Rural System, Inc.
 Sustained rural lands; sustained profits

The Rural Knowledge Base

Formerly The WKB: The Wildland Knowledge Base

A clear map of what is known frames the most productive questions for the future.

Books and other storage mediaProviding knowledge for today's difficult land-related decisions is the work of the RKB.

As we look at conditions and past decisions, we often say that we "knew" something. We really "knew" only if filing cabinets and databases can think and talk.

George Friedman, 2004, America's Secret War, p. 78   

Having its own unique computer data-bases, it is also linked internationally to provide data analyses, bibliographies, cutting-edge access to reports, reports and briefs, unique searches, and translations in leading foreign libraries, and innovative work to gain knowledge of workers, retirees, indigenous people, and others in new ways. We move research findings into decisions and action.

Rural System, Inc. is in business to improve the way that natural resource decisions are made. We know that there are many forces operating in any decision making system. We even see the decision as a system. One requirement for all decisions is that they require information. They need inputs of all kinds - anecdotes, observations, assumptions, and the "hard stuff" - data synthesized and processed so that it is useful. "Useful" means that it fits right into the typical, final, difficult act of deciding.

We've done research for years and have been frustrated that our results have not gone out into decisions. We've done comprehensive, sophisticated literature reviews and while they have been useful to a few people, they have never been widely used. The Internet presents new resources to many people but there is now so much available that specialized knowledge and searching skills are needed for using the new medium that was to open knowledge to everyone.

We can now address problems and needs that we believe exist throughout the natural resource field --throughout the world. That need is for supplying the best knowledge available for the decisions being made that affect land use and natural resources, particularly the wildlands.

We operate on the basis that there is a great amount of knowledge available for natural resource decision-making. It is not being used at all in some cases and not well in others. One reason is that it is not processed well, but another is that its existence is not even known. The Rural Knowledge Base, the RKB, is a knowledge system about natural resource knowledge. We know where knowledge is and can help individuals, corporations, and agencies find it, or we find if for them. We have build unique knowledge bases and practical models to use knowledge for certain field situations.

The RKB exists to expedite observations into knowledge and knowledge into use in the wide ranging fields of land use and natural resource management. Premises upon which the company works are:

  1. Observations can be improved.
  2. Analyses of observations can be improved and expedited.
  3. Wastes in unproductive past studies can be reduced
  4. Vast knowledge about natural resources and land is now available and needs to be used.
  5. People are now swamped by data and information and methods are available to overcome this problem.
  6. Improving processing of data and information is as important as gaining more observations or data.
  7. Much knowledge exists in other countries.
  8. Science is only one pathway to knowledge; there are others, especially when time, funds, labor, or available energy are limited to species or conditions endangered.
  9. Expert knowledge is a treasured resource.
  10. Knowledge can often be captured in numbers or equations expressing relations and used in models.
  11. Knowledge is often adequate. No more studies will improve the certainty of a statement because systems are naturally variable.
  12. Using knowledge is part of the knowledge-building process. Use helps in testing (invalidation) and correcting current perceptions of truth.
  13. Knowledge formats (such as those of the Modern Language Association) are very important
  14. Knowledge can be improved if spatial and temporal factors are used with it.

We are in the knowledge business. We have massive, unique knowledge bases, unique collections, proprietary knowledge of other bases, access to vast information resources, and efficient procedures. We are dedicated natural resource specialists working with equally dedicated information system scientists and others to bring knowledge cost-effectively into use on the land. The RKB is devoted to using knowledge gained in the past to improve natural resource and related wildland decisions. Fully aware that all natural resource decisions are not made based only on knowledge about the system and consequences of a decision, the staff of The RKB is committed to increasing the role of knowledge in decisions. Without it, other forces can have a strong hand. We are committed to such knowledge, at least, having its rightful place at the decision table.

We offer services for a price. We can provide in a timely fashion comprehensive reports in select areas of natural resources and the wildland topics. These are well-written summary and analytical reports by our superior staff. The reports are backed up by computer-aided literature searches, access to a large private library, access to national library sources, and, in some cases, to interviews of experts and folk authorities.

