Thursday, February 10, 2000

The Digital Plume Hunter criteria for what makes a Birding Blog "good"

In the second coming of the Web (aka Web 2.0, circa 2006), internet technology became social, collaborative and democratized.

While Web 1.0 (circa 1999) was the era of "read only" and transactional websites (i.e., content and commerce); Web 2.0 allows each one of us to not only be a consumer, but also a creator of content.

This "democratization" of the Web means that we all (assuming web literacy) can be authors and influencers. How? By connecting "virtually" to people across the globe through shared interests. This is made possible by the incredible power of the Search Engine (which more often than not is going to be Google).

And, of course, a great example of Web 2.0 is the proliferation of Blogs on the Web; including, blogs about birds.

So what makes a birding blog "good"? Of course, the answer to this depends on one's subjective definition of "good", but clearly, "good" means providing content that is "useful and interesting to the birder".

With that in mind, let's make an attempt to list some characteristics of a good birding blog:

1. It should (obviously) be about birding; i.e.:
  • The finding and identification of birds
    • Aids to identification of bird species
    • Visual depiction of the bird ("a picture is worth a thousand words")
    • Location information (unless this would jeopardize nesting or conservation)
    • Directions, maps, tips and other helpful information about birding sites
2. It should be about the conservation of birds and their habitat:
  •  Highlighting issues which will help preserve birdlife for future generations to enjoy
    • Conservation history of the species and current population trends
    • Conservation status and threats affecting the species
3. It should be about the natural history of birds:
  • Through the documentation of  bird behavior
4. It should be about bird science:
  • What science tells us about bird species, how they evolved and how they're classified
5. It may also offer historical insight:
  • Who, when and how was the bird first described to science
6. And, since most (if not all) birding blogs feature (digital) photographs, it may also be useful to discuss photographic technique. 
  • The good news is that photo equipment is getting more affordable and, with proper technique, anyone can take great images
If the 6 criteria are met, there is every confidence that upon reading the blog, the reader will not only be intellectually enriched but will be left with a renewed fascination for bird species, their visual brilliance and natural history.