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BowerBird – Australia’s first social science website

BowerBird is Australia’s first social science website and iPhone App which has been developed at Museum Victoria with funding from ALA (Atlas of Living Australia.) The essence of BowerBird is as follows. Groups or individuals (ie. community or scientific) can create Organisations and/or Projects. There are no links between Organisations and Projects – they operate independently. Organisations provide a contact point for members of the Organisation. Members can send around “News Items” to all other members advising them of upcoming meetings or field trips or new members or new discoveries etc. Projects are the core of BowerBird. Projects are designed for members to upload and publish observations (ie. Images, Sound files or Video links). Anyone can join or leave a Project at any time. Once an observation is published, any member of the Project can offer an identification or add a species description or create tags or make general comments they have observed about the species. Any member of the Project can offer alternative identifications or help to improve the species description or add observational comments of their own. Any member of the Project can vote for which identification they believe is correct as well as voting for the image(s) itself and any of the added descriptions or comments. Finally, any BowerBird user can follow the image/observation collection created by any other member. In this way, members can decide not to use Organisations or Projects and just to have their own set of observations that others follow.

Most websites stop at the upload the image and add a comment. BowerBird provides a fully social, interactive experience for every observation made.

BowerBird has a powerful identification module which contains the scientific and common names for almost 210,000 species from all known Australian life – Animals, Plants, Fungi, Bacteria, Protozoa and Chromista.

BowerBird went live in the first week of February, 2013.

For more information, please contact Ken Walker kwalker@museum.vic.gov.au

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