Re: Why Publish bird observations? Re: afo

To: "Chris Sanderson" <>
Subject: Re: Why Publish bird observations? Re: afo
From: "Robert Inglis" <>
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 2010 18:12:24 +1000

In this world many cultures, including ours, have an inclination to equate the 
colour white with things that are pure, clean, unadulterated while the colour 
black is equated with things that are bad, dirty.
White is a colour to aspire to (in many people's minds) while black is a colour 
to avoid and, in fact, fear. Except in the world of fashion, of course, but 
that is a world of unfathomable distortion.
Grey, being something less than white is, therefore not pure, clean or 
unadulterated and should be approached with suspicion.
As you would be aware, in the retail world there is such a thing as the 'grey 
market'. This is probably a term created by manufacturers of products which 
they wish to market as 'high quality' and thus could be given a premium price. 
In the photographic market the 'grey market' is generally that group of 
retailers who import directly from a wholesale source and then sell their 
products at a price which significantly undercuts the 'local' market. In most 
cases the 'grey' product and the 'genuine' local product are exactly the same 
but there are shady individuals who re-label inferior products and market them 
as genuine 'grey' products or, even, genuine 'local' products. Complicated, 
isn't it?
The upshot of this is that the label 'grey' in this case is often used to 
insinuate 'fake', 'counterfeit, 'false', 'bad'.

Many people, thus, would equate the term 'grey literature' with that literature 
being highly suspect at least and to be totally disregarded at the extreme.
Wingspan obviously does not in any way claim to be a scientific publication 
and, in my mind, to refer to it as 'grey literature' can only do it harm.
"Grey literature" is obviously a jargon term bandied around in the world of 
academia and that is ok but when the academics emerge into the 'real' world 
(Oh! No! Bob! You are going to get rocks on your roof!) they should remember 
that jargon is esoteric (love that word) by nature and it can be easily 
misinterpreted by the uninformed. I spent nearly 40 years working in a highly 
technical world where jargon was the main language and it certainly created a 
feeling of superiority to be able to converse in that language knowing that my 
non-technical friends were in awe of my high status in the order of beings. But 
what is the good of talking in a language that few people can understand?

Anyway, what I am saying is that, in this case, 'grey literature' does appear 
to me to be pejorative, whether you intended it to be so or not (I speak for 
myself, others may differ), and I suggest you and your friends consider using a 
more accurately descriptive term when referring to Wingspan. It could help to 
narrow the academic/non-academic divide.

Bob Inglis
Sandstone Point

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