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eNTS eBook Idea

Posted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 8:18 am
by dbhguru

Another stellar contribution. Our collective thanks. The eNTS magazines are huge and whether loaded as a single file or accessed in sections, the sheer volume may deter some from reading. This said, I wouldn't change a thing. The photography, the narratives, and information is soooo good. A further point, and perhaps the most important, is that a lot of the information in the magazine is conveniently obtainable nowhere else. This can be said of the data/information presented in virtually any scientific study, but the general public doesn't read science journals. Most folks look to articles in magazines, newspapers, and shows on T.V. to get information about nature, delivered in a pre-digested and often lightweight form. For trails in parks, they usually rely on trail guides, go on interpretive walks, or get Internet summaries. If they don't get the information through one of these sources, the don't get it. Our site-oriented approach fits handily with the trail guide idea, but has added value. We provide original information that is obtainable nowhere else, and the magazine assembles the information for the convenience of the reader.

This brings me to an idea. I think we have reached the stage where book publishing can be realistically undertaken by NTS. I'm speaking of ebooks. The first book could be a guide to significant forest sites. Each site would be authored or coauthored by members of NTS. There would be a loose format - nothing too onerous or complicated, and a maximum length, both in terms of words and bytes. We could tackle other ebooks later, but this would get out into the public information of exemplary forest sites as seen through the eyes (and numbers) of NTS members. The book would be organized by state. Only visitable sites would be included. We would periodically update the site descriptions. We don't want a long trail of outdated materials to haunt us, as is the case now.

I make this recommendation now for several reasons. We have a growing number of Ents who are making important contributions, but given the sheer volume of material that we've accumulated and are daily posting, their contributions become increasingly diluted and scattered. A regularly maintained ebook would give them visibility and more permanence. It would also force all of us into greater state of discipline. It is too easy to quickly post to the BBS and move on leaving site descriptions half done.

Re: eNTS eBook Idea

Posted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 3:07 pm
by edfrank

You have outlined quite a project. First about MTSF - I would encourage you to write a book about Mohawk Trail State Forest yourself drawing from your Friends of MTSF Reports and the many trip reports you have written and others have contributed to for the forest. You could incorporate NTS data from the forest into the book. I would look to see it published under your own name and offered for sale to the general public. The proceeds would go to you as author and you could do with them as you will - most of your money you spend on NTS stuff anyway. A chapter or section dealing with NTS would be appropriate, but it should be your book. I have thought about writing a book on Cook Forest on my own, drawing from my own observation, commentary, and also including some specific data published on the NTS website. Others with large public park sites could be encouraged to write their own guidebooks for their parks drawing on NTS information with a nod to NTS in the final product.

Trail guides to be most useful need to be available to be distributed as a physical pamphlet. That would require the cooperation of the State parks, etc. In this time of budget crunches it would be hard to get the parks to print the guidebooks on their own at their own cost, or alternatively they could be printed and sold for cost, but that would require someone to do it and collect the money.

The eBook idea is something that would be worthwhile. Something like Mary Davis's "Old Growth in the East" books with perhaps fewer sites and enlarged and more detailed descriptions of key sites. A section could be created for downloadable copies of trail guides from our website as e-files that the individual could download and print. They could alternatively be downloadable from from the various park websites with cooperation of the respective operating agency. Finally QT-Tags could be created and posted at trail heads so that by scanning the tag with a smart phone the tag the trailguide could be downloaded. This last could be implemented regardless of who hosts the guidebooks - the QT-Tag would simply take them to the appropriate webpage or file.

The authorship of the guides is where the problem comes in. In any cooperative or group effort it ends up that one person ends up doing the bulk of the work for the entire project. I am unwilling to take this on myself. You already have a hundred oars in the water and I would rather see you continuing to work on what is already on your plate than trying to take up another task. Perhaps something can be worked out if someone steps forward who wants to take on the task, or several people with their own particular ares that will compiled into a final product.

