[Tweeters] vBird: Birding beyond the crowds...

J Christian Kessler 1northraven at gmail.com
Fri Apr 1 09:23:43 PDT 2022

Matt --

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

> location.





> 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

> http://mailman11.u.washington.edu/mailman/listinfo/tweeters


"moderation in everything, including moderation"
Rustin Thompson
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mailman11.u.washington.edu/pipermail/tweeters/attachments/20220401/a67cefff/attachment.html>

More information about the Tweeters mailing list