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History of Mineralienatlas

From homepage to geological portal

Looking for a new challenge, plus a desire to combine his two hobbies together, lead computer expert Stefan Schorn to create his first website in 1999. He exhibited a few pieces from his collection on the internet, still sailing under the family domain name, and when free forum software became availability, he established his first forum for exchanging ideas and offered a small collection of data.

In May 2001, Stefan developed the idea of getting Mineralienatlas its own domain and www.Mineralienatlas.de was born on June 1st 2001.

Mineralienatlas 2001
Mineralienatlas 2001

Mineralienatlas Historie 2001

Stefan

The following year was characterised by a long virtual drought with only a few stable visitors. But the magic of "wiki", a system allowing communal work on documents, gave a new dynamic and impetus for growth. Every mineral and every locality got its own page. (Universally known sites like Wikipedia likewise function on this “wiki” principal.)

Mineralienatlas 2002
Mineralienatlas 2002

Mineralienatlas Historie 2002

Stefan

Its growing popularity became the curse of Mineralienatlas. The innumerable mineral and locality pages required ever increasing attention and the number of errors grew along with each new addition. It became urgent to find new ways of channeling the flood of information and to automatise repetitive activity.

Mineralienatlas 2003
Mineralienatlas 2003

Mineralienatlas Historie 2003

Stefan

Individual users helped guide the massive stream of contributions in useful directions. And so the circle of moderators and administrators was born and have accompanied Mineralienatlas almost from its birth.

The appearance of the internet presence was modified several times. By the beginning of 2005, 10,000 pages had already found their way into the Lexicon. By the end of 2005 there were already 17,000. The server on which Mineralienatlas ran had to be upgraded several times to keep up with the rising demands placed on it.

Mineralienatlas 2004
Mineralienatlas 2004

Mineralienatlas Historie Ende 2004

Stefan

For those who wanted to use Mineralienatlas even when no internet connection was available, the first Mineralienatlas CD was published, with the whole database contents as of June 2005, and sold at production cost. Mineralienatlas welcomed its thousandth registered member in October that same year, and Mark Holtkamp donated the „smorf“ software to Mineralienatlas, a program for the 3D depiction of minerals, enabling crystals, mainly from the classic „Atlas der Krystallformen" by V.M. Goldschmidt, to be better visualised.

In 2006 a chat capability for live discussions was incorporated into Mineralienatlas. In January, owing to the much larger quantity of data, Mineralienatlas was published on DVD for the first time, then in June the even larger second DVD which, because of the now enormous and ever-growing amount of data, was the last time Mineralienatlas was made available in hard copy.

Mineralienatlas 2005
Mineralienatlas 2005

Mineralienatlas Historie Mitte 2005

Stefan

In October the first Mineralienatlas book was printed: Mineralienportraits (“Mineral Portraits”), volume 1. On its 160 pages the well known mineral collector and Mineralienatlas moderator Peter Seroka presents impressive descriptions of individual minerals.

At the beginning of 2007 the most important developments to date for Mineralienatlas were programmed. Separate mineral species and locality databases and a media library would simplify the management and uploading of photos. A nerve wrecking and time consuming process of data import began. Individual pages had to be re-formatted, contents redistributed and uploaded. Photos and photo captions had to be integrated. Our members struggled tirelessly to get the job done.

Now it is possible with just a mouse click to do things like get an overview of all the minerals in a district, all localities for a mineral, all mineral photos from a region, or all anatases from the Black Forest, for example.

Mineralienatlas achieved first place in the Giga and T-Online Homepage Award for 1st place in the category of schools, higher education and training out of 8,000 participating websites, and 3rd place in all categories overall, which lead to Stefan Schorn and Erik Hock being invited to introduce Mineralienatlas on the Giga-TV television channel.

Peter’s superb professional knowledge, along with the enormous photographic resources of Mineralienatlas enabled Volume 2 of “Mineral Portaits” to be published in printed format in mid-2007.

Mineralienatlas 2006
Mineralienatlas 2006

Mineralienatlas Historie Mitte 2006

Stefan

In 2008 and 2009 fossils and rocks were added to the database too. Fossils can be taxonomically structured, and rocks can be classified on several different levels. Localities can be shown on regional maps or downloaded to a GPS device. A variety of photo viewing techniques and slide show capabilities have been incorporated. The ability to search by properties eases mineral identification. A containment by locality has been enabled. Mineralienatlas became multilingual and menus and some parts of the contents are now available in english.

Mineralienatlas Mobil 2010
Mineralienatlas Mobil 2010

Ausschnitt aus der Mobilansicht des Mineralienatlas 2010

Stefan

The Munich Micromounters, a working group of the Munich Friends of Mineralogy society, uses Mineralienatlas to exhibit their impressive Lithothek collection, making the Lithothek’s information available to the public, and to keep in contact with other collectors.

Unfortunately there are a few negative factors that need to be considered too. The very large numbers of users, combined with anonimity, provided some egoists and agitators with a public stage from which to disseminate their quarrels. This lead to a reduction in quality of the Forum posts and discouraged participation by professionals. The end result was that a few individual members had to be banished from contributing, and the right to anonimity within Mineralienatlas was rescinded. This heightened inhibition threshold put the brakes on excessively rapid growth and shifted the emphasis more towards increased quality. The motto “class instead of mass” was successful. To facilitate faster reaction to errors as well as to enable feedback from users, a discussion function is now offered on every Lexicon page. The ability to make changes and correct errors keeps Mineralienatlas in harmony with the most recent information. The history for all changes is stored and so can be tracked.

Another change of server early in 2009 gave new speed to Mineralienatlas, which currently runs on 8 processors and a 16 gigabyte working memory, which is far more processing capacity than some companies with 50 employees would need!

Always on the lookout for useful new capabilities, in October 2010 Mineralienatlas inaugurated http://m.mineralienatlas.de where mineral information can be accessed with short download times via mobile devices like Android or the iPhone. As of early 2011, localities, fossils and rocks can also be accessed in mobile versions. With appropriate smartphones or laptops with GPS modules (satellite navigators), localities in the immediate surrounding area can be indicated and even automatically updated while driving – a cutting-edge technology not yet available on any other mineral locality databank.

A team of 12 enthusiasts oversees the needs of Mineralienatlas. The team includes a very varied mix of ages and interests, although the one thing that all of them have in common is a passionate interest in geology. In chronological order they are: (2001) Stefan Schorn; (2002) Conrad Linde; (2003) Erik Hock; (2004) Philip Blümner, Thomas Uhlig, Volker Annacker, and Peter Seroka; (2005) Rainer Albert, Andreas Brand, and Norbert Kirchhoff; (2006) Diether Gräf and Daniel Lunau.

In order to provide all this knowledge free of charge to users, the site accepts money from commercial sponsors and also gets voluntary donations from individual members and visitors.

Mineralienatlas end of 2011
Mineralienatlas end of 2011

Mineralienatlas Historie end of 2011

Stefan