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What’s On Your iPod?

June 21, 2010Patrick NunnallyRivers, UncategorizedComments Off on What’s On Your iPod?

I hear that this is something people ask each other these days, when getting acquainted, and that sometimes celebrities are asked about this in interviews.

I won’t bore you with what’s on my iPod, but I do want to tie this general question to a larger problem in learning about rivers by suggesting a new question for river geeks:

What’s on your iGoogle?

iGoogle is this thing (there has to be a more technical term) that allows me to call up a web page that contains links to pages that I want to track regularly.   I’m sure there are lots of ways to do this, but this is the one that I’ve learned.

So what’s on my iGoogle, pertaining to rivers?   For a sampler:

  • Hanalei Watershed Hui
  • Confluence Greenway
  • Freshwater Society
  • Circle of Blue
  • River Sphere
  • Green City, Blue Lake
  • River-cities.net
  • International Rivers
  • the urban planner, Gordon Price

(I know, it’s a terrible faux pas to give these to you without links, but I have a plane to catch and I’m not real adept at the whole “making links live” thing yet.  Mea culpa.)

I have recently written about Allies: media/art, Northeast-Midwest Institute, the Great Rivers Partnership, and American Rivers, so won’t go into them again, even though they are on my  iGoogle.

Of course, there are other sites, programs, and projects that I track, including those of our program’s key partners, both on and off campus.   But this gives you an idea of how diverse the sources of knowledge for river sustainability are.

So what?   Who cares what web sites I look at regularly?   If you can bear with me and accept that I’m someone who thinks about river management and sustainability a lot, and tries to do so somewhat systematically, here’s the argument that I would make:

Future river managers are going to need to know something about a river-related scientific field such as fluvial ecology, geomorphology, and the like.   But I think they will also need to know something about river-oriented policy, planning, and/or design, because all the scientific knowledge in the world isn’t any good if laws, planning/design frameworks, and management aren’t in alignment with scientific insights.   Finally, if you can’t convince the public, or at least some segment of it, of the importance of your cause, you’ll not have much impact.   So river managers are going to need to know something of programming, education, history, the myths and narratives that connect us to rivers.

We all know that it’s hard enough to learn one field, much less be conversant in all of the areas outlined above.   The professional practices and academic disciplines encompassed by “river studies” stretch across all parts of a university and engage many professions, agencies, and non-profit groups.   It would be easiest to keep up only with the ones we know best.

It would be easiest, but it would not be sufficient for a competent 21st century river manager and leader.   If we all need to know everything, then a first step on that (impossible) task is to make certain web sites, full of key information and cutting-edge knowledge and practice, readily available.   Hence my iGoogle.

I will elaborate more on some of the sites and programs listed above in the coming days and weeks.   In the meantime, send me your candidates, what you read and who you keep up with on a regular basis, even (especially) if the work is not directly focused on the Mississippi.   One of the precepts of the “wired world,” after all, is that we’re all in the web together!

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