We have access to a modern university library, home of the internationally known VTLS (Virginia Tech Library System) that has virtually replaced the card catalog and allowed improved access to library resources.

We have major Internet linkages:

We provide:

  1. An expert registry
  2. A library research group to provide rapid library studies
  3. Bibliographies on any natural resource topic
  4. Access to fauna databases
  5. Access to plant databases
  6. Key source discoveries and article finding and delivery
  7. Data processing-converting data to information by modern computer-based procedures.
  8. Access to the Rural System, Inc. library
  9. Access to expert knowledge bases
  10. Access to maps (traditional ones, from Landsat, SPOT and select areas,
  11. Access to photographs, movie, and TV clips (e.g., for multimedia work)
  12. Unique electronic "publications" which we call "chunks."

We can pump data into our hand-held computer with a global positioning satellite unit in the forest stand via cellular phone to a data receiver, then directly into a statistical analysis package. The results, once in a file, are fed into a text file which in final form with color maps, goes over the Internet to a corporate headquarters where a land sale decision is being made.

This unusual new flow of knowledge (field observation to decision in a day) is of interest and we can and will gladly provide such services but we have many other more well-known capabilities for rich returns from the world's knowledge stores because we have:

The Market

We propose typically to serve:

Our work is done in 3-stages. It is rare that customers appreciate how much time they personally spend in literature searches or, frankly, the worth of their personal time. (If a person making $28,000 a year works for 200 days a year, they have to be worth at least $17.50 per hours.) A week in the library can amount to high costs to an agency or to a client. Ability to cut costs or outbid a competitor makes use of The RKB services essential. The 3 stages are needed because we need to show you what you get for fees charged at each level; you need to see what you get (and assess how much more you need); and you need to judge the potentials of our group to meet your real needs (which only you can appraise.)

We have a base charge. This pays for administration, analysis of the request, and a preliminary search. (We may find nothing, but you will be told where we looked and that in itself is worth a lot to the serious worker-and risk taker.) We then estimate the work and costs likely in each level. This is no more than rational bidding, seeking to meet your needs rapidly at reasonable costs. (A expedited service including fax, e-mail and courier service is available.) In some cases, only level 1 or 2 service will be suggested based on the apparent knowledge available.

A RKB team will conduct interviews and several unique Delphi-based analyses (expert consultations toward consensus) are also available.

Our services are discrete and we follow a strict code of privacy and confidentiality. Our staff are pledged to support client interests and to non-disclosure, except as permitted.

Some of our studies over time are published as Rural System, Inc. documents. When a request is made and it can be answered by an in-house document already available, this document will be supplied at cost and no other fees will be charged.

Our services increase. Savings in costs of searches previously made are passed on to customers. We can arrange for major tax deductions and gift benefits for personal natural resource libraries that are contributed to the Virginia Tech Foundation for use in Rural System, Inc.

To The Customer

Here's are some ideas about what we can do together...

  1. Just write or call. Much work needs to be personally and carefully done to meet your needs. Have an idea? We'll try to help.
  2. Call us for a bibliography, for example, on Lyme disease.
  3. Subscribe to RKB's Seek/Find service. You subscribe, fill in a list of topics on which you work and we'll alert you to new articles in your field(s). You may then order the article(s) and we'll fax, e-mail, or send them by conventional mail.
  4. Order a report on a topic of interest, for example, the characteristics of warm-season grasses.
  5. Clear the file. Convert that old data set into some useful statistics. We'll enter data, analyze it appropriately, and give you a report. You can write it up. We'll also do the front-end "literature review", almost impossible for the person in the remote field station.
  6. Let us show you how to use the wildlife information systems that now exist in 20 states. Jeff L. Waldon, a Principal within the RKB, has promoted wildlife information systems throughout the U.S. and world and (a) can assist any state or nation in creating a wildlife information system, or (b) the RKB can provide a cost-effective alternative: a privatized central service for individuals or several states operating in a consortium.
  7. Need an expert(s) on Topic X? We'll send you a list that you can contact for availability, fees, and ability to meet your specific needs.
  8. Use our unique knowledge bases on:
    • tropical birds
    • bobcats
    • white-tailed deer
    • the eastern wild turkey
    • the eastern deciduous forest
    • abiotic factors in eastern U.S. ecological communities
    • garden plants
    • wildlife food plants
    • butterfly gardens
    • vertebrate pest damage
    • birds of the eastern U.S. and others under development.

