Monday, December 17, 2007

Outdoor junkies and tech

A comment on my recent anti-PDF screed (and I still hate 'em as they're designed around using paper) got me thinking. The question was, "Does anyone else find it amusing that a PDF topic has generated so many comments on a blog dedicated to outdoor fun & adventure? Are all outdoorsy people really just closet tech nerds?!?!"

I don't know about all outdoorsy people being tech nerds, but I am willing to bet a dual-layer DVD of my recent films that most of us are pretty into our tech, be it analog (cams, shoes, packs, tents) or digital. Most of my garage is devoted not to storing cars but more important stuff--gear. Most of my office is laden not with printed PDFs but with scanners, a dozen or so hard drives, two computers, a printer (which doesn't get much use), editing gear, cameras, GPS units, radio bits, etc. Who among us "outdoorsy" types doesn't have at least a half-dozen weather forecasts bookmarked? Plus various road condition reports, blogs, outdoor forums (for several sports), and of course five or six mailboxes devoted to upcoming trips? Plus various folders on our hard drives devoted to the same, and maybe a map program or four...

Paragliding is even worse than climbing; GPS programs, flight analysis software, digital aviation maps, etc. The truly nerdy paraglider or hang glider pilots will have a minimum of two GPS units plus two flight computers, which they fly with and then download and geek out for hours before uploading the tracks to various forums where other pilots geek out on tracks for hours... I'm sure I'm missing some stuff here but gear, be it analog or digital, is for sure a HUGE part of the outdoor game. The phrase "gear junkie" no longer applies to just outdoor gear from footwear (who among us doesn't have far more outdoor footwear than "dress" footwear?) to tents but also our digital bits.

I also suspect there are a lot of "tech" types who are outdoor junkies of one kind or another. It's certainly true in paragliding, where the stereotypical pilot is an IT guy living in a major west-coast city. Some of the responses to my, "F the PDF" post were very solid from a tech perspective (as well as grammar, sorry about that, this stuff gets written straight off the top of my head--which is likely obvious to anyone who works with words professionally). There are likely still outdoorsy people who don't spend a good chunk of each day in front of a monitor, but they're not the sort likely to post comments on a blog.

So get your tech on, yeah!

PS--someone just emailed me to explain that PDF really stands for, "Print this Damn thing and Fax back." Yep, PDFs sure are great for two-way communication in the digital age. I think I'm going to set my email up to just flat-our reject any email with a .pdf attachment along with a message that says, "You recently sent me a PDF. This shows that you really don't want a response from me, nor do you want me to be able to actually work with the data. I'm going to save us both some hassle and just ignore it."

PPS--my travel agent just sent me an itinerary in, yep, PDF format. It's a five-page document that's near-useless, although it has very nice proportions and scales well (full sarcasm). This isn't two-way communication, but it also doesn't work as I can't drop the info into my calendar, phone, etc. I think I was sort of used to the hassle of PDFs before but all this discussion has made me realize just exactly how retro and bass-ackwards they are for just about anything.


loren said...

RE PPS: You are on a mac no? If you open the PDF in the Preview program, the default unless you've installed Acrobat Reader, then you can select the text tool and highlight any text you need to copy and paste into any other place... calendars, emails, etc.

It's funny. I feel the exact opposite about PDFs... I use them all the time and never once have had to print or fax one to anyone. Maybe it's the software you are using to read them? I dunno.

What I HATE is people who send MS Word docs with plain text in them attached to emails... which happens WAY too often.

hasan said...

ya dude, pdfs suck and also ms word.

the path to freedom is Text, plain old ASCII. every software can read it. loads fasted. zero compatability issues... etc

L said...

Looking around at spaghetti mass of charger wires, USB and firewire cables that go with the more electronic gadgets abd widgets than I will ever care to admit to owning;)


thank goodness my dog is past the chewing stage!

Anonymous said...

What is a better format to send in O' climbing icon guy? How about a .txt file?
Fucken wanker, stick to climbing instead of giving computer advice.

Butch said...

There is a lot to be said for not bringing comm/computer tech when outoords.

There is the risk homeostasis thing-- we could paraphrase Chouinard and say "if you want to get lost, bring a GPS," or perhaps "if you want to be late, bring a watch."

There is also the question of the kind of experience you want: most of us spend normal lives plugged into multiple media. I am so into this cliche: enjoy the moment, THIS moment.