Mycology: Science or Hobby? A Modest Proposal
joeh at biddeford.com
Thu Oct 26 02:36:32 EST 1995
I don't see why this forum can't be use for "Pros" and "Hobbyists" alike.
The problem with this forum is its non-use. Not much of anything is said
On 25 Oct 1995, Steve Pencall wrote:
> Date: 25 OCT 1995 21:33:51 GMT
> From: Steve Pencall <spencal at nextlab7.calstatela.edu>
> Newgroups: bionet.mycology
> Subject: Mycology: Science or Hobby? A Modest Proposal
> Mycology: Science or Hobby? A Modest Proposal
> (NOTE: This is a lengthy post--I even spell-checked it. However, I urge
> bionet.mycology users to read all of it before hitting "Delete." In fact,
> I would urge you to forward this post to friends or colleagues who only
> occasionally read bionet.mycology. It is my hope that discussion of, and
> eventual action on, this proposal will prevent the possibility of any
> conflict about the content of bionet.mycology.)
> Before I get to the heart of my proposal, I should note that I have long
> eschewed the use of the term "hobby" for amateur mycology. I prefer to
> use "avocation" as I believe that it better describes the approach of many
> amateurs to mycology.
> Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary tells us that avocation is "a
> subordinate occupation pursued in addition to one's vocation especially
> for enjoyment." A vocation is of course, one's regular employment.
> Webster's defines hobby as "a pursuit outside of one's regular occupation
> engaged in for relaxation."
> Although the difference is subtle, there is an unmistakable suggestion
> that although both refer to leisure activities, "avocation" refers to a
> deeper commitment to that activity. In popular usage, "hobby" has often
> been used to imply an activity used to while away leisure hours, while
> "avocation" is generally used to describe something which is seriously
> pursued to add meaning to those leisure hours. In short, "hobby" suggests
> something trivial, "avocation" something of greater significance.
> Anyway, I find it an eerie coincidence that as I was walking back to my
> car last Friday afternoon (Oct. 20) after sending e-mail to several
> mycological correspondents, I was thinking "What a shame it is that there
> is no UseNet newsgroup specifically for amateur mycologists!" On the
> drive home from school through LA rush hour traffic, I cogitated on the
> matter and thought about it from every angle conceivable to me.
> Blissfully unaware of what was going on in the ether around me, I came up
> with a proposal to (possibly) solve this "problem," as well as answers to
> what I believe are most of the possible objections to it.
> When I checked into the mycology newsgroup on Monday, October 23 and read
> the post from John Pitkin and the thread that followed, the feeling of
> deja vu that overcame me was almost (but not quite) enough to make me
> believe in such a thing. Anyway, here goes.
> THE MODEST PROPOSAL
> Start a NEW newsgroup for amateur mycologists in the rec. group,
> tentatively to be called rec.mushrooms. This assumes that such a new
> group can be established, i.e. develop sufficient online support to
> impress the UseNet overlords that such a new group is as vital to the
> future of humanity as the alt.sex groups and others. As has often been
> noted, UseNet is NOT a democracy, so such a proposal will have to get
> solid support from the online mycology community, amateurs and pros,
> otherwise it will fall faster than a deliquescing Coprinus.
> I realize that right away some people will object, while others will
> simply be bewildered. I have anticipated most of the objections and
> questions, so BEFORE you warm up the flame-thrower, please read on.
> QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
> 1. Q. What's wrong with bionet.mycology?
> A. There is nothing "wrong" with bionet.mycology. It is just not the
> most appropriate place for amateurs. Many amateurs, especially those new
> to mycology, check into bionet.mycology and are confused or turned off
> when they see "Tenure track position in Plant Pathology" or "14th
> International Symposium on Zygomycetes"--my abject apologies to
> zygomycologists. Several amateurs have told me that they checked out
> bionet.mycology a few times, found it not to their liking, and haven't
> gone back. Some feel intimidated by posts that they don't understand, or
> may feel like they are trespassing on the turf of academics. Even if you
> put out the welcome mat, some people will be turned off by what they see
> To use a nineties term, amateurs need their own "space". Even if "most"
> of the pros on bionet.mycology are friendly and helpful, amateurs feel
> like guests, not residents. Amateurs need a place to be themselves; to be
> able to swap recipes or collecting tips. As much as love bionet.mycology
> and I do, it is NOT that place. Many amateurs feel as though they are
> being judged, and it is not a comfortable feeling.
> 2. Q. Why put the new group in the rec. groups?
> A. For the reasons I have mentioned above. The whole bionet looks like
> academic turf to a lot of Netizens--be on your best behavior lest someone
> swat you with a virtual ruler for getting out of line. I've lurked on
> quite a few of the rec. groups and people seem to be a lot more relaxed
> and informal in them, and that should facilitate communication between
> group participants. Isn't communication what the UseNet is all about?
> 3. Q. As has been pointed out, bionet.mycology has very little traffic.
> Won't TWO groups be starved for traffic?
> A. I'm sure that someone told Sam Walton that his first WalMart would
> be starved for traffic. Anything is possible of course, but I think not.
> I believe the audience of each group will feel a sense of freedom, even
> liberation, that is bound to result in an increase in traffic in both
> groups. Professionals will be liberated from wading through "trivia", and
> amateurs can feel free to express themselves without fear of disapproval
> from the pros.
> After a period of adjustment, traffic in both groups will climb because a
> tighter focus on the real interests of each community will make each group
> more attractive to its respective audience. It is a demonstrable truth of
> economics that having more choices always means more customers. Let us
> not forget that all mycologists, both pros and amateurs, will benefit by
> having more of us communicating online. WE ALL WANT MORE CUSTOMERS!
> 4. Q. Won't communication between amateur and professional mycologists be
> hindered by fragmentation of one of their few common outlets?
> A. No, this assumes that amateurs and pros will go their separate
> ways--never to meet again. As long as both groups are aware of one
> another, this should not be a problem. People can (and should) configure
> their newsreaders to receive both groups. I expect that frequent
> cross-postings, casual references to postings in the other group, and
> mention of the other group in the FAQ's should alert sentient habitues of
> one group to the existence of the other. I don't worry too much about the
> non-sentient habitues, do you?
> 5. Q. Isn't starting a new newsgroup a lot of work?
> A. Probably. I've never done it. Any volunteers?
> I welcome additional questions, comments or suggestions, but most of all I
> would welcome the earnest efforts of ALL online mycologists, amateur as
> well as professional, to get behind the establishment of a REAL HOME for
> amateur mycologists on the UseNet.
> Steve Pencall
> <spencal at nextlab.calstatela.edu>
> Editor, The Spore Print
> Journal of the Los Angeles Mycological Society
> "Leave the beaten path and dive into the woods"
> --Alexander Graham Bell
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