Brown Bag Series goes green

By Alexa Woronowicz

Correspondent

This week’s Brown Bag Series focused on a rising environmental project, Noah, co-created by College alumnus Bruno Kruse. During his lecture in the Mildred & Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall Thursday Oct. 7, Kruse explained the purpose of Noah, short for Networked Organisms and Habitats, and how someone can participate.

Project Noah stemmed from the idea of combining nature and current mobile technology to increase awareness about our surroundings.

“The goal is to become the common mobile platform for documenting the world’s organisms,” Kruse said, who was an interactive multimedia major.

Ordinary people can take part in scientific research by downloading the Project Noah application on their iPhone or by signing up for the Web site, networkedorganisms.com. A form of citizen journalism for science, Noah is a simple way of bringing information to the masses.

“We’re trying to raise Eco IQ and eco-literacy,” Kruse said.

Kruse recognized that the younger generation has become too dependent on technology, so he vows to have “no child left inside.”

“We want to get kids back out into nature and exploring,” he said.

To allow users easy access, the format of Noah is relatively straightforward. Once a user creates a profile on My Noah, he or she can choose which way to use the program. The Field Guide utilizes the database of organisms to show the different types of species in the user’s area, a good way to begin familiarizing with what is already nearby.

“A lot of people using this have never been in contact with nature,” Kruse said.

The Spotting Screen lets users upload photos of any organism to the database under a category such as plant, mammal or bird, where others can view the submission. Since the pictures are public, anyone can help identify the species and send the information to relevant organizations.

It generally takes around five minutes to submit a spotting, but ranges depending on the person. Scientists will usually take more time to include details, but Kruse said he is often less specific.

“I’ll upload a picture of a bear and my description will be like ‘Run!’” he said.

In a third setting of Noah, you can pick a mission, which uses spottings to help current projects, like The Lost Ladybug Project and Mushroom Mapping. Project Noah is currently asking citizens to collect data on the wildlife endangered by the Gulf Coast Oil Spill.

Though Noah was originally designed as a homework assignment for a class Kruse took during his graduate studies at New York University, it has rapidly grown in popularity. Over 42 countries now contribute to the project, which recently earned a sponsorship from National Geographic.

“It’s really refreshing that they bring back alumni from IMM … to see them doing amazing things with it,” said Jen Hurler, junior interactive multimedia major.