Okay, so many have been mourning the loss of BirdTalk magazine and I have been sorta keeping my mouth shut, perhaps I need to vent and finally give my perspective.
I remember when BT began (Yep! I’m showing my age! But I learned to read at 2... :-) ), it was ground-breaking, I couldn’t wait to read the issues and would race with anticipation to the bookstore, pet store, etc. to get the newest copy, at last a color magazine for the bird-lover! I remember reading the articles and really enjoying them, granted, I didn’t read each and every issue or article, but as with everyone, I chose those articles that I enjoyed and it improved my understanding and broadened my interests. BT was the magazine that affirmed my passion for South American species and macaws in particular, those gorgeous centerfolds filled my mind with birds I wish I could/would one day own. Granted, other publications existed, but none had the quality of photos or contributors that BT had, I anxiously read articles from such notable people as Sally Blanchard, Kashmir Csaky, Irene Pepperberg, and yes, my friend Patricia Sund.
Approximately two years ago I noticed a significant change in the magazine, it had become noticeably smaller and the ads seemed to be getting more prominence, that change was beginning. As a print professional I saw the changes in my field and the Domino-effect had begun, it was obvious that many publications were going to fold and for many, it was only a matter of time based upon their resources and readership. E-volution has taken its toll, and not just for periodicals, but for books, advertising, and all other printed media, many publishers began to fight for their existence, but the inevitable was in the horizon.
E-volution has its pros and cons just like any other facet of life and we have to accept and adapt with it, and professionally, I am still trying to adapt. The major pro in my opinion is that we are conserving resources like trees, water, and the energy required to produce printed materials, the major con is the job loss and the ripple-effect that spreads. I take great pride in trying to become paperless, I encourage those around me to try to do the same, I keep PDFs on things that I need to store, I only print what I think is necessary. I honestly believe in the long run we will all benefit when we conserve natural resources, and I have hope that we will all find new ways to survive in the changing world.
I feel like I was late to adapt to an iPad, my lovely husband Joel had one, most of my friends had them, and I even tried one for 1 day before returning it. I tried one again a couple months later and I now believe it is one of the best devices ever created, Steve Jobs proved his genius with it, I love the iPad, I am writing this on it and I now believe I could live without my iPhone more than this great achievement. To anyone who has been reluctant to try an iPad, I urge you to give it a try! The iPad has made me more of a reader, it has increased my productivity, and it has given me more mobility in this brave new world. Again, in my opinion, we will see the demise of the laptop and desktop in our lifetime, and tablets will evolve to meet more of our needs and play larger roles in our lives.
Back to e-volution and our beloved BirdTalk... How many of us actually read a magazine cover to back? How many of us actually take time to research topics in depth? How many of us take pleasure in having another magazine that will eventually be boxed or put into the recycling bin? Personally, I Google topics and if necessary, I take notes to create a document for reference. BirdTalk was a victim of our new way of viewing and processing our media, it simply could not change, it fell on its knees trying to keep up with the boards, forums, groups, and all, it got bruised and battered and finally realized that it was time to give up. Now, we must give it the respect it deserves and either move on/adapt, or we try to give it a new life in the electronic world and band together in the effort.
Given how we share and retrieve/find information; is a media like BirdTalk really necessary? I don’t think so, we Google for images and content all the time, we no longer have or need an information hierarchy such as a library, heck, we can do research in McDonalds or Starbucks and it can be just as valid as if it were done in an academic environment.
So now what? In my opinion, we need to realize life has changed again, we need to hope that those brilliant minds we enjoyed reading will share their wisdom and gifts with us in an electronic world, blogging or participating in forums and boards. We need to look back and realize we were part of an era and that we can be proud we led the way to what is now online, and we need to look ahead. I believe the best is yet to come... Farewell BirdTalk, thank you for so many wonderful years, you will be fondly remembered...