The Future.....

Tue, 02 Oct 2012 15:54:20 PDT

On Oct 2, 2012, at 4:22 PM, "Leo A. Martin" <> wrote:

> I don't think the Internet per se is the problem. Satisfaction with
> superficiality is a problem. The Internet is capable of delivering
> detailed explanations of anything, if people would only write these
> explanations and somenbody wanted to read them.

The internet can be both the savior or demise of a plant society, depending on how a society utilizes it.  Information is so easily available but also so scattered and not always presented properly.  

For a plant society to survive it must use the internet and be the premier online source of information in that specialty. The goal of a society is to spread information, help like minded collectors connect, and cultivate new interest and new members.  Most people start with a simple interest in a plant type then become collectors once they are exposed to full range of that plant type.  Plant societies had always been the leaders in this, exposing their members to a whole other world revolving around their specialties.  An interest in one bulb leads to the realization  that there are numerous other spp, cultivars, and hybrids etc. 

The internet can do wonders in exposing a wider range of a plant specialty, but so often that presentation is so scattered it makes finding GOOD information difficult.   If a plant society's website and forum are THE best source online it will continue to bring like minded people together in a single community.  Potential new gardeners are more likely to join and grow their interest if they are presented with the entire wealth a specialty has to offer.  

On the other hand, if a society has a page with a couple photos, a tiny bit of info and membership dues it has already lost.  Numerous web forums exist.  Some are extremely good and full of experts and great growers etc. others are less useful but provide the basic info people may search for.  The latter surely aren't going to captivate anyone into taking gardening to the next level.   Even the better forums often compete with each other, and participation comes and goes and often follows whichever board is most active. 

A plant society should have the best forum and having a dedicated membership base helps prevent the inevitable lull in posting that often kills random forums on the web.  I think the open membership policy is the only way to go with forums and email lists.  Provide an incentive to become a dues paying member. 

The PBS provides a few great examples of how to keep a society going in this new age and also attracting new people to both the organization and specialty plants.   Do a google search on a bulb species.  Chances are the PBS wiki page for that species will pop up first or very close on the list.  This instantly gives people access to what they are looking for, pictures, good information, and it exposes them to a ton of related plants as well as the organization.  With bulb plants, PBS is extremely well represented in online searches. 

If a society's page comes up 50th on a search list, almost nobody will look at it.  The opportunity to captivate a new audience is lost.   No new members, no new gardeners, no inspiration, nothing. One can blame the Internet for this, or realize what needs to be done to continue in a new era and utilize it.   I think the need for plant societies is greater than ever, but so few have moved forward to realize that they must change to accomplish their goals.  The goals still exist, the need is still there, the delivery must change though.  

Tim Chapman

More information about the pbs mailing list