In the blog, which is entitled “Adventure Lost“, author Tim Zimmeran ponders the impact of modern technology and communications on expeditions, both on land and sea. He remarks about how much easier it is for today’s sailors to complete a round-the-world journey thanks to satellite phones and Internet connections. He even argues that these tools take the “solo” portion out of the trip in some ways, noting that in the past, if you had an equipment failure or ran into trouble, you had to come up with a way to fix your equipment yourself. In those days, you were out on the ocean, truly by yourself, and loneliness and isolation were true issues that had to be dealt with. But today, things are different. Here’s a quote:
Think of all the time Jessica spent on the sat phone, talking to her family and shore team. Problem with the autopilot or generator? Get on the horn with the manufacturer for step-by-by step repair instructions. Feeling lonely and blue? Call up your Mum for a chat and some bucking up. Need an emotional lift? Read the comments on your blog.
The article is an interesting one, I find myself agreeing with a number of points. Things were definitely harder in the “old days”, when these high tech communications tools didn’t exist. On the other hand, in today’s world, in which many of these adventures are sponsored, and wouldn’t happen without that support, these tools serve as a link back to civilization to help keep us informed of what is going on. Updates to websites, blogs, and Facebook pages keep us coming back for the latest info, and that usually results in finding ways to get the sponsor’s logo in front of our eyes more often.
Advanced in technology are inevitable, and things change, as we all know. Today’s explorers and adventurers are going to find ways to leverage the tools that they have to make things safer and easier. But that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate what explorers went through in the past. Looking at the climbing gear that Mallory used on Everest, and comparing it to what Hillary used, you see a significant improvement. Today’s gear would seem like something out of science fiction to those guys. But do these advances in technology detract from the adventure? I’d say yes and no. I agree that the ability to communicate from just about anywhere on the planet changes the nature of a “solo” expedition, but it doesn’t detract from the accomplishments of the expedition itself.
Just how much has technology impacted the world of adventure? I’d point to another interesting quote from the story. The author says: “In 1968, sailing around the world solo and non-stop was so hard Robin Knox-Johnston could barely do it. In 2010, it is so easy a 16-year old can do it.” Hmm… when you put it that way, perhaps we have made things a bit too easy. Maybe that’s why we have 16-year olds sailing solo around the world and 13-year olds climbing Everest.
Really interesting read. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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