Archive for the ‘Tom Cole’ tag
Step back to 1995. You have a paper address book – family, friends, business – but it’s too big. You’ve been so many places and met so many people that you can’t distinguish John Smith the college buddy from John Smith at the office. It’s time to get organized with a computer program.
You buy one off the shelf, meticulously enter the data, but over time find it wanting. What to do? Write your own program of course, then a few years later, do it again.
This is what Tom Cole, ESL teacher and game programmer, did with his birdwatching data. After decades of keeping a bird rolodex on paper, he went digital in the 1990s, and never looked back. His self-published edition, The Intersection: Seventeen Years of Bird Processing on One Street Corner of the World, tells this story.
The corner is in Gilbert, AZ, in the not-so-natural-looking Phoenix metro area. As a city birder, I feel great affinity for a person who birds a tough urban spot and finds treasure year after year. The resulting data collection is astounding. Much like baseball enthusiasts, not all birders keep a strict set of scorecards, but Tom Cole did, and still does. The value of that data, and its extreme organization, cannot be overstated. Professional ornithologists would seek grants and graduate students to forge such a dataset, but this man did it simply because he wanted to.
Newer birders are extremely fortunate. We have any number of software packages and apps and DVDs and CDs to add to our field guide collections, to use with or in lieu of our notebooks. That is, if we take notes at all.