From: <tweeters-bounces...> <tweeters-bounces...> on behalf of Dennis Paulson <dennispaulson...>
Sent: Monday, November 6, 2017 12:58:49 PM
To: TWEETERS tweeters
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] The Future of Bird ID
As a person who has taught bird classes for decades, I agree so strongly with Chris Kessler. I shudder at the thought of birders just Merlining everything they see (and yes, of course it will become a verb). What’s the challenge in that? Bird ID is a challenge, but it is a much more fun and educational one than many of the other challenges in our lives for which we are grateful for technological help. Ever since the original (somewhat dubious) technological advance—the electric can opener—we have become more and more dependent on things that just may go wrong when we need them. Think of becoming dependent on Merlin and then losing your smartphone just as something weird turns up. OMG. I’m sure many people nowadays can’t imagine any other way of opening a can, and to extend the analogy, I would be very sad at people spending STILL more time on their smartphones when out in nature.
And as a person who has seen birding jargon transmogrify not only the language (twitching and dipping and gripping and crippling and other terms obscure to the poor beginner) but also even bird names over those many years, I agree wholeheartedly with Bud Anderson! Don’t birds deserve the respect of a full name, or at least part of their actual name (e.g., Bonaparte’s instead of Boney, yellow-rump instead of butterbutt)? Jargon can be inclusive if you are “in” but divisive if you’re not.
not to be outdone in curmudgeonliness
This sounds like very impressive, and very "cool," software, and software
that would come in handy at times for all of us. But I wonder about the
effect over time of such tools on our ability to make those ID decisions in
the field ourselves -- to really "know" the birds. The more we rely on
such tools, the less we use our own analytical capabilities, and the less
we use them, the more they atrophy.
I have experienced this myself with navigational skills -- at 14 years old
(about 1962) I was expert with a compass & a topo map -- I could bushwhack
across the mountains of western Virginia with confidence and accuracy.
While I can still to some degree navigate (for example, in my car) by dead
reckoning (paper maps are largely a thing of the past), frequent reliance
on GPS & cellphone software has led me to become less capable (and less
confident) in my navigational skills, even on roads.
Technology may help us "master" nature, but it can also make us less "in"
nature, which is a big part of why many of us bird in the first place. Not
an objection to the software, just a thought about how to use it.