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Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Myrmecos.net is 5 years old. It has grown from a few dozen photographs to about 4,000, and in recent years 1,500 people visit the site every day. In spite of the site’s high profile, myrmecos has not changed in any fundamental way since it first went online in 2003 (archived versions are accessible here). The pages are simple 1990’s technology, hand-written in html. There are no underlying databases, just scores of flat files stored in folders. If you do any web design you can imagine what a pain in the behind it is to manage a static site with thousands of individual html files.

It is time for an overhaul.

The Web 2.0 reincarnation of myrmecos will be built around a database, and it will be done professionally. Beyond that we have not yet settled on any details. To make the best of the redesign, I want the new version to incorporate suggestions from users of the site, so I’m especially keen to get feedback from you, the reader.

If you are a user of myrmecos.net, I would really, really appreciate hearing about what features you’d like in the new site. We are working from a blank slate, so we should be able to implement almost anything. Here are some possibilities:

  • Menu navigation
  • Slide show gallery views
  • Dynamic page generation from keywords
  • Comments
  • RSS feeds
  • Automated image licensing
  • A shopping cart/store
  • More direct interaction or data sharing with antweb, antbase, and other biodiversity sites
  • New color schemes/artistic designs
  • Any of your ideas that might make myrmecos easier to use

If you have database or web design experience I would also like to hear from you. I have been in contact with several programmers/designers over the last few months, but I’ve not yet finalized a contract with anyone for the job. If this project appeals to you, or if you just have relevant words of advice, drop me a line.

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If you watch this video about a new technology for visualizing insect fossils hidden in opaque amber, pay special attention around 0:36-0:44. There’s a brief 3D image of what is clearly a well-preserved sphecomyrmine ant. The clip is excerpted from a detailed demonstration here, showing the insect in all its glory (warning: 57MB!). It’s among the most detailed glimpses of a Sphecomyrmine yet.

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