A quick review of the BNHS DVD by L. Shyamal

8 views
Skip to first unread message

Ashwin Baindur

unread,
Feb 20, 2009, 12:08:18 PM2/20/09
to indiantreepix
Hi,

What Shyamal, has to say is of interest to all people interested in
nature who have had difficulties in finding information.

Besides, the JBNHS has definitely been a major contributor to
information about trees in India.

Ashwin

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "L. Shyamal" <musc...@gmx.net>
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2009 20:31:30 +0530
Subject: Fw: [bngbirds] A quick review of the BNHS DVD
To: Ashwin Baindur <ashwin....@gmail.com>

One of those have to obtain things !

----- Original Message -----
From: L. Shyamal
To: bngb...@yahoogroups.com
Cc: Madhav Gadgil ; Joseph Joy ; Kumaran Sathasivam
Sent: Friday, February 20, 2009 10:34 AM
Subject: [bngbirds] A quick review of the BNHS DVD


BNHS (2009) Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society: One Hundred
Volumes of [the] JBNHS.
DVD published by BNHS, Bombay. Rs 1000

This DVD was released a couple of days ago at the 125th year celebrations of
the Bombay Natural History Society. I had seen a preview of the contents
some years ago thanks to Kumaran Sathasivam and Joseph Joy and having spent
many years browsing through the yellowed and brittle pages of the journal in
the GKVK library more than ten years ago I knew the non-monetary value of
the DVD. By a strange quirk, whenever I needed to look up a reference from
the JBNHS, it would turn out that the particular volume or specific pages
that I needed would be missing from the volumes at my University library. I
later had a chance glance at the volumes in the BNHS library and they looked
like a stack of broken "papads" held precariously between binding. Not
encouraging to researchers.

Collectors of artefacts have been on the Subcontinent in their hordes and
they are still a dime a dozen. It is interesting that even as early as 1873
Brian Hodgson the ethnologist and naturalist was complaining that "... the
face of our land is darkened with skin hunters, deputed by learned Societies
to encumber science with ill-ascertained species, no English zoological
association has a single travelling naturalist (...) nor has one such body
yet sought to invigorate local research". The situation seems to have
changed only slightly, with the artefacts (and aims) changing from specimens
and trophies to books, photographs and even information and it would appear
that these are used more as adornments (a la male bowerbirds) than as
sources of enlightenment. Joseph Joy and Kumaran Sathasivam have worked with
the BNHS to bring in a welcome breath of hope in this climate of
selfishness. They have spent decades hunting down old copies of the journal,
buying expensive copies from obscure European "antiquariat" shops and have
sacrificed the physical books (destroying the binding and the "collectible
value" that most other collectors presumably seek) so as to produce the high
quality scans that are included in this amazing DVD.

For the more technically oriented, the scans are in DJVU (pronounced Deja
Vu) format and have an image and an OCR-ed text layer. What this means is
that the contents are searchable, however the DVD itself does not include
search tools but those who know the reference by volume, issue and page
number will be able to find what they want. The real value of the DVD can be
unleashed only by getting a little more technology-savvy. Copy the contents
to the hard disk or an external drive and the install Google Desktop along
with the DJVU Indexer plugin for Google Desktop (from
http://desktop.google.com/plugins/i/djvu.html ). You then need to leave your
system with Google Desktop running for a whole day or two so that the
software produces an index for the contents. Once done you should be able to
search through the contents (even if there are some spelling errors
introduced by the Optical Character Recognition software) to find hidden
gems of lore and information. It must be noted that not all information in
the early volumes are reliable, although there are some extremely engaging
hunting yarns and some really humorous nature writing especially by the
founding editor Eha (E H Aitken) of the JBNHS.

The pricing for the amount of pains taken and money spent is extremely low
and one wonders why the BNHS would put that cost since it is likely to
encourage piracy while earning little (even if there would be no piracy).
But perhaps as they say "piracy is the best form of flattery" and one would
hope that the BNHS pre-empts this by making the contents free on their site,
and tie up with larger projects such as the Biodiversity Heritage Library
(http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/) and feed into the ambitious
Encylopaedia of Life project (www.eol.org).

