Bird Monitoring and New Media: An Anthropological Exploration
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As the diversity of new media increases, people have more choices than ever before to select between various media for specific uses. In this thesis, I draw from my own research to look at the ways that bird monitors associated with the rare Charitable Research Reserve in Cambridge, Ontario, share or keep their observation records of birds in the digital age. I conducted participant observations, semi-structured interviews, and survey fieldwork from May – September 2018. In chapter one, I highlight how the proliferation of digital media provides users with novel choices of which medium to select for specific uses. In the following chapter, I unravel this further to reveal that bird monitors choose to use a diversity of media and I explore how this accords with the expectations of the rare Charitable Research Reserve. I suggest that while some bird monitors share their observation records in accordance with expectations, some share in other ways, or choose not to share at all, keeping their records without sharing. In the discussion of chapter two, I emphasize the joint role that media and exchange play in the context of eBird. I argue that eBird produces a kind of fame, or at least recognition, that may increase one’s credibility as a bird monitor or discredit them through instances of bird species misidentification. It is my hope that this research and the insights that might be gleaned from this study have practical applications for the rare Charitable Research Reserve and other organizations that engage the public in the digital age. Furthermore, I hope that this research might meaningfully contribute to the growing body of literature on the interaction between humans and technology.
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Mallory Moscovitch (2019). Bird Monitoring and New Media: An Anthropological Exploration. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14423