Carl Zimmer on stage at the Shubert Theatre New Haven photo by L. Jones for YPM

Carl Zimmer-  From Page to Pixel: Science Writing Goes Online

 Written by Eleanor Robinson

Conference organizers announced that the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) Wednesday morning’s session would be webcasted – an apt segue for keynote address speaker, Carl Zimmer’s topic about the digitization of science writing, ‘From Page to Pixel: Science Writing Goes Online’. 

 At the onset of Zimmer’s career as a writer for Discover Magazine in 1993, lay readers learned about science discoveries at newsstands.  Beyond newspapers and magazines, people sought that information in a library.

 “When I had queries about dinosaurs I couldn’t just ask a computer”, reflected Zimmer.  For example,  “The latest ideas and photos about Pterosaur biology were found in Discover magazine.”

 As a budding science writer, Zimmer was escorted behind the scenes at the American Museum of Natural History by paleontologist Alexander Kelnor. Upon viewing the dinosaur bone collections, he was filled with the excitement that “nobody knows about this”.  

 In the early 90’s, Zimmer would write a story and send it off into a void. Months later it would show up in a magazine. Maybe someone would write a letter to the editor that would show up the following month. Now with his author website, carlzimmer.com, feedback can be immediate.

 Blogs can also be powerful tools for a writer to stay current, but the anonymity on the Internet can lead to nasty and vicious feedback.  Zimmer stresses the need to teach people to read skeptically and for children to learn that not everything on the Internet is true.

 Yet for natural history collectors, he advocates taking advantage of new media.  But in the flurry, he suggests to avoid broadcasting on the Internet just because you feel you ought to. Consultants have told Zimmer to blog twice a day.

 “Awful”, Zimmer balks. “Think clearly about what your goals are. For example, why do people want to look through your butterfly collection?”

 “Internet information can radiate in weird directions and out of control”, adds Zimmer.  It can be difficult to steer the direction of the information.

 He cited two examples of blogs he wrote, one about tapeworms in the brain and another about a parasitic wasp with its cockroach host.  The stories “went viral” and the news radiation ended up influencing a rock and roll band to use the wasp’s Latin name in its song lyrics.  In another case, a celebrity action hero plagiarized a Zimmer story about  tapeworms for publicity purposes. The journalism food web now includes news reporting which can bounce around to and from a blog, podcast, Facebook, eBooks and Amazon.com.

How do museums fit into this matrix? Zimmer reflects on the limitations of the old model of museums as collections, exhibits and a gift shop. Now the collections are opened up.

“Now I can pull up a skull on a computer screen”. Digimorph, eBooks and YouTube have entered the science information scene.  The American Museum of Natural History posted a YouTube video of the earth on the internet called “The Known Universe”, resulting in 10 millions viewers, and the Exploratorium in San Francisco published a free eBook on Leonardo de Vinci about anatomy with a wide circulation.

 “The internet is not going away”, stated Zimmer. “It can be used creatively to talk about science.” He reminded the museum professionals gathered, “Take opportunities to steer the information and outbreaks the way you want them to go”.

Carl Zimmer’s full presentation is now viewable ONLINE thanks to Yale University.

Exactly one week ago today our shuttle bus of 14 eager birders headed out into the field to explore the birds of Connecticut.  Well… at least the birds of Connecticut that were willing to come out and play.  Weather definitely could have been worse with only a soggy last stop and we even got to eat lunch outside. 

We started the day at the Mohawk State Forest, Black Spruce Bog in Cornwall, CT.  Dividing in half, one group headed immediately into the bog while the other went into nearby habitat to track down the singing Chestnut-sided Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, and Broadwinged Hawk (not that they really ‘sing’).  After flipping spots, playing some tapes, making a pish or two, it was time to head down to our next stop with just over 35 species under our belt.

After making a quick stop for Bobolink, we arrived at White Memorial Foundation in Litchfield, CT.  Birds were flying everywhere as the group tried to grab a bite in between lifting up our binoculars.  A quick walk around the pond for Yellow Warbler, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Blue Jay before heading to the boardwalk.  The boardwalk turned up many great species and even better, some nice unobstructed views of another 30 plus species. 

 

Our final destination was Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point in Milford, CT.  This marsh and beach habitat is partially protected by the Connecticut Audubon Society and in part by the U.S. Federal Wildlife Service.  Before we even got off the bus the Purple Martins were swirling around the parking lot, adding another species.  The marsh platform accounted for sightings of four heron species and two ducks.  Heading to the beach we added the federally listed endangered species Piping Plover (Atlantic Coast population). 

As phenomenal as the birds were (see the full list below), the day was made even better by having such a wonderful group of enthusiastic bird watchers.  Thanks to everyone who was able to participate and to my co-leaders for making the day so successful.