It would be nice to have a standard length for each site description. They should include a specific set of information within each site description. But beyond that, the descriptions should be free form to highlight what is the most interesting or significant aspect of that site. A few years ago the National Park Service went to a standard format for park descriptions in a bureaucratic spate of nonsense. Prior to that all of the webpages were not exactly the same, but each park website was developed to highlight the best and most important features of that park. Now much of the interesting material is hidden among the levels structure instead of where people can easily find it. My point is that within some loose constraints the site descriptions each guidebook should strive to feature what is neat about that site.

Choosing what is an important site worth highlighting is another problem. You write; "Many sites will be important to individuals, but exhibit nothing special when viewed from a higher perch." I am not sure what is a higher perch when compared to those who are intimately familiar with a site. Different people have different ideas of what is interesting and important. I have wrestled with this idea in my significant patches discussions. People - visitors need to be made aware of what is worthwhile at any particular site they visit, and it may not always be the heights of the tallest trees.

I am just brainstorming right now, and the idea may be workable, but we need to think things through and discuss it more before jumping into the effort.

Ed Frank

Re: eNTS eBook Idea

Posted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:36 pm
by dbhguru

Wise words, good points. Maybe we can kick this thing around for a time and come up with a workable plan. I just believe that collectively we could write a heck of a fine site-oriented book, but the workload might be prohibitive. As an alternative, though, maybe could persuade our key contributing members to commit to each writing a guide for a favored site that fits a loose format that we would first mutually agree on. Then we could have one section of the BBS set aside for these site guides. Maybe nothing more involved than this. I can certainly take all my Mohawk material, extract, and fit the best stuff into a guide based on an agreed to format, and still do all the other stuff. Each author would be individually responsible for keeping his/her guides current. The ebook thing might then eventually take shape from the individual site guides, and maybe not, but we'd have our stellar work organized around maintained site guides.

I'll expand on the vague "higher perch" comment in a future post. Gotta go cook dinner now.


Re: eNTS eBook Idea

Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 1:30 pm
by dbhguru

Not much response on the ebook idea. Perhaps the time has not arrived. However, I do believe the 'adopt-a-site' alternative idea has merit. I hope others agree. I make my case as follows.

Information on important forest sites is too scattered. It isn't anyone's fault. It is the way we communication in the daily flow. After a few weeks information reported on an important new site has to swim in a sea of communications. If we know about the site, we can do searches, but it eventually becomes an awkward process to assemble the most current information. The more scattered the information is, the greater the chance for misinterpretation, and perpetuating out of date information.

Suppose we were to organize our information about important sites in such a way as to always be current and be in a place specifically devoted to important forest sites. We'd have a powerful new tool to communicate with the public and would help anyone doing research find the latest information. We could form a group to oversee the inclusion of new sites. We would develop some kind of criteria for site identification. I'm sure the truly important sites would be recognized without hassle, for example, the Smokies, Congaree, Cook Forest, MTSF, the Porcupine Mtns, etc. Other sites would need more of a vetting, which gets me to my higher perch comment. A site would need to standup to scrutiny and review by an objective panel. I'll use Massachusetts as an example. MTSF, Ice Glen, MSF, Bryant Woods, Mt Greylock, Mt Tom SR, Robinson SP, and Savoy Mountain SF are shoo-ins. Bartholomew's Cobble, Bullard Woods, Petticoat Hill, Forest Park, Hopkins Memorial Forest, Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, and a couple or three of private sites would require more thorough vetting. Then there are many third tier forest sites in Massachusetts, some of which will be important to local advocates, but with nothing exceptional about them. They would not pass muster.

We might aim at the top dozen sites in each state to include in a compilation. In Connecticut Indian Well SP would make it in the first tier. We would not be comparing the sites in one state to those in another, and we might not reach 12 sites in some states - at least not initially. That's okay.

Examples of what would qualify a site for inclusion would include criterion such as old growth, champion trees, a high Rucker index (RHI or RGI), exceptional diversity, exemplary forest development (yes, nebulous), historical importance, and exceptional scenic setting.


Re: eNTS eBook Idea

Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 7:54 pm
by Chris
I strongly support the idea.

I would also imagine local members 'adopting a site'. Depending on large you make it, it isn't that big of deal. It isn't like you need to update heights every year or write 20 pages of prose. Maybe some of the more 'spectacular sites' would deserve more, but for a start, it could be pretty terse. As I mentioned before, I really like Important Bird Area descriptions. They aren't great reading, but they have some common structure and they provide the important information.

