not to make changes that are *only* cosmetic. For example, the new uploader is very different, but it's also much more efficient, and can actually save you time if you try it out for a while. I actually just walked my dad through this a few days ago. Sometimes these things just take a little time to get used to.

On the subject of time investment, I run into that a lot too, especially with moths. Running a moth sheet for an evening means *several* future evenings of photo processing and identification, all of which I find rewarding for various reasons, but it totally prevents me from doing anything else with my life. I also find that I sometimes get into a "document everything" mindset on the trail, which can be fun, but also just eats up my time, both in the field and at home if I'm using my SLR. So I often find myself setting rules for myself, like "I'm only going to observe things I think are beautiful today," or "only flowers," or "I'm only going to ID 5 observations." If you have a smartphone, I've also found using the app saves me a lot of time in the long run, since I find myself less concerned with getting a pretty picture and I don't feel obligated to do any post-processing at home.

Anyway, I'm sorry you're feeling discouraged, and I hope you find a way around it. Maybe iNat can be a part of that, but if not, that's just fine.

Posted by kueda about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Very sorry to hear of your discouragement; even while dwelling in the naturalists' paradise of the high desert... I'd agree that feedback from the correspondents of Inaturalist can be spotty--especially so when we make journal entries. I must say it does certainly several orders of magnitude improvement over what amateur naturalists have formerly lived with. I hope and expect this will improve even more if we can draw more citizens into our deeply eccentric avocation.

Since we've passed the solstice, and every day brings us closer to the wonders of the desert spring, I'd like to predict that things will brighten up soon. Please persist, for yourself as well as all of us.

Posted by icosahedron about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Hang in there, Michele -
Realize that we see what you are doing and we appreciate it and enjoy it. You certainly made a difference for me when I started on iNat. For me, the connections make it all worthwhile.

I have started going back through older posts looking for those I can confirm. That has helped me feel more useful and connected to the community, especially since almost all of my observations are made in the summer.

Best wishes on finding success in the desert. I have yet to post a couple of trips worth of observations from an area south of Barstow. I know when I get around to posting them that I can expect the support that I've had from observations elsewhere.

Bill

Posted by sekihiker about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Thanks for the kind words and suggestions everyone. I did not expect anyone to read the post so, it was a pleasant surprise.

I am not lonely when I hike but, occasionally, I would want to get together with knowledgeable naturalists without going too far from where I live.
I use a digital camera and have no iphone. My laptop is bursting at the seems with all the pictures I have taken and I definitely have to do a major clean up, organizing and saving on a flash drive or elsewhere. I am not far from Zzyzx so, I'll try to go.
Ken-Ishi, I am still looking for the shots of the chrysalis I was documenting when I was in San Diego but, for now, can't find the originals.
I have tried to asked questions in the chat group but I am one of those slow learners that needs to have a tutor and practice over and over again before I get it. Written words are harder to deal with than visual illustrations, in my case.
Finally, when I make that voodoo doll on a cholla or other cactus, I'll make sure I post it. :-)
Thanks again folks for the encouragement and suggestions.

Posted by microm about 2 years ago (Flag)
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@microm Don't feel too bad about not getting every single observation into iNaturalist. Just by participating and getting in what you can you are doing more with the information you collect than most people ever will.

Posted by vermfly about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Hey Michele,

I appreciate that you wrote this out in a journal post -- and especially that you're seeing the comments of those that have read it!

iNat has replaced a lot of those other social networks for me, and that's much healthier (for me at least). It's not as vitriolic as the other social networks, and I get to correspond/comment more with people that share my interest in nature. When I feel lonely, I just log onto iNat, look through some observations from people from far off lands (like California!), and live vicariously through their adventures -- even with a cheesy "wow! Neat observation!" or something along those lines too.

Now, I'm finding myself organizing some iNat meetups -- you may want to try that. Post in a journal entry and tag some of the top observers in the vicinity -- see if you want to get a group together to go iNatting.

Winter is a lame time for plants though, I know this for sure -- I'm just spotting a lot of winter weeds... Stick in there -- Spring is around the corner! :) Know for whatever it's worth, you've got naturalists friends here. :)

Now, back to that Ken-ichi voodoo doll.... ;)

Posted by sambiology about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Thanks for your input @sambiology.
I am actually trying to participate in Mojave Desert Naturalists meetup but it seems to be a slow moving group. What I mean is that there will not be a hike till February or March. Meanwhile, I have joined another group of archeologists who will be digging really close to where I live so, I'll dig and take pictures. I also have contacted some iNaters who are volunteering hosts at the Mojave Desert Center. That was back before the summer and... nothing happened. I have lots of interests so, there is never a dull moment for me.
Yup, I am seeing lots of weeds popping up with the couple of rains we have had in this region.
I have invited some iNaters to stop by here and I would welcome them to join me in my walks, anytime. :-)
while I am at it, I'd love to learn more about the geology of this area because the rock colors and formations are awesome. Nature never disappoints me.

Posted by microm about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Regarding geology, I've been enjoying https://rockd.org. The level of detail of their geographic data varies from place to place, but it can be quite useful when it's good.

Posted by kueda about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Thank Ken-Ishi, I'll download it on my laptop.

Posted by microm about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Michele -

As far as I can tell, RockD is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch only.

Here are links to geologic maps from the USGS that can be downloaded to your PC or tablet.

https://ngmdb.usgs.gov/maps/mapview/

This page allows you to download geologic maps including overlays to Google Earth which I think is pretty cool.

Best Wishes -
Bill

Posted by sekihiker about 2 years ago (Flag)
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@sekihiker. thanks I will try since technology has surpassed me.

Posted by microm about 2 years ago (Flag)

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