Technology in the Great Outdoors

Camera at Twicket

While doing something else this morning, I caught a brief snatch of Martha Lane Fox, the Government’s Digital Inclusion Champion, on Radio 4, trying to persuade a digital refusenik (sorry, I didn’t catch his name) of the benefits of getting online. During the discussion, that regular assumption came up that being online must always involve sitting indoors at a computer. Martha attempted to show her target some pictures of flowers online, while he continued to protest that she was trying to divert him from the pleasures of being out in the meadows among the real flowers.

I think it is one of the barriers to technology adoption, that people believe all the scare stories about how people are not going outdoors any more because technology is keeping them in darkened rooms. But, what about all the technologies, like SatNav, GPS, etc., that facilitate people getting out there and exploring? As the use of portable devices, including laptops, smartphones and tablets, increases, the opportunities to be outside with your new technologies are increasing all the time, and social networks and other facilities allow you to share your outdoor experiences, as well as enhancing them by allowing you to pick up information about your surroundings.

Of course, one of the big issues with outdoor technology is that thorny issue of connectivity. 3G access can be patchy and expensive (unless you have an “all-you-can-eat” data plan), and, in the UK, wifi hotspots can be few and far between, and, even where they exist they can be expensive. In the United States, Google, for instance, sponsors lots of public wifi hotspots, many of which are in public parks. I would love to see something similar developing here.

But, there is so much you can do in the great outdoors with technology these days. The #twicket initiative, where we did the first ever live broadcast of a village cricket match, was, in part, an attempt to demonstrate this.

twicket tech

I want to help stimulate a movement for innovative uses of technology outdoors. Some of the things I am looking to do, following on from #twicket, in this field (not always in fields) are:

  • Social Media Surgery in a tent (at the Great Yorkshire Show);
  • Encouraging live streaming of informal public performances;
  • wifi in public parks
  • #twicket2 – cricket tournament on Blackpool Beach
  • Mobile Social Media Surgery (I’m still looking for sponsorship to convert my caravan)
  • Live-streaming local cultural events
If you can think of any more, or if you are doing something else. Please let me know in the comments below.