A fine evening to you, good reader. As you may be well aware, I consider it my sworn duty to bring you the juiciest, meatiest, something-elseiest links and stories, fetching them from the murky depths of our Internet. Truly, I have been places mere mortals ought never tread on this vast web, and yet I return to present these living treasures to you, quivering and steaming on a silver platter. The links, that is. Yes, I steam them. It’s an arduous process, but I love you.
Today, friends, I have discovered something so incredibly cool and stupid that it boggles the mind. Geocaching! What is it, you ask? (After I link to an FAQ even? Don’t you people click links?) Let’s say that you’ve got a bunch of people with handheld GPS devices that tell them their exact current location on this planet to within 20 feet. What would they all do with that sort of technology? I’ll tell you what.
They get a small, watertight container of some kind and make a little mini-treasure to put into the container (be it trinkets, a secret message, a CD, anything interesting will do) and they go somewhere. Anywhere. No, seriously, anywhere on the darn planet. But probably somewhere near their home. And they hide the plastic container with the mini-treasure inside it (called a "cache" by the cool kids) and take note of the GPS coordinates at which it is hidden using the handy-dandy GPS device. Then they give their hiding spot a title and post the title and coordinates to the Geocaching site. And then they wait for one of the other people with a GPS device to find it, and there are further opportunities of interaction through the cache by leaving messages to other treasure hunters in a little notebook inside the cache. Do you feel that? That’s what it feels like when your mind boggles!
When I first saw this, I simply couldn’t decide if it was extremely cool or extremely stupid. But as my good friend Andy Fast is fond of saying, it’s “… a little from Column A, a little from Column B.” Yes it is. If GPS devices didn’t cost $100 (at the cheap end) I would jump at the chance to do this. They’ve even got little things called Travel Bugs which I’m still struggling to understand, but treasure hunters who find a cache with a Travel Bug inside it are supposed to physically move the bug to another cache as a favor to the person who first planted there. The bugs eventually move across continents and across the world, in small journeys. And it’s all recorded on the web at that website. It’s fascinating stuff.
The thing I like about this is that it is an entirely original idea (when’s the last time a pirate buried a treasure in the hopes someone else would find it?) and it’s not being pushed by a corporation or even popular culture. The idea has created a little subculture and community on the web (and because of the web) by its sheer merit, and now there are lots of crazy people driving/walking around, GPS in hand, looking for little plastic containers with notebooks inside them, hoping to leave a message. That’s the power of the Internet.
Man, I am so excited about web design. But that’s another entry.
Peanut Gallery questions: What would you put in your cache? If someone gave you a GPS device as a gift, would you participate in the Geocaching community?