  1. Brant
  2. Canada Goose
  3. Mute Swan
  4. Wood Duck
  5. Mallard
  6. American Black Duck
  7. Wild Turkey
  8. Ring-necked Pheasant
  9. Double-crested Cormorant
  10. Great Blue Heron
  11. Great Egret
  12. Snowy Egret
  13. Black-crowned Night Heron
  14. Yellow-crowned Night Heron
  15. Turkey Vulture
  16. Black Vulture
  17. Osprey
  18. Broad-winged Hawk
  19. Red-tailed Hawk
  20. Virginia Rail
  21. Piping Plover
  22. American Oystercatcher
  23. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  24. Laughing Gull
  25. Ring-billed Gull
  26. Herring Gull
  27. Greater Black-backed Gull
  28. Common Tern
  29. Black Skimmer
  30. Rock Pigeon
  31. Mourning Dove
  32. Chimney Swift
  33. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  34. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  35. Downy Woodpecker
  36. Hairy Woodpecker
  37. Northern Flicker
  38. Pileated Woodpecker
  39. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  40. Willow Flycatcher
  41. Least Flycatcher
  42. Eastern Phoebe
  43. Great Crested Flycatcher
  44. Eastern Kingbird
  45. Blue-headed Vireo
  46. Red-eyed Vireo
  47. Blue Jay
  48. American Crow
  49. Common Raven
  50. Purple Martin
  51. Tree Swallow
  52. Barn Swallow
  53. Black-capped Chickadee
  54. Tufted Titmouse
  55. White-breasted Nuthatch
  56. Winter Wren
  57. Marsh Wren
  58. Eastern Bluebird
  59. Veery
  60. Wood Thrush
  61. American Robin
  62. Gray Catbird
  63. Northern Mockingbird
  64. European Starling
  65. Cedar Waxwing
  66. Yellow Warbler
  67. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  68. Magnolia Warbler
  69. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  70. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  71. Black-throated Green Warbler
  72. Black-and-White Warbler
  73. American Redstart
  74. Ovenbird
  75. Northern Waterthrush
  76. Common Yellowthroat
  77. Canada Warbler
  78. Scarlet Tanager
  79. Eastern Towhee
  80. Chipping Sparrow
  81. Song Sparrow
  82. Swamp Sparrow
  83. Northern Cardinal
  84. Indigo Bunting
  85. Bobolink
  86. Red-winged Blackbird
  87. Common Grackle
  88. Brown-headed Cowbird
  89. Baltimore Oriole
  90. Purple Finch?
  91. American Goldfinch
  92. House Sparrow

Other Stuff:

  • Eastern Chipmunk
  • American Red Squirrel
  • Gray Squirrel
  • Gray Fox
  • Red Eft/ Red-spotted Newt
  • Green Frog
  • Bullfrog
  • Eastern Painted Turtle
  • Snapping Turtle

Ok SPNHC people here is the schedule for the bar crawl this evening!!!

7:15pm Meet in the 2nd floor Mezzanine of the Omni hotel and recieve your bracelet to get all the deals.

7:30pm Black Bear- on the corner of Crown and Temple

8:15pm Walk up Crown to BAR nightclub

9:00pm Weave back down Crown to Kelly’s Bar (corner Crown and Temple)

9:45pm Stumble down Temple to Wicked Wolf, right across from the Omni!

Next proceed to drink until well… until you’re done.

Do I mean the meeting?  Do I mean the excitement?  Or do I mean the drinking?  Any which way you look at it…. we have begun.  The Registratioln Lite Booth was manned by Lourdes this evening for a couple of hours.  I hung around to cheer her on as well. 

Image

I did take a quick a trip up the Shubert Theater (Theatre if you will), where our plenary session has been moved to for WEDNESDAY morning.  You may wonder why we moved the plenary…. well we have tipped the scale at 400 registrants.  The Shubert is a block away from the Omni via the alleyway/ courtyard across the street.  Registration will be open in the Omni at 8am so come grab your swag before heading over to the Shubert.  We will have a registration table at the Shubert as well.ImageImage

Of course we did start to be social as well.  Beers consumed n=?.

Bar Crawl Stops

Posted: June 7, 2012 in Meeting, Uncategorized
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Who knew bar crawls were so easy to organize?  We are planning a 4-stop crawl with some amazing deals at each stop.  The best part is all of these bars have some great food too.  So if you find yourself hungry, you can just grab a bite to eat. 

 

STOP 1:  Black Bear Saloon

The Black Bear Saloon specializes in American fare and is offering some great specials.  The open floor plan and large bar area make this a great start to our crawl.  Black Bear has offered to keep the specials going in case you decide you want to stick around. http://www.blackbearnh.com/

STOP 2: Bar Nightclub

Bar Nightclub is best known for it’s locally crafted beer and thin-style crust pizza.  Get a taste of the beer at our Tuesday Welcome Reception and then explore some of the other varieties during our bar crawl.  http://www.barnightclub.com/

STOP 3: Kelly’s Restaurant and Bar

A newer kid on the bar block, this popular spot has over 20 beers on tap and a growing wine list.  Stay inside or enjoy their cozy outside seating area.  http://www.kellysnewhaven.com/

STOP 4: Wicked Wolf

Our last stop  has three separate bars, a dance floor, and a strong Irish-influenced decor.  For those who want to wind down the night, the Omni is right across the street but for those who want to step it up, it’s Salsa night on the dance floor at Wicked Wolf!  http://www.wickedwolfnh.com/

All pictures were borrowed from the bar webpages and are copyrighted to them.

Birding Field Trip

Posted: June 7, 2012 in Meeting
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Chestnut-sided Warbler

After doing some scouting last month for the field trip we have decided to add White Memorial Conservation Center as a stop for our birding field trip.  For those few fortunate people who will be coming with us, I thought I would give you a taste of what we might see.  This list was from a walk that took place yesterday.  They had an impressive list that I hope we can get close too as well!!

 

 

 

 

Species
Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Mallard
Double-crested Cormorant
Least Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Osprey
Red-tailed Hawk
Virginia Rail
Killdeer
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Wood Pewee    
Alder Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
 Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Marsh Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
Veery
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Ovenbird
Black-and-white Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Pine Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch

PROGRAM AVAILABLE

Posted: June 7, 2012 in Meeting
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People have been wondering if the program would be available ahead of time.  And now it is. 

http://peabody.yale.edu/collections/spnhc2012/program

You can go read through all of the abstracts and decide what talks strike your fancy and which posters to spend your time at.  All of our vendors are in there too so take this time to go check out their websites and see who has something you may want!