The BMS websites – a message from the Webmaster
The website of the British Mycological Society is at http://www.britmycolsoc.org.uk. The website is primarily a Society website, which aims to provide a service to members in as many ways as possible. On the site you will find information about all aspects of BMS activities and hundreds of other links to other Internet sites and other items of interest (including links to copies of all BMS documents and application forms).
When you first arrive at the home page you will see a cross-section of a fungal hypha in the middle and a list of hyperlinks to “Departments” on the right hand side of this. These links take you to pages of information about the major administrative areas, like Membership, Meetings and Forays, Publications, Education, and so on. Nestled in amongst these links is one called “Resources” and THAT’S where we keep the best stuff! You will find here a link to Databases, Directories and Keys that will provide access to the BMS Fungal Records Database and a great deal more. There are more than 600 hyperlinks in the Resources part of the site, so it’s well worth surfing around to get to know it.
We’d particularly like to highlight the BMS shopping Mall (within the Resources area). Use the Shopping Mall and you bring money into mycology because the Society receives commission from the retailers; and we have this sort of arrangement with some top High Street stores. The way it works is that you use your mouse to “click through” from the BMS Shopping Mall (and it IS IMPORTANT that you start the process from the BMS website) to a retailer’s website and the two computers exchange information. A fraction of what you spend is paid to the Society (as a “thank-you” for bringing the customer and retailer together). It’s only a small fraction, typically around 3%, but if you made all your Tesco Internet purchases this way, and maybe bought all your Amazon books and CDs too, then you could easily generate £10 or £20 commission in a year. And if all 2000 members of the Society did just that each year (and encouraged their friends to go Internet shopping via the BMS Shopping Mall too) – well, you can work it out for yourself, but obviously, Society funds could benefit significantly. As Society funds are spent on Society activities, we will be able to sponsor more mycology and you will eventually benefit from a wider range of cheaper activities.
The final message is: surf around the BMS website to find out what your website has to offer YOU. If you think of something that we should cover, but you can’t find, then contact the webmaster and complain – his email address is on every page!
January 2006 saw the launch of the Society’s education website at http://www.fungi4schools.org/, published as part of our attempts to compensate for the deficiencies in UK school education. Teaching of biology in schools in the United Kingdom emphasises comparison of plants and animals – the GCSE Science National Curriculum specification doesn’t mention fungi. During the past few years we have contributed a ‘Funky Fungus’ workshop to several Summer Schools and Science Week events aimed at school pupils in years 8 to 11 and at some point early in the proceedings we ask the question “Are fungi animals, plants, bacteria, or something different from all of these?” The overwhelming majority of these pupils reply that fungi are bacteria. Clearly, something is seriously lacking in our educational system if so many children can end their statutory education at age 16 knowing next to nothing about the fungi that make up the largest kingdom of higher, eukaryotic, organisms.