The IOC editorial Office opened its doors for business at the beginning of July 1997. Some two years later, this CD-ROM represents the culmination of our endeavours. The production of this CD-ROM has, somewhat surprisingly perhaps, been an immensely satisfying task. This has been due largely to the hugely gratifying positive response by delegates to the Congress. After some gentle encouragement from us, we have ended up with 227 full-length symposium papers out of a total of 244 that were presented (93 % success)!

The contents of this CD-ROM represent a nearly complete record of the proceedings of the 22nd International Ornithological Congress held in Durban, South Africa from 16-22 August 1998. The ten plenary papers are published simultaneously as hardcopy in Ostrich Volume 70, Part 1 (1999) which represents the primary source for this literature. We have included them here for convenience and completeness. The bulk of the content comprises the symposia full-length papers. The abstracts of authors that attended the conference, but that did not submit full-length papers are included. Convenors were provided the opportunity to submit an extended abstract of the symposium after the congress. These are also included as summaries for each symposium. Round table discussions are summarised by extended abstracts that were provided after the congress, or by their original abstract as published in the congress abstracts. For completeness we present the unrevised abstracts of all oral and poster presentations which were presented at the congress. The original source for these remains the Ostrich hard-copy publication, as indicated in the individual citations. The texts of the two invited South African lectures are presented in full. The business of the congress was collated by Professor Walter Bock, and this, and the reports of the IOC Standing Committees, complete the record of the Congress.

The symposia papers alone would extend to 3164 pages of printed A4 text in the Ostrich format. The total volume of the content runs to 3672 printed pages. Printing of such a tome would be prohibitively expensive, and result in an extended delay in publication. The executive committee of  the IOC decided to opt for publication in an electronic medium. This congress proceedings will serve as a test-run for future congresses. Some authors were reluctant to publish full symposia papers because of anticipated delays of several years, and limited readership. We hope that we have demonstrated that timely production is possible (printing within eight months of the congress), and that time will reveal result in a the wide dissemination of the content. We have been proactive in this regard and have submitted the CD-ROM to major abstracting services and to ornithological journals for review. Delegates are urged to encourage libraries and other interested individuals to order copies of the CD-ROM! The Natural History Book Service will act as distributors of the CD-ROM.

The use of an electronic medium for publication has speeded publication, reduced production costs and enabled us to replace the more traditional printed index with a comprehensive search engine. This allows the entire contents (excluding tables and figures) to be searched by key word! We hope that this will provide and encourage access to symposia beyond the immediate field of interest of readers, and thus encourage wider dissemination of content. There has, however, been of necessity a compromise. The publication (excluding Plenaries) has been aimed at electronic copy, i.e. on-screen viewing. This may lead to potential problems with production of hard-copy by readers when printing from old versions of web browsers. Also implicit in electronic production is the lack of hard-copy reprints for dissemination by authors. Instructions as to how to deal with these problems are provided in a separate section on instructions for printing and instructions for sending reprints.

At the start of the process the editors in consultation with the Secretary-General of the Congress, Aldo Berruti and the Chairperson of the Scientific Programme Committee, Lukas Jenni, made the decision that the philosophy driving the process would be speed of publication. In keeping with this philosophy we devolved responsibility of reviewing and ‘front-line editing’ of symposium papers to symposium convenors and co-convenors. We thank the convenors and co-convenors for their assistance with this process. It must be due largely to their cajoling and powers of persuasion that we had this remarkable response. We believe that it is the magnitude and breath of this response that makes this publication so valuable in providing ‘state of the art’ reviews of modern ornithology at the end of the millennium.

All papers were sent out in electronic format to convenors for ‘page-proofing’. Despite this, there will be some formatting inconsistencies that have crept through the process. The extent of these inconsistencies will differ depending on the software used to view the contents. We decided that we would rather accept responsibily for this, than delay the publication date for the many months necessary to page-proof each individual paper ourselves. We feel strongly that the lack of some final polish is more than compensated for by the rapid publication production.

Most of the credit for the smooth functioning of the editorial office must go to the Managing Editor, Gill Browne who has been with us from the start of the project and did most of the actual work. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to her. In addition to all the editing duties, Gill was the front person at the end of the computer, processing and replying to all incoming mail. Our ability to produce this publication speedily was made possible in part by our use of modern computer technology but this in turn brought its own problems for our support staff. We handled somewhere in the order of eight thousand in coming messages and sent out at least that many. These were generated mostly from the 1083 registered delegates from 68 countries. Gill was ably supported by our two editorial assistants, initially Angela Martin and then Cheryl Whitmore, and a great bunch of long suffering undergraduate and graduate students called in at moments of crisis, particularly Chantal Retief, Debbie Weldon, Julian Saunders and Karen Duxbury.

None of this would have happened without the vision of Dr. Aldo Berruti. In his role as both Secretary-General of the 22nd IOC and Executive Director of BirdLife South Africa, Aldo provided a huge amount of moral, logistical and financial support to the endeavour. BirdLife South Africa underwrote the congress, bearing the financial risk associated with organising and running the event.  Marketing arrangements and pricing of congress products, including this CD-ROM, were undertaken by Aldo Berruti in this dual capacity. Tim Wood’s tight, but flexible and encouraging, control of the purse-strings has been central to these high-quality products. Professor Steven Piper provided much valuable advice at the beginning of the process. Professor John Cooke, Head of the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Natal, allowed us the latitude to invest a substantial amount of time to this task and even said yes to us clogging up a considerable amount of laboratory space for the best part of two years. The University Executive, and specifically, Professor Ahmed Bawa, Vice-Principle Academic, provided additional support and in particular extended our credit line to solve cash flow concerns at the beginning of the project. Professor Peter Berthold, President of the 22nd IOC, and Professor Walter Bock, Permanent Secretary of the IOC, provided well- timed encouragement.

The Editorial Staff of Ostrich, and in particular Felicia Stoch, provided us with expertise, feedback, and the capacity for the production of the hard-copy volumes of Ostrich. We were responsible for the complete editorial process for the plenary papers. Editors of Journals to whom we submit our own papers now have our eternal respect! All plenary papers went out to at least two reviewers. Our reviewers of the plenary papers were extremely co-operative, all returning their comments to the editorial office in record time. We much appreciate their contribution. The guinea pigs who acted as beta-testers of the CD-ROM received a sneak preview, but at expense of having to check out the systems. We sincerely thank all of these external participants in the process.

The people who share our personal and work environments have contributed to the quality of the product through their encouragement and latitude in allowing us to carry work everywhere with us, and to deal with those cranky periods that inevitably occur around deadlines.

The eventual success of this venture will rest on the quality of the science. For this we thank the contributors for their faith in the process, and in us. We are certainly proud of the product and hope that we leave a legacy that will encourage future congress organisers to continue to publish the proceedings in full.

Making rain for African ornithology

Nigel Adams and Rob Slotow

Co-editors (order selected alphabetically)

Durban, May 1999.