We have excellent contacts for local work in India, People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Nigeria, Senegal, and Columbia.

We customize our services to your needs. The range of services that we can supply are:

  1. Providing assistance in study design
  2. Performing statistical analyses
  3. Preparing computer maps
  4. Cleaning files - moving the thousands of dollars spent on studies into notes and reports
  5. Preparing select bibliographies
  6. Keeping you up-to-date on publications in your area (lists or actual article reprints)
  7. Preparing literature reviews for research proposals or projects
  8. Preparing timely background reports for court cases
  9. Answering site-specific questions (millions) about wildlife
  10. Preparing a book on a select topic as a memorial to a loved one or as a grand gift to a family member or corporate leader
  11. Gaining literature and translations from select other countries
  12. Putting you in touch with world-class experts on a topic
  13. Delivering comprehensive environmental plans from The Trevey, documents that synthesize knowledge
  14. Preparing unique area-specific computer maps
  15. Preparing indigenous-people and folk knowledge surveys
  16. Developing computer models of managerial relevance.

We do little work in chemistry, physics, or the arts. Our work in law is limited to those laws relevant to a natural resource topic, rarely case law. Our interests and abilities span those of the large modern Land-Grant University. We welcome inquiries.

We can provide electronic delivery. We guarantee responses and have unique crisis teams to prepare materials in unbelievable periods.

We are a for-profit group but we are operating to improve decisions, to reduce the waste, "grief", and costs of hours and hours spent in often-ineffective library searches. We're in the business to reduce duplication, to increase effective replication of studies, to assist in directing future studies, to prevent the loss of data and information gained at such high costs.

We are growing in our capabilities in developing formal "expert systems" and in artificial intelligence. We operate with EXSYS expert system shell and two other types of software with expert system configuration, CRITERIUM, and AskSam.

We invite donations of library resources from natural resource specialists to our growing knowledge base. We invite cooperative involvement of companies developing improved library and information equipment and services. We can be a testing and prototype development center. We are proud that our library searches, our specially-trained staff, are usually enrolled in a university program in natural resources. They benefit financially to assist in the high costs of their education, they learn, and also become more competent employees for future corporations and agencies.

We propose to study and participate in aggregated Internet-based scientific journals

See Giles notes on Information Needed.

See and contact for help or suggestions: Jonathan Adams ( 703 841-5322) or Frank Biasi ( 703 841 4518) for more information.

See special article source.

See: The new web site (2003), BiologyBrowser ( that features a database of more than 13,000 web sites in the life sciences. You can search this database by keywords, knowing that each site has been quality-checked by BIOSIS employees to assure that they maintain valuable content.

Knowledge is power

Market Analysis

Rapid changes in agency structure, the rise of consulting services for agencies, and reduced research funding has created new needs for rapid delivery of information.

Libraries under financial pressure need use-rates as part of their accountability documents.

Wildland enterprises arise and competition forces them to seek new or different sources of information.

The U.S. Forest Service Information Center at Athens, Georgia, has more requests than they can meet and are willing to relay some of these.

Several corporations have their own library service centers but agencies have been unable to stabilize the libraries of the size, diversity, and complexity to meet wildland resource personnel needs. There are needs for information that are not being met, so the "need" is ignored. The market appears to be large, but unknown, because of the impediments in the past and the electronic media now available for delivery.

An email received in January, 2000 :

From: Susan Musante
To: Natural Resources Librarians List

List Subscribers,

I work at the Ecological Society of America and I am assisting in coordinating a new cluster of ecology and botany titles to be offered through the JSTOR archive.

JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping the scholarly community take advantage of advances in electronic technology. JSTOR is creating an archive of the back files of core scholarly journals and improved access to those back files (for more information about JSTOR: ).

The note suggests only one relatively new source for rapid access and delivery of information to the field for modest costs.

