Tech Walk

Normally, I wouldn’t consider writing a blog post about the time I spend out in the woods. I rarely take pictures as part of some last ditch effort to try and separate technology from nature by leaving phones and cameras behind and trying to internalize as much as I can. Normally, I get a little bit irritated when I hear speakers playing music at the beach or at campsites and when I see peoples faces buried in their phones, taking in the world around them by looking through their miniscule lens. In the words of Tree (Kyle), who dropped in on some of our classes this past semester “I prefer FaceWorld.” I like technology, gadgets, apps, nerding out on sound and video quality, but for some reason I prefer to keep it all very separate from the woods, mountains and beaches. Oliver Kellhammer, or okellhammer as he goes by on the multi-mentioned app iNaturalist, has developed a much more hybridized method of interacting with technology while out amongst nature, which has started to grow on me. I suppose it starts with his perspective being such that wilderness, to begin with, is a myth. It’s a narrative that only exists as a result of human discourse around it, so by this logic I suppose I should be less concerned about separating technology. iNaturalist is a mobile app that allows species to be documented, dated, photographed and uploaded over a map, that can be viewed by all the app’s users however they so choose. It’s essentially a species catalogue for plants, birds, insects around the world.

Oliver’s aka “Allover’s” tracks through Whaletown

Now that I’m at home at my desk, I’m able to check it out without jeopardizing my dwindling moral stance on where I can use my phone. In terms of a developing iNaturalist community, it seems to be quite common for users to frequent certain locations, uploading multiple species for small areas. If your feeling nostalgic or wish you could have been there on the walk through Whaletown Commons with Oliver, take a look at the entries on Cortes Island and you’ll find lots of interesting species to look up and learn about. There’s significant potential for iNaturalist to grow into a pretty spectacular resource, and it’s clear that some users are set on making that happen, but I still have some reservations about people focusing too much on taking a photograph and not paying attention to what they’re stepping on, or off of.