'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Friday, April 07, 2006

Geocaching - Probably Not The New Rock'n'Roll

The Intrepid Mountaineer & I had one of our regular project meetings the other day - in the course of a walk from his house, up the lane past The Greatest Living Cumbrian's country cottage, and on to the summit of Binsey, the outlying tump of volcanic rock that dominates the canvases of Sheila Fell and from whose summit stunning views of Scotland, the Pennines and the Cumbrian Mountains may be enjoyed. It was a cold, sunny day with a fierce wind from the north-east, and traces of verglas still smeared the rocks. We'd finished the business of the meeting before we reached the top, and the Intrepid Mountaineer mentioned he'd discovered something distinctly odd thereabouts the previous week. The something odd turned out to be a geocache. A What? A geocache. Precisely, a tupperware box stuffed full of Xmas-cracker type gifts and hidden beneath a pile of stones a few yards below the summit. This, he explained to me, was geocaching. Not really a sport, more a gigantic worldwide parlour game, enabled by GPS and the internet. Put simply, someone hides a cache of odd objects, and then publishes its location on a website. Interested others visit and remove or deposit items. Sometimes the items have been committed to the cache with the purpose of a global journey. In time, they are removed from one geocache and moved on to another - with luck, bringing them closer to their intended destination.
This is, by any standards, extremely odd. Given this blog's enthusiasm for secret places, hidden patterns and clandestine networks, you'd think I'd be instantly smitten by the idea. But something's giving me pause. Partly, it's the reliance on GPS technology for the precise location of caches (I'm a firm believer in map & compasses). In theory geocaching should be the bastard offspring of Situationism and Orienteering. But I just can't get sufficiently excited about it. I have a nagging suspicion that it appeals to public schoolboys who find trainspotting dangerously edgy. Of course, I may be wrong, and it's all just a harmless new way of finding meaning in a landscape. There's a growing feeling we'll be putting this to the test in the near future by devising a Georges Perec-style aleatory circumnavigation of the globe by a cut-up image of a landscape. To what purpose is anybody's guess . . .


Blogger Viking Longship said...

Agreed, should be done with map and compass, technology takes away the challenge.

8/4/06 12:16 pm  
Blogger Nick said...

VL - absolutely. Though apparently there's a sub-groupuscule of this strange world who do underwater geo-caching (errm . . 'aqua-caching'???), which means map and compasses might have to be replaced with chart & depth-meter, or periscope, or something . . .

21/4/06 10:48 am  

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