The product factsheet for the Agricultural Information Resource Centers - A World Directory 2000 is now available. NISC's BiblioLine internet search service permits searching of many database fields separately or in any combination.

Contact Brian Erb, reference librarian at the John C. Well Library on the campus of UVa-Wise (competitive runner)

Agricultural summary information for the entire state of Virginia and other states is now available.


Development costs are estimated as $100,000.

The anticipated markets and gross annual income:

  • Pessimistic
    50 (estimate i.e., 1/week)@ $1,000 (average)....$55,000
  • Likely
    200 @800 ..............$160,000
  • Optimistic
    300 .......... $450,000

    Costs will relate to the role of the RKB in serving other aspects of the Rural System, Inc. development. The "Pessimistic" option is a break-even venture; "Likely" is profitable, especially since it will support at low-costs the other development in Rural System, Inc.. The "Optimistic" estimate is not "maximum" but believed reasonable within 2 years with quality advertising and promotion.

    Marketing and Sales Activities

    The clients have been listed above. The advertising will be:

    Operations and Organization

    Rural System, Inc hires a manager. University Library faculty (two have expressed interest) serve as consultants.

    University students and others are employed as searchers/writers.

    Affiliations with information providers is begun.

    Affiliation with NTIS is established.

    A distinctive team procedure developed by Giles is used with standard formats, citations, word processing, file management, and editing.

    Progressively lowered costs are expected as a system of effective library searching, use, note-taking, scanning, and processing is developed.

    Reports are reviewed for clarity and format by a senior staff member before being sent.

    Marketing is by the marketing group of Rural System, Inc until expansion within the RKB seems needed. We customize our services to your needs. The range of services that we can supply are

    1. Providing assistance in study design.
    2. Performing statistical analyses.
    3. Preparing computer maps.
    4. Cleaning files -- moving the thousands of dollars spent on studies into notes and reports.
    5. Preparing select bibliographies.
    6. Keeping you up-to-date on publications in your area (lists or actual article reprints)
    7. Preparing literature reviews for research proposals or projects.
    8. Preparing timely background reports for court cases.
    9. Answering site-specific questions (millions) about wildlife.
    10. Preparing a book on a select topic as a memorial to a loved one or as a grand gift to a family member or corporate leader.
    11. Gaining literature and translations from select other countries.
    12. Putting you in touch with world-class experts on a topic.
    13. Delivering comprehensive environmental plans from Guidance, documents that synthesize knowledge.
    14. Preparing unique area-specific computer maps.
    15. Preparing indigenous-people and folk knowledge surveys.
    16. Developing computer models of managerial relevance.

    We do little work in chemistry, physics, or the arts. Our work in law is limited to those laws relevant to a natural resource topic, rarely case law. See #8. Our interests and abilities span those of a large modern Land-Grant University. We welcome inquiries.

    We can provide electronic delivery. We guarantee timely responses and have unique crisis teams to prepare materials in unbelievable periods. Robert H. Giles, Jr. 504 Rose Avenue, Blacksburg, VA 24060 Nov.28, 2001

    Book sources: listed by a person (2003) for finding the book Game Management:

    The librarian at Western State College was able to find the book through Yankee Book Peddler (can find them via a Google Search). But this is a library service so won't help an individual. The book he found was paperback and cost $24.95.

    Other suggestions I received from the list: (this one received much praise in general as a book finding service)
    Barnes and Noble
    Strands Books
    and many people suggested University of Wisconsin Press.

    See online NRC Canada online articles

    Abuzz may offer anternative ways to connect people with questions to answers.

    See The Conservation Directory - For more information and to order, visit or call 1-800-828-1302.

    If you are interested in learning more about any of these partnering opportunities, or interested in proposing a strategic business development arrangement that is not otherwise described above, please forward an email to In your email, please include your name, contact information (including company name and your title), a brief description of the partner program that you would like to propose and the best hours in which to reach you. As partners are very important to, a business development associate will be in contact with you promptly.

    Goto budget estimate.

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    Perhaps you will share ideas with me
    about some of the topic(s) above at

    Maybe we can work together
    ... for the good of us all
    ... for a long time.

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