[Tweeters] vBird: Birding beyond the crowds...
J Christian Kessler
1northraven at gmail.com
Fri Apr 1 09:23:43 PDT 2022
when I got up this morning, got a cup of coffee, and opened my computer,
first thing I did was look for a "message of the day" from you. Thank you,
once again, an amusing riff on ourselves ...
as I got towards the end, I started to wonder if you might weave the ABA
into the competition theme ...
On Fri, Apr 1, 2022 at 5:11 AM Matt Bartels <mattxyz at earthlink.net> wrote:
> For years now, eBird has been revolutionizing birding. The work of the
> Cornell Lab to provide a centralized location for birders to collect and
> report their sightings has changed the way birders approach their passion.
> In the process, they’ve built up a database of bird status and distribution
> that is unmatched.
> But it hasn’t solved everything.
> In fact, some of the biggest controversies in the birding community have
> not been addressed by eBird.
> Until now.
> “The birding community is somewhat unique in the level of in-group
> critique it brings to an otherwise peaceful activity” says noted
> sociologist John Retter. “Birders love to tell each other how they are
> doing it wrong, or even how their practice is actively harming the world.
> Many non-birders hold a quaint image of birders as a group of peaceful, if
> dowdy, nature-lovers. The reality once you study the community, is that
> in-group critique is constant.” According to Retter, among other things,
> birders regularly call out other birders for driving too much, for
> ‘chasing’ rarities, for reporting dubious sightings, for disturbing other
> people, for harming birds by feeding them, and for being too competitive.
> “What is remarkable in this community is how rarely the criticism turns
> inward - in effect, you have a community characterized by a group where
> each individual is sure they are virtuous while many others in the group
> are doing it wrong.”
> Enter eBird, with its newest venture aimed at solving all these problems:
> vBird: Birding the Metaverse.
> Beginning today, eBird released their first version of “vBird” a virtual
> reality massive multiplayer online birding app. vBirders, with the purchase
> of a custom eBird VR headset, can now bird anywhere in the world without
> leaving home. Much as Pokemon Go! brought a digital game into nature, vBird
> will bring birding into the metaverse.
> How will another game solve the birding community’s problems? eBird is
> bullish. Once birding moves online, most of the community’s problems will
> vanish in a flash: Concerned that others are driving too much to chase
> birds? Problem solved - all the travel will now be virtual. Concerned about
> ’stringers’ – birders with a rep for fake reports of birds not actually
> present? The Metaverse knows which birds are present [using eBird’s amazing
> dataset] and will be able to instantly verify all sighting claims. Annoyed
> by crowds, playback, or noise? Because the same ‘location’ can exist in
> parallel “multiverses”, you now have the option to control which other
> birders [and how many] are present when you chase that rarity. No real-life
> birds, neighbors, parks, or roadside shoulders will be impacted.
> How it works: vBird’s platform promises to be easy to use at any level.
> There’s a free version that gives birders access to unlimited virtual
> visits to locations within 50 miles of their [real world] home.
> “Travelling” beyond 50 miles begins to incur cost. To avoid vBirders
> instantaneously covering the entire world, users will need to ‘pay’ either
> money or time to access more distant locales. The user will have to either
> be suspended from vBirding for the time it would take in the real world to
> travel to a new location, or they can opt to pay for fast transit.
> There’s also a training mode, where vBirders can choose any location in
> the world and bird for practice, receive feedback on their sightings and
> learn, all without sightings being ‘counted’ towards their vBird life
> lists. Finally tour organizers can still create custom trips and
> itineraries, where an expert guide can lead a group through a virtual
> When asked why they had created this new app, eBird was a bit vague in
> their response. On the one hand, vBird promises to reduce much of the
> conflict in the birding community and might reduce the impact birders
> allegedly have on the planet. On the other hand, there’s little doubt that
> eBird has a financial stake in being first-in-line to profit from birders’
> deep pockets and tech curiosity. The current eBird platform is free and
> funded through sponsored partnerships and grants. As it has grown, and
> become more valuable to birders, it is only natural that the temptation to
> cash in has become stronger. When asked whether diverting birders to a
> virtual world might not be at cross-purposes with the ongoing collection of
> sighting data in the real world, eBird executives had a surprising
> response: “Honestly, our dataset is large enough now with medium-quality
> data that we think the best improvement we can make is to push casual
> birders away from reality to allow scientists to focus on cleaning up the
> data from here on out.
> Matt Bartels
> Seattle, WA
> Tweeters mailing list
> Tweeters at u.washington.edu
"moderation in everything, including moderation"
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