Sunday, May 16, 2010

Where am I going with this?

Los Padres Dam, CA
May 28, 2009

Click here to follow the trail sign to the original "about embedded links" post of which this is a postscript.

I was recently blocked from accessing CalFlora and was required to register after a whole year of using the site, without any logins, for free, and being granted written permission to link to it. I suspect this move was due to a recent late night, unable to sleep with my usual insomnia, when I began a flower family organizing extravaganza that may have alerted the servers at CalFlora of unusual activity. Or it could have been that I simply accessed the site in a way I never had previously. Hahaha.

I questioned John M. about the registration requirement and he replied with a bit of grumpy attitude that I should not mistake registering with paying. These are two separate things. Apparently, having registered users helps with grants and such. Hmm? What, my unending gratitude is not enough to survive?

I'll admit, I haven't been following my philosophy I proclaimed above. I've taken CalFlora for granted. CalFlora is indeed a better plant ID resource than any book I've ever purchased. I've discussed with my husband about donating to this valuable site because I do use it a lot, I trust it, and I'd love to see it continue being offered to the public. For those who are "professionals" you may want to request from your institution to pay the small sum asked by CalFlora. At the very least, go ahead and register so CalFlora can show there's interest in keeping the site alive.

Regardless of free, donations, or for a fee, I generally don't like sites that require you to register and provide e-mails and passwords and type in what you see in the funky-text box. So, apologies in advance to blog visitors if you suddenly find a link that requires registration. ALL embedded links I include on Nature ID should be free to use. If you ever find one that asks you to pay, please let me know!

If you can't tell already, I love the internet! I like being able to type in a few keywords and find information on just about anything from around the world. Often, I take these things for granted. Don't you? I forget that someone or many somebodies spent many hours to create these amazing websites. And, there are challenges in the offering that aren't always apparent from the outside.

Heavy sigh... additionally this week, I deleted a couple more blogs I follow when it became obvious to me they were inserting product placements within content, like cell phone providers. (Let me be clear, I do not mind if people use their blogs to promote their own businesses.) I've heard stories of these kinds of sly marketing tricks and don't believe they work very well. Seeing this in nature blogs feels somehow dishonest compared to obvious commercial sites. I suspect most savvy online folks can sense this deception whether they can express it or not. This underhandedness pisses me off to no end when I discover it.

So, with CalFlora requiring registration and these product-placing bloggers on two sides of the same coin, I wonder why I feel so differently about them. They're in essence both wanting money, right? Ha! Don't we all?

Continuing on this train of thought... a couple of friends have suggested I should try to make money from Nature ID. As if I could anyways. I shake my head and think that would somehow taint my pure joy of learning and sharing... and creating something of pride exactly the way I want and when I care to do it. It's a kind of freedom that probably exists only by my perception of it. I won't place any adverts here, because I don't like seeing them on other people's blogs. Really, who clicks on that ugly line-drawing of the shrinking woman? And, I'd guess that when you sign up for the "service" you don't get a choice of which ads get placed on your blog. Occasionally, I'll rave about a particular website (CalFlora), blog (John Wall), or book (BtB West) simply because I'm very impressed, not because I have any hidden agenda.

On a somewhat related note, all Nature ID and Kt's Nature ID companion photos are mine or my husband's. I try to be respectful and base my commentary on my own experiences, rather than quasi-quoting/summarizing other previously published information. Usually there's something better with more information, so I'll link to it instead of stealing it.

I see many bloggers out there who insert watermarks in the middle of their photos with strongly worded copyright notices. In the general spirit of a shared online community and my own beliefs, I prefer and would like to trust people. US copyright laws are in essence based on trust anyways, unless you have loads of cashola to pay lawyers to defend your claim. I've reluctantly included what I hope is a friendlier version of copyright claim, permissions, linking, and a way to contact me at the bottom of this blog.

As a result of my online exchanges this past week, I realized just how jaded I've become about participating online and creating my blogs. At what point when one tries to safeguard personal information and property does it become safeguarding against connecting and supporting people?

Just wondering and thinking out loud... my brain is hampered with an awful cold, so I'm more into navel gazing (to quote Bug Girl's Blog) than looking up owl's clover IDs this evening... And I'm still not sure where I was going with this post. Want to come along with me... quo vadimus?