One act of unselfishness can only be paid back by more acts of unselfishness
and perhaps the best way for owners of the DVD to give back something is to
ensure that the nuggets of information they find are reviewed and
synthesized witht citations into the relevant pages on open-access
information centralization projects such as Wikipedia. It is easy to take
more than to give back when it comes to information on the Internet and it
is perhaps time that articles on Indian birds catch up with the featured
article quality status that articles on birds from the Australian, British
and North American regions frequently achieve thanks to the enormous amount
of accessible material that are produced by research organizations such as
the BTO, USGS (FWS) and CSIRO.

I cannot but encourage every literate amateur naturalist and career
biologist not only to obtain a (non-pirated) copy of the DVD but to go
beyond the bowerbirds to share your findings to produce a coherent body of
research that would aid further learning.

best wishes
Shyamal
ps: In case you are interested in trying your hand at contributing to group
scholarship, get hold of the DVD and try to improve for instance the content
of these sample common-bird-articles on the English Wikipedia (if you are
good at English try refining the text, if you are good at other languages,
try translating these to the other language versions of Wikipedia, you can
even just read, comment or ask questions about the article on the "talk
page" of the articles). It is an educational experience to learn to read and
reconstruct summaries while being careful to cite the primary sources of
information.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Drongo
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oriental_Magpie_Robin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-vented_Bulbul
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-whiskered_Bulbul
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pied_Bushchat
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-wattled_Lapwing
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow-wattled_Lapwing
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Coucal
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Robin
... and finally someday perhaps all the birds of India...


__._,_.___
Messages in this topic (1) Reply (via web post) | Start a new topic
Messages | Files | Photos | Links | Database
PLEASE TRIM YOUR QUOTES TO THE NEEDED PARTS AND POST ALL CONSERVATION
RELATED MAILS TO BNGCORE!
MARKETPLACE

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From kitchen basics to easy recipes - join the Group from Kraft Foods

Change settings via the Web (Yahoo! ID required)
Change settings via email: Switch delivery to Daily Digest | Switch
format to Traditional
Visit Your Group | Yahoo! Groups Terms of Use | Unsubscribe Recent Activity
a.. 8New Members
Visit Your Group
Yahoo! Finance
It's Now Personal

Guides, news,

advice & more.

Yahoo! Groups
Cat Zone

Connect w/ others

who love cats.

Y! Groups blog
the best source

for the latest

scoop on Groups.
.

__,_._,___


--
Warm regards,

Ashwin Baindur
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Col Ashwin Baindur
OIC Corps Archive & Museum,
CME, Dapodi Pune 411031
-------------------------------------------
Tel:020-27147976 (R), Mob :09923454462
Alternate email:ashwin....@gmail.com
Blog: http://thebutterflydiaries.wordpress.com/
------------------------------------------------------------------------
''We who cut mere stones must always be envisioning cathedrals.''

- Quarry worker's creed
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chandan Haldar

unread,
Feb 23, 2009, 12:03:11 PM2/23/09
to indiantreepix
Hi,

Does anyone here know the way to buy this DVD or if it is on sale yet?
I checked the BNHS website but could not find any mention of this DVD there.

Regards.

Chandan


> <snip>


> BNHS (2009) Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society: One Hundred
> Volumes of [the] JBNHS.
> DVD published by BNHS, Bombay. Rs 1000
>
> This DVD was released a couple of days ago at the 125th year celebrations of
> the Bombay Natural History Society. I had seen a preview of the contents
> some years ago thanks to Kumaran Sathasivam and Joseph Joy and having spent
> many years browsing through the yellowed and brittle pages of the journal in
> the GKVK library more than ten years ago I knew the non-monetary value of
> the DVD. By a strange quirk, whenever I needed to look up a reference from
> the JBNHS, it would turn out that the particular volume or specific pages
> that I needed would be missing from the volumes at my University library. I
> later had a chance glance at the volumes in the BNHS library and they looked
> like a stack of broken "papads" held precariously between binding. Not
> encouraging to researchers.

> <snip>

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages