It sounds like a premise for a bad M. Night Shyamalan movie: a tree that broadcasts its activities and “feelings” across social networks. But in fact it’s reality. Is the world ready for a tree that tweets?
Over at Vagabondish, Mike Richards writes about chattiest arboreal plant in the world, a 100-year-old tree on the edge of Brussels that is hooked up to “a fine dust meter, ozone meter, light meter, weather station, webcam and microphone. [The] equipment constantly measures the tree’s living circumstances. And translates this information into human language. Then, the tree lets the world know how he feels.” At Talking Tree, visitors can get updates on the tree’s current state, and follow the tree on Twitter and Facebook.
So what’s the purpose of this effort to train a super-species of wordy trees that are certain to dominate us all? On the tree’s Vimeo page, the folks behind the project explain it thus:
Everybody has an opinion on Nature. But what about Nature’s opinion? EOS magazine decided to give Nature the means to talk.
Granted, the methodology is a bit questionable—how can a computer truly articulate how a tree “feels”? (And what does that actually mean?) But as an experiment integrating the natural world into the online sphere, it’s pretty neat. In addition, projects such as this provide a useful reminder that an impossibly vibrant and diverse world exists outside of the 3-inch glowing screens of our smartphones. We’re sharing the planet with countless species, and they’re just as reliant on the elements, the environment, and the resources that we all share.