Commentary: The ARS and the Internet
The Internet is one of fastest growing industries in the history of the world. Never has one single invention influenced so many people from all walks of life in such a short period of time. Neither has there been so much material available about the genus Rhododendron and its hybrids: how to grow them, where to find them, who the people are, where the places are to see them, and where to find the answers to our many unanswered questions about rhododendrons. And we, as those who are involved with and love these plants, have been swept into this rapidly growing system.
The American Rhododendron Society is taking an active part using the Internet capabilities. The Society has an electronic media committee and an electronic newsletter committee. In the last year it has established a Web site as well as a newsletter on the Internet, Rhododendron and Azalea News. Both are available, not only to our members but to the whole world. Several chapters of the Society have excellent sites. Many of our members maintain personal sites for people to enjoy. Some of our commercial members share their expertise and have better accessibility to the public with their own web sites. It is there for all to see. We can view pictures of rhododendrons, see lists of plants, order plants, read articles about exploration, culture, propagation, hybridization, gardens, collections, history of the plants, photography, ecology and environmental subjects among others. The information available to us is limited only by our imagination and ingenuity.
What is our responsibility? The purpose of the American Rhododendron Society is to encourage the interest in and disseminate information and knowledge of rhododendrons. Our non-profit status demands that we educate. The Society is to provide ways in which all persons interested in the genus may communicate with others through education, scientific studies, meetings, publications and other similar activities. It is our challenge to encourage the culture of rhododendrons (this includes azaleas) and to increase the general understanding and interest in all aspects of these plants. Just how can we do this? Is the Internet one way we can do so? It would seem so.
Betty Spady is the editor of Rhododendron and Azalea News.