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Posted by on Jun 23, 2011

Plant videos and >500,000 views: personal>ephemeral


Why do I consider this to be one of my greatest professional achievements? This page of videos from various botanical organizations throughout the world taken on inexpensive (and now obsolete) Flip cameras? Taken of seemingly staid subjects (plant taxonomy) by and of people rarely filmed. Is it the fact that they are relatively tangible, almost discete units of actual output? Having worked so long in the ephemerality of communications and education, am I grasping at something with more legacy as it were?

Is it because it is just so human and global, stretching from Nepal to Kenya to Sweden to Panama and Buenos Aires and beyond? What is it with video that is so immediate and generally a form of media that I tend to disregard aside from simple entertainment? Is it because I actually edited them, repurporsed them, stamped them a bit with my own meager imprint?

I honestly don’t know, but judging by the views (>500,000), someone else seems to agree that science is human, personal, clumsy, and engaging. And people talking about what it is they do, what it is that moves them, drives them, is just a beautiful thing. Especially <3 minutes at a time. The full page can be found at all >35 of them (you see a theme here with the < and > everywhere).

Some of my personal favorites:

  • Our partners at the National Herbarium of Nepal (KATH) in Kathmandu walking us through their facilities and scanning to their heart’s content. Lovely people:

  • My colleague and friend, Dr. Siro Masinde of the National Museums of Kenya, in this video discusses succulent plants of East Africa, how they came around to storing so much moisture, and how adaptable they are to hostile environments.The particular plants he discusses are Pyrenacantha malvifolia, family Icacinaceae; Adenia globosa, family Passifloraceae; Cyphostemma jiguu, family Vitaceae. Dr. Siro Masinde has been a long-time member of the Global Plants Initiative (​page/​plants/​about/​partners.jsp) as well as gifted botanist in his own right (and a stalwart traveling companion throughout Africa, Ann Arbor, and beyond). He expains the video, as he does everything, with such care and concern. A champion among men, that Siro Masinde is. 

  • Norman Sebonego of Botswana at the eLearning Africa 2010 Conference in Lusaka, Zambia. I had the chance of meeting him again at eLearning Africa 2011 recently in Dar es Salaam and Norman is exactly how the video presents him: one passionate, articulate guy. Not the last you will hear from this guy. 


So not exactly a body of work that will earn me an Oscar, but one that I take great satisfaction in. It is a document of sorts and it chronicles our work, pulling out the human bits we all seem to gravitate to. 

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