ANNOUNCING THE VERTEBRATE WORLD PROJECT
The Vertebrate World is a HyperCard stack that is designed to be a
database shell for the vertebrate animals. The database as planned
will eventually provide taxonomic, ecological, behavioral and
distribution information for thousands of species of vertebrates.
Digitized pictures of each species will be available, as well as
phylogenetic trees, sounds, QuickTime movies, and range maps for many
species. This will (obviously) require storage and distribution on
large capacity medium such as CD-ROM discs. Because of the size of
the database, and the relative scarcity of CD-ROM drives, my plan is
to allow this database to be customizable by individual instructors by
creating a 'master control' stack. The instructor can use this front
end to choose particular species for inclusion into self-running
subsets of the entire database. These can then be run from a hard
disk drive. For example, an instructor might select individual
species, or make inclusion criteria for species that correspond to
specified search terms, such as 'Birds of North Carolina' or
'Endangered Vertebrates of North America'. The master control would
then automatically generate a new HyperCard stack containing those
species' entries, and this user-generated stack could then be
distributed to students or copied onto hard drives in a microcomputer
lab. Various template stacks that automatically include only
information appropriate for use at particular education levels will be
provided, and these will be modifiable by the instructor.
THE VERTEBRATE WORLD PROJECT
As there are so many species of vertebrates, I would like to 'job out'
different segments of the project to different people. The Vertebrate
World Project will have several areas of potential contributions:
writing and editing the species accounts, constructing phylogenetic
data files, and locating and digitizing pictures, videos and sounds.
For example, one person might be in charge of writing the accounts of
the pinnepeds, another might collect and/or scan pictures of
Australian snakes, etc.
In return for these efforts, each person contributing a certain amount
of effort would obtain a copy of the finished product of their choice
(i.e., one disk from the series), as well as acknowledgement in the
documentation. Persons contributing a large amount of digitized or
(especially) original written material would be listed as co-authors
of the overall project.
I believe this is the best approach for us to take because it places
the responsibility for the stacks' contents in the hands of experts in
each taxon, and it prevents duplication of effort. I also think it
would be most worthwhile to be able to offer a complete set (perhaps
on several disks according to Class, with the possibilty of doing it
by subscription as new species are added). I think that this series
would be an excellent marketing tool for a publisher to convince
instructors to buy textbooks on ecology or vertebrate biol