While reading the Sunday paper today one article in particular caught my eye. Scientists unveil new mobile app to identify trees. Leafsnap excites users and students. It sounds like an exciting new product from the Smithsonian. If you are out hiking or just looking around your neighborhood and you come across a tree or plant that you can't identify, all you have to do is take a picture of it. This application on your phone will process it and tell you what it is.
It sounds wonderful. That is until you read the fine print. Yes you will be able to learn the plant diversity in your yard or park. So will everyone else. You see, once you take the picture, the new phone will identify where the plant is so it will be able to be mapped! I had concerns about mapping trees when I found a group that was mapping "foraging" trees in neighborhoods. This takes it a step further. The research biologist with the Smithsonian, John Kress stated, "This is going to be able to populate a database of every tree in the United States. I mean that's millions and millions and millions of trees, so that would be really neat." Really scary. Stay out of my yard.