At the ScienceOnline2010 conference in January, Internet-savvy writers and researchers were abuzz over RECTEXT (www.rectext.org), a North Carolina Sea Grant project that helps tournament fishermen report their catch data using cell phone text messaging.
Sea Grant fisheries specialist Scott Baker and his collaborator, software developer Ian Oeschger, demonstrated RECTEXT at the international event held annually in Research Triangle Park. Cosponsored by North Carolina Sea Grant, ScienceOnline convenes scientists, journalists and students to share ideas on how to communicate science through multimedia and online tools such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
Recreational fishing data is often difficult to collect. RECTEXT could contribute valuable information to state and federal managers, potentially improving their assessment of gamefish populations. Baker is conducting further RECTEXT trials with the help of N.C. Coastal Recreational Fishing License funds (see Coastwatch Spring 2009).
This synergy of mobile phone technology with scholarly research wowed the bloggers, filmmaters and podcasters in attendance. Many “tweeted” the experience live from the session, posting short telegrams to Twitter, a public website viewed by millions around the globe.
In abbreviated grammar typical of tweets, one user quickly wrote: “about to report my fishing catch via SMS, to demo collecting data.”
Another user tweeted: “Fish-twitter is amazing! Prob challenging to get set up but super cool real time fisheries data. Go NC Sea Grant!”
Symbolic of the instantaneous, social-networking theme of the conference, a video excerpt of Baker’s talk was publicly posted to the YouTube website before session had even concluded.
“Ian and I were amazed at the audience interaction,” Baker says. “We’ve really enjoyed working with fishermen to develop RECTEXT, but getting feedback from this high-tech crowd was also a great experience.”
Watch Baker’s RECTEXT demo at the conference:
Part 1 of 2: http://www.youtube.com/user/NCSeaGrant#p/u/8/7e5PFciH3qI
Part 2 of 2: http://www.youtube.com/user/NCSeaGrant#p/u/7/44GDueC4rzs
Watch an excerpt of Baker’s “citizen science” panel discussion at the conference:
If your fishing tournament would like to use RECTEXT, contact Scott Baker at email@example.com.
This article was published in the Spring 2010 issue of Coastwatch.
For contact information and reprint requests, visit ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/coastwatch/contact/.