Botanical software

Paul Furbacher pf at
Mon Jan 11 01:31:07 EST 1993

In article <01GT4Q1VZF4G8X2ALE at PEARL.TUFTS.EDU>, 
> Botanical software of possible use?
> Just yesterday I was browsing through the electronic section of a dept.
> store, and noticed hand-held (calculator-sized) language translators,
> dictionaries, baseball fact compendia, etc. It would be fun to have
> a BOTANICAL KEY in such a format.
Not only fun but educational, too.

> You'd take this mini-computer into
> the field, punch in floral characteristics, and it would give you the
> Family, if not the very species. The writing has already been done in
> Book form (major floras of regions throughout the world). It would be
> a matter of converting the printed dichotomous keys to the computer
> format, AND correctly diagnosing floral morphology.
> Has this already been done, or is the market too small?

It probably hasn't been done for hand-held computers, but 
if you work hard on convincing your favorite publishers to
look into putting the data onto CD or MD, then in a few
years, the hand-helds will have CD-ROMs or MDs in them and 
all of us who would like to know what we're looking at in 
the field, but can't remember enough from our field botany 
courses taken fifteen years ago, will be in heaven.
(Prof. W.H. Wagner, Jr. would be disappointed if he knew how
much I've forgotten over the years.  Well, I am too.  His 
field botany course was perhaps the most intense course I
ever took, and second in enjoyment behind the systematics
course he offered the previous semester.  Very regrettably, I've
forgotten most of the material from both courses.)

Some of the upcoming products from Sony and Apple (Newton) offer 
the promise of holding and handling such encyclopedic 
volumes of information.  Illustrations and photographs would be
an integral part of botanical keys offered in these formats, and
would make identification even more certain for even the novice.
Interactive machines would allow annotations, and even smarter ones
would log your earthly coordinates and link to national botanical
databases to log data on distribution and population sizes.  
And so on -- the possibilities are endless.


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