Can Technology Compliment Our Time In Wilderness?


I have always had a passion for spending time in nature. Before I moved to Washington DC and the New York City I used to spend much of my free time pursuing outdoor adventure sports like fly fishing, mountaineering and mountain biking. My major in college was environmental science focusing on policy issues.

I also had the chance to spend a semester with NOLS which furthered my love of wilderness and the power of transformative travel.

Typically, we think of consumer technology as being at odds with nature. Expect to get death stares if you choose to spend your hike talking on your cell phone. I have recently spent more time thinking about ways in which technology that can seen a complement to our time in nature.

My interest in the intersection of technology (startups) and nature led me to read the amazing biography of Yvonne Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. This is must read for all entrepreneurs. Patagonia has become such an iconic brand and it’s done it the right way – everyone from customers to employees adores the company. They have also used innovations in materials and processing to constantly innovate developing products that enrich out time outdoors.

Along these same lines, the Wall Street Journal recently highlighted a nature-complimentary technology: an iOS app called Birder. Birder can identify any North American bird song within 15 seconds (think Shazam for birds). Night Sky is another amazing app that uses your phone’s camera and augmented reality to identify various stars, planets and constellations.

The intersection of online and offline is an area that fascinates me and consumer technologies that can compliment our time in nature are especially fascinating – and few and far between.

Do you know of other apps or technologies you think enhance rather than detract from your time in the wild?


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