Sunday, 28 June 2009

Bird Clubs

The region has four, of which I'm now a member of two. I peruse the on-line sightings and published newsletter of the third. At the present time almost all my birding is in Northumberland as I'm restricted by kids and such. It is interesting to compare though how the Bird Clubs are approaching the 21st century. I'll admit my bias when it comes to the topic of blogs and how the bird clubs handle them. Bird North East now has links on Teesmouth Bird Club & Durham Bird Club's respective websites which in my mind kind of leaves NTBC and their recent statement about the non inclusion of blog links on their website a little out of touch.
As I understand the committee's argument they won't add blog links because the content is outside of their control and may in some instances be offensive to some members. Yet the website has links to other websites over whose content the committee has no control. If I find something offensive then I can decide not to go back and it's parents who are responsible for ensuring that the on-line content children engage with is acceptable to them rather than Bird Club committees.
None of the three Bird Clubs have a blog, which is a shame, such a flexible easy to use publishing and communication tool can be a huge asset to any organisation. If nothing else they can act as a dynamic way of reaching existing and potential members. It is notable that many organisations who have far more complex and detailed websites have also launched blogs (e.g.Birdguides), recognising that they offer something different and can access potential users that they might never find using conventional means. The other social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Chirptracker (when launched in the UK) all have their place and uses too. Two of the three, NTBC again being the exception have forums on their websites for members to exchange opinion online. It is interesting also to note that Durham & Teesmouth seem to be taking a different path when it comes to land & property ownership and site development for example Castle Lake and the proposed Hartlepool seawatching hide. Have they got it right? Is the NTBC more traditional, some might say less risky approach, the best long term way or are they been left behind in the blaze of change sweeping the region?


Steve Gale said...

Alan, I think that Bird Clubs need to embrace the 'new technology' with far more trust otherwise they run the risk of withering away. Maybe many of them are still run by those who are of a 'certain age' and thus distrust blogs, web sites and the like. I'm not sure which way bird clubs and societies will go - which die off may well be resurrected in a 21st century version soon after. Time will tell.

Girl In The Hide said...

Hi Alan.I would say that the NTBC are rather out of date - although like you, I may be biased! I am an amateur birder and have learnt so much already from blogs that I have reached from the more obvious websites, such as bird clubs.

The argument about inoffensive content is poor as blogs are sort of self-policing (if that makes sense) in that if someone does click through to something offensive on a birding site (really though?!) they can comment publicly that they find that content offensive underneath it. It's not to say it will be removed but I think it's quite a powerful tool.

Can't say I've got into Twitter yet but I have had to use it for work, so one day....

Ipin said...

Alan, there are four bird clubs in the region - you forgot the North Northumberland Bird Club an entirely different sort of bird club to the others!

I was on the NTBC committee when the whole blogs on the website thing was discussed, needless to say I lost that particular argument and the 'traditionals' won. I'll fill you in on the gories sometime.

Anonymous said...

Whats the point of bird clubs?

You pay your subs, then what?

Blyth Birder said...

Out of interest, whats the spread of age groups within NTBC?

How many young birders does it have in its membership?

How many newcomers apply year on year?

Why does it not seem to run the sort of activities that Durham Bird Club does, ie: ID workshops, Young Birders activites, etc?

As for the idea that Blogs could offend. Thats 'Mary Whitehouse syndrome' If it offends, stop reading it - simple.