Theory into Practice…

Two Egyptian Geese on the banks of a pond in South Africa
(George is on the bank, Gracie in the water – in the background is a guinea fowl – one of the most delightful birds to watch)

Well, I experienced what has to be the epitome of this course’s title…social computing at its best.

Back to the Pond, and my little love-geese, the Egyptian geese who sit at the water’s edge every night. George and Gracie – so named by moi-même (*g*) and the names stuck to the point of being used by National Geographic personnel!

Friday night, I read a post the the geese had been stalked by a hyena – and after some “horrible goose noises”, neither had been seen. Yes, I need a life, yes, I’m way too attached to a couple of birds halfway around the world who are destined to become hyena food or a lioness snack someday anyway. But I got worried. (yes I am grinning sheepishly but hey, I wasn’t alone!) I posted to the list that I would really like to see the geese, it would put my mind at ease. Several people said they’d THOUGHT they had caught a glimpse of the birds but then they weren’t so sure. I was concerned…

Went into the yahoo chat room – this is a room that is created whenever a yahoo group is established. Every yahoo group has file upload capabilities, messages and posts and chat features directly on its home page. A few of us were trying the chat room this week. That evening, I went in, and no one had seen George and Gracie. I knew this was insanely overdoing it but I just could not help it..!

There is a “pondie” on our list named Armel – a very pleasant, friendly man in Arkansas (originally from Orleans, France). He had mentioned a couple of times that he was chatting with “the famous Dr. Z” – Dr. Zox is a gentleman in Maryland – not sure how he is affiliated but he is (self-named) the remote camera guru. Once when the camera was down, he was on the phone to Real Networks in Seattle, and online with Mara, the camera operator in Botswana. Armel had some insider info for us, and had told us right from Dr. Z’s lips, what was happening with the camera.

The dawn broke in Africa (11:30 p.m. our time), the night after the birds went missing, and I posted to the list that this was not a good thing but I was rather concerned. Others joined me in the same emotion, and a person posted that she HAD seen them before sunrise. I thanked her but mentioned I’d be happy to see them for myself. Armel wrote to the list, “Lissa, would you be happy with a close-up?” and thinking he had a screenshot, I said “That would be awesome!”

In the chatroom, we can continue to watch RealPlayer (I’m even doing so now as I write this – the player can stay “on top” even while other tasks are being performed). Bunch of us were chatting, and suddenly there was a zoomed-in shot of two VERY noisy Egyptian geese – George and Gracie! Someone in the room said, “Lissa, there’s your closeup!” I was thrilled (as you might imagine) and rather relieved. (and before anyone goes and makes the “crazy woman” sign in front of my blog, I was NOT the only one *g*)

After a few minutes of taking continuous screenshots, I went back to the chatroom. As we were talking, Armel entered. He said, “Lissa, did you get your close-up?” I smiled and said yes, and then it dawned on me. I said, “Wait, Armel…did you do that??” He said yes.

He had – either on IM or in email – asked Dr. Z (in Maryland) to ask Mara (in Botswana) to zoom in on those geese…because this list member in Montreal was worried about their well-being!!! So for at least 15 minutes, George and Gracie were front and center for anyone (everyone) around the globe who was watching…just to reassure me…! Now…if that isn’t Social Computing – what is???

In fact – 12:42 a.m. right now and a list member named Rhonda just posted to the list:

For Lissa – George and Gracie are fine. George is mouthing off, as usual.


I feel extremely lucky to be a part of such a caring group. I have always loved animals, always cared about their welfare…and to connect with people who obviously share that to the degree that I do, and to do it in such a magical place (the Wildcam) is what it’s all about.

Our latest cause célèbre is Weeble – this is a young elephant who does not seem to be well. For 2 days, he has been at the Pond non-stop. He is a solitary elephant who plays with, rather than drinks, the water, and who submerges himself for long periods of time. He seems to be weak, too skinny, and at times just stands at the embankment, not able – it seems – to raise his leg to exit the Pond, and rests his trunk upon the water’s edge. It was disconcerting from the start but is now even more disturbing, as we wondered – over this past evening – every time his trunk submerged, if it would resurface for another breath. He was at the Pond all night – mostly in the water. At one point, another elephant joined him – almost standing guard as he performed this ritual. It was shivers-inducing.

On the Blog at the Nat’l Geo site, many many other “viewers” are worried about Weeble. They are pleading with Pete – the gentleman who carved out this little oasis – to intervene on the elephant’s behalf. Not sure how this will play out – but it is definitely (in the words of one of the list members) “the ultimate reality show”.

And it has brought together people from all across the globe, on the site’s Blog, on the email list, and in a chatroom where we talk about everything from kids to families to our careers or academic pursuits.

There will be another entry shortly after this one – I brought up the topic of our course, and a few of us engaged in discourse about those who “get it” and those who don’t. It was then that I wrote the list, asking if there is anyone who minds my quoting or paraphrasing some of the wonderful statements, thoughts, philosophies which emerge from the posts, those which are relevant to social computing. Thus far, no one seems to object.

The Pond has brought together many people in all walks of life. Today, we acknowledged – with graphics, posts, and emails – the birthday of our list founder. Suddenly, we are not strangers sharing screenshots (grrrrrrrrreat alliteration!) – but we are friends finding friendship (MORE alliteration!) – and all because we have the common interest of a technological window on the world…

This world might be complicated – but it’s the slices of fresh air and sunshine that make it a little more palatable and a lot more interesting!

(Off to watch Weeble – he’s submerged again…*sighs*)

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