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HowMuch is Too MuchWilderness Technology?


nyone who’s spent time in the

wilderness understands its uniquely

special qualities: the sight of wildlife

going about their business, the calming

effect of being amidst acres of pine trees,

and the complete quiet broken only by

sounds of wind, a crackling campfire,

or a softly babbling stream. So, does

it make sense to bring elements of our

everyday technology into that environ-

ment? Some places already encourage

you to do so, such as campgrounds and

national parks. But opponents say the

more technology we bring into the

wilderness, the less special it becomes.

Pros and Cons

A national park app could explain about

wildlife, poisonous plants to avoid, and

hiking trail locations. But some believe this

type of engagement detracts from direct

experience and leads to “connectivity

creep.” This means you use the app and

decide as long as you’re on your phone,

you might as well check Facebook; pretty

soon you’re writing emails, setting up

meetings, and moving money between

bank accounts. All these things can be

done at home, so why come to the out-

doors at all?

There’s something to be said for unplug-

ging entirely—and the wilderness is a

great place to do it—but not everyone

is ready for that level of disengagement.

Ask yourself if a tech-free trip is worth

the price of not being able to post a photo

from the top of a mountain in real time.

The Bottom Line

Fortunately, connection in the wilderness

doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing

choice. You can use the aspects of it that

work best for you. Bring your phone with

you, for instance, but put it on airplane

mode and use it only for photos. The

deciding factor should be whether your

devices enhance or detract from your

enjoyment of an outdoor adventure.

Explore theWorld

fromHome with

GoogleMaps Treks

Google has taken Street View one step

further to map remote areas of the

world. Using a device called the Trek-

ker, Google collects imagery of some

of the most famous places on Earth

as well as lesser-known sites. Toward

these ends, Google partners with

organizations like the Charles Darwin

Foundation, the Jane Goodall Institute,

and the Apa Sherpa Foundation.

Treks use Street View supplemented

with still images, video, text, and

HTML5 to create a more immersive

experience. Users can take self-guided

journeys to places they hope to visit

or those to which they may never

go. People who want to get more

involved can volunteer to add imagery

to Google Maps through the Trekker

Loan Program.


The Wilderness Act

of 1964 created a definition for

“wilderness” and protected 9.1

million acres of federal land.