For example:

You get where, how to get there, description, significance, tables for sizes/ages/diversity indices, etc.. . You would probably want something for photographs too.

And every one has the same general structure. But there is room for individual stuff. Once you get the basic stuff there, it would just be filling out with new interesting information or explaining more if you want.

Maybe this isn't as big as you want, but it seems like a good started that could be filled out with time.

Re: eNTS eBook Idea

Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:56 am
by dbhguru

Thanks for weighing in. I think we agree that we should start small. The adopt-a-site approach is the best way to go. The trick is to have a place on the BBS-website to go to quickly update information on one's chose site or sites. Keeping the body of information highly visible and convenient to access is the key to success.

In terms of individual workIoads, I can personally cover between a half dozen and a dozen sites - maybe more - but I don't want to be hoggish. Anyone who wants to be the lead on a site that I have previously reported on is welcome to do do - except for MTSF, MSF, Ice Glen, and Bryant Woods. I have so much data on those sites and visit them so often that I'm the obvious person. There are other equally obvious choices. Dale Luthringer is the person Friday for Cook Forest. George Fieo has sites in southern PA that carries his stamp. Steve and Rand in Ohio have their turf, and so on. And we have our colleagues in Europe. There is a good chance that we could compile an impressive site inventory within a year for the eastern United States for those states with key resident Ents. However, the West presents an enormous challenge. Michael Taylor and Mario Vaden have their spots in California and Oregon. I have some spots in southwestern Colorado, but outside the few location in Colorado, California, Oregon, and maybe Washington, the West is wide open and begging for some champions to come forward. Geography works against us, but I hope we can get something going, however minimal.

If we get this initiative off the ground, one point needs to be made up front, however delicately. If someone agrees to adopt a site for the purposes outlined here, that person needs to be serious. A lick and a swipe won't do it. The site needs to be periodically revisited and the information updated. Of course, people shouldn't feel obligated to annually measure and re-measure every important tree like I am compelled to do. But observation as to what has changed over the course of a year is important. If a champion tree is damaged or hits the ground, that event shouldn't go unreported for several years. So, currency is next to Godliness. Otherwise we perpetuate what we have now.


Re: eNTS eBook Idea

Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 10:24 am
by Larry Tucei
Bob, Ed, all, I have been compiling all my information about the Live Oaks I've been measuring these past few years into word format. I have all 201 trees with storylines and photos of each tree. Some have multiple trees at the same location and some are just on a specific tree. I also have historical information, locations, listings, etc., some lengthly some not. I have wanted to put this all together in a book with various chapters on them but it would be long, somewhere around 250-300 pages. With of course Live Oak descriptions, native ranges, growth rates, maximum ages, maximum sizes, etc. I decided to break it into States making in smaller and easier for me and the reader. I may just get crazy and put all the info in one book divide by States. I need to contact a publisher and get the ball rolling, I've have been putting it off for far to long. I would be glad to send some of the stuff for an E-Book if you guys go that way. The NTS Magazine that Ed compiles is truly Awesome! I don't recall reading a better one yet. Also the one Don Bragg puts together is good. Just my thoughts. Larry

Re: eNTS eBook Idea

Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:37 pm
by michael gatonska
Hi all;
I will venture out to make some soundscape recordings here:
"In Connecticut Indian Well SP would make it in the first tier", which is the wonderfull location that Bob has mentioned. Perhape the recordings can be of use to 'accent' the adopt a site initiative?

Also, I like the idea that Chris had, which is to include bird area descriptions and - for example, some recordings that might really accentuate a specific place, and might make both the adopt a site and e-book concepts more attractive and interactive!, really taking advantange of the medium. Just a thought...

Re: eNTS eBook Idea

Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:29 pm
by dbhguru

Including recording is a phenomenal idea. It would make the book far, far more interesting.


Re: eNTS eBook Idea

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 4:26 am
by Shirley
I like to see e-books, I feel it has brought me a lot of convenience, of course, also saves a lot of money. Support e-book!