Subject: [Tweeters] Phone apps
Date: Sep 11 20:02:16 2011
From: Ted Ryan - coffeemonkey101 at

I wonder if this conversation occurred when binoculars and scopes were introduced to bird watching. ?You can only bird with your own eyes!? say the purists. ?And you must bird naked, no clothing assisted bird watching!?

Insanity is trying to project your idea of how to enjoy the natural world onto others.

Ted Ryan
Fredrickson, WA
coffeemonkey101 AT comcast DOT net

From: Guttman,Burt
Sent: Sunday, September 11, 2011 4:16 PM
To: tweeters at
Subject: [Tweeters] Phone apps

Yesterday I went up to Edmunds, for their birding festival, and did my one-hour presentation on getting started in birding, as I?ve done at their festival for a few years now, and also at a few other festivals and other occasions. I begin by talking about the delights of birding, butterflying, botanizing, and so on that we all share in various ways. Then I explain one of the primary reasons I feel it?s important to talk to people about all this and why I wrote my little workbook about how to learn birding and enjoy doing it: because I see people in our society trying more and more to live in an artificial little electronic world, glued to computers and the internet and the little phone gadgets that are being programmed to do more and more. And I say, quite directly, that when I see people walking through a beautiful forest or a wildlife preserve, carrying their little electronic gadgets, typing on them, listening to them, being absorbed in that electronic world instead of the wonderful, beautiful world all around them, then I say to myself that we have become a truly sick society?I will go so far as to say a truly insane society.

So now I see my fellow Tweets asking about birding apps. And I can well understand the advantages of having essentially all the material in a book programmed into the little gadget, which is easier to carry and use, and which can play bird calls, as the book cannot do. I understand that. But now I see people asking whether there are apps that will do more?for instance, an app that will listen to the bird call and identify it. Someone writes about an app that will look at the leaves of a plant and identify it. Maybe there are apps that will look at a photo of the bird and identify it. And now, my friends, I say we have crossed a line and are in danger of making birding and butterflying and botanizing into insane activities, into non-human activities. For if you are asking for the gadget to do these things, you are asking the gadget to replace the human mind and the human heart. It is one thing to use a source of information to help you process the world with your own eyes and ears and your own human intelligence?to help you learn about the natural world and enjoy it. But when you ask the electronic gadget to do what humans should be doing?well, why not let the little gadget live your entire life for you? Maybe we can make gadgets that will select our food and drink and feed them to us and enjoy them for us. The Friends App will select your friends for you and keep sending them messages telling all about what you?re doing and thinking. The Music App will select music for you and listen to it and tell you that you?re really enjoying it. Wow!! We?ll never have to actually live our lives any more. Everything?everything!!?will be done for us electronically.

You wanna live in that world?

Burt Guttman
The Evergreen State College
Olympia, WA 98505 guttmanb at
Home: 7334 Holmes Island Road S. E., Olympia, 98503

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