Birdstack: a good response by David Ringer

To: "Peter Shute" <>
Subject: Birdstack: a good response by David Ringer
From: "Dave Torr" <>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 14:08:13 +1100
My only real concern was that potential users should ask some hard questions
about the safety of their data (which have been pretty well answered now)
and the likelihood of their data being there when they want it. If that is a
"knee jerk" reaction then it is based on 30+ years in the IT industry, lots
of experience of companies failing, data loss etc etc. My first website was
lost (fortunately I had my own backups) when the hosting company folded
As for fragmentation - I guess the important thing is that data is available
online. If it is in 4 online databases rather than 3 then that is probably
better than it being in notebooks (paper ones!) which will sooner or later
be lost to researchers.

On 22/01/2008, Peter Shute <> wrote:
>  wrote on Tuesday, 22 January 2008
> 11:55 AM:
> > Thank you for your very well presented response to some of
> > the knee-jerk
> > reactions to Duncan Fraser's considerate and thoughtful (as
> > usual) advice as
> > to the availability of Birdstack.
> As one of the first to jump in, I'd like to point out that as someone
> who works with computers I have survived many data disasters such as
> yours and have become extremely wary of anything new and unproven.  I
> have also spent much of my working life trying to integrate data, so I'm
> equally unimpressed with systems that fragment it again.
> If I was to try to intoduce such a system myself, I would expect to be
> given the third degree by any potential users.  That's normal and good
> but I hope noone was offended.
> It appears that this system, which I still have not tried (not for any
> reason other than laziness), could have the makings of a good database.
> It seems to have some new things that others don't have, and be run by
> people who have the ability to add more (something which many systems
> lack).
> It seems that the ability to forward information on to another database
> is not yet ready, but that users concerns about backups should largely
> be answered by the ability to download one's own data.
> But this doesn't really solve the problem of fragmentation.  I can
> forward my data on to Eremaea, etc, but then I need to use Eremaea to
> get reports that include data from all the other Eremaea users.  Then I
> lose access to all the new reporting features.  The problem of
> fragmentation is only solved by importing *all* the data into whichever
> system has the best reporting features.
> The question of taxonomies is not a small one.  I've tried to use
> databases using ones that I'm not used to, and spent more time sorting
> out clashes than entering data.
> > Along with the feeling that those personal records are of little real
> > scientific value because I was simply noting what I had seen
> > and where (no
> > specific details of numbers, ages, sexes, plumages, breeding,
> > geography, weather, time etc) I did not bother to investigate other
> > data-bases to see
> > if there was anything better than the one I had been using. Nowadays,
> > I don't even record what birds I see as I am only really
> > interested in taking
> > photos and I can usually work out where they were taken when
> > I review them
> > later.
> I don't record much more than species either unless I see something
> special, and Eremaea, which I use, doesn't accept counts, etc anyway,
> except in note form.  But it still helps others to at least know what
> they're likely to see at a particular site.  I haven't got around to
> contributing to the Atlas yet, but I would have thought that
> species-only information is useful to them too.
> Peter Shute
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