How to Geocache

Geocaching is a global game of hide and seek. A geocache is a hidden container with a logbook that can be found using GPS coordinates. What I find most fascinating is that many geocaches have been ‘in the wild’ for up to seventeen years, and geocaching often leads to discovering interesting places that you never knew existed!

Cement Lounge – R.Williams 2017

Geocachers generally play the game the way they want to, but there are three main rules:

  • Don’t let anyone see you retrieve the cache
  • Put it back exactly where you found it
  • Sign the logbook and log it online

That is basically it, however there are many etiquette rules with geocaching. Some of these include:

  • Practice cache in trash out (CITO)
  • The container should suit the environment
  • There should be a reason that a cache is placed in a certain location
  • Respect the environment – generally you wont need to trample anything
  • Caches are to be maintained by the cache owner (CO)
  • Cachers should report damaged or missing caches to the CO
  • If swag swaps are made, trade up and not down
  • Respect each other and have fun!

These are more guidelines rather than rules, but the more you play the more you will learn, and hopefully discover what makes it enjoyable for you. Treat caches as if they were your own. Attending an ‘event cache’ (a gathering of cachers) is another way to learn more about how to follow the hidden rules of geocaching.

Caches are ranked according to difficulty and terrain. While again there are no solid rules, generally a terrain of one is wheelchair accessible and a five requires specialist equipment, such as SCUBA gear or, for the really keen, a ticket on the next space shuttle. In difficulty ratings a one is hidden in a standard hide, such as a road side guard rail (known as a park and grab cache) and a five could be a nano (a cache about the size of ten stacked five cent pieces) hidden among a rock pile. When it comes to finding them some people search for hours, and some set themselves a time limit, its best to stick to what your most comfortable with, but generally about fifteen minutes is enough. The more you find the easier it gets, and eventually you will have what they call the ‘geocachers eye’, which means being able to spot a likely hide from a distance.

There are many different types of cache, but the three main types are:

  • Traditional – Cache located at the given coordinates
  • Multi – Information available only at the coordinates is needed to find the cache
  • Unknown – A puzzle that needs to be solved before the coordinates are available

For the others visit – Geocache types

The physical caches come in many shapes and sizes, and everyone has their nemesis and favorites. I prefer gadget caches – these are puzzle boxes that require you to solve before you can sign the logbook. I don’t dislike any cache – park and grab mint tins are my least favorite especially if there is no story or reason to take me to the location.

That’s about it – 3 simple rules, and a few guidelines just to get started. Like any hobby the more involved you get the more you will learn. The application from Groundspeak is free to find non-premium caches (CO’s decide this) and about $45 a year subscription if you want to find any cache. So grab your phone and a pen (or two) and see what is closest, with three million hidden worldwide there is bound to be one nearby.

 

Gamify your Health – Running from Surveillance

2013 Mother's Day Run and Walk by Sangudo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
2013 Mother’s Day Run and Walk by Sangudo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)/

Fitness trackers are everywhere now; or about ‘1 in 5’ (Werner 2016). The little little blinky light things that have invaded people’s wrists and forced their ways into the lives of many. They have become a mark of the active class; a society of people determined to let others know that – I am healthy!

Like them or not, (and I love mine!) they are here to stay:

Incentive-based apps and websites are a growing segment of the overall health gaming market, estimated at $1.2 billion. (Shah 2013)

All fitness trackers, will count steps as a basic pedometer, but some include GPS and Bluetooth connectivity (compare Fitbit). They can link with your phone and give an unprecedented amount of information about where you have been and what you have been doing. This information can be published on the internet, sometimes without the expressed permission. When Fitbit was first launched users accounts were set to publish by default (this has changed now #lessonlearnt) and many users were not aware that this was happening (Matyszczyk 2011); resulting in some interesting – or appalling – information being made available. Even though the accounts were published without names it may be possible with some savvy searching to match the details with an actual person!

Even with the total ability to keep the information generated by this technology private, just about everyone has a few friends that share everything that it generates, Fusco describes the sharing of these events on social media platforms as:

In these spaces, institutionalized and individual practices work together to fabricate spaces that represent the healthy athletic body and a set of individuals who are deeply invested, for the most part, in reproducing themselves as executors of health. (Fusco 2006, n.p.)

Nokia Lumia 920 - Caledos Runner by N i c o l a (CC BY 2.0)
Nokia Lumia 920 – Caledos Runner by N i c o l a (CC BY 2.0)

So we can see that, through that act of sharing a person can be seen in the light that they wish to be known; this is the general basis for the self-moderated social media platform; we share the best bits and dump the junk. This is where social media can be a powerful tool, it has the capacity to incite behaviors from others, some times good and sometimes bad. Arroyo and Brunner examined the effects of seeing fitness tracker activity posts in social media and their findings were that:

…individuals who reported seeing more of their friends’ fitness posts on [Social Network Services] reported engaging in higher levels of healthy behaviors, however they also reported making higher levels of self-disparaging comments and being highly dissatisfied with their bodies as well. (Arroyo and Brunner 2016, p.244)

From this we can note that the sharing of information creates a certain image of that person, although it does create negative thoughts in the mind of the viewer. But how does all of this relate in real life? We see trackers on people wrists daily, and even if they are not actually doing anything is the fact that we have seen the posts of others and the fact that we know what they do enough to make us think better of that person? Is it just another piece of the active wear puzzle?

Ha. No, it is time for bed not time for a walk, Fitbit. by RK Bentley (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Ha. No, it is time for bed not time for a walk, Fitbit. by RK Bentley (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Another way to look at the act of sharing fitness tracking data, is gamification. The ability to share and compare creates competition. The sharing of data (scores) and the winning of workout goals is just about the most motivation people need to use the technology – after all what is stopping a person for just going for a walk; the fitness tracker adds the elements of a game and as such the desire to compete with others.

Is it possible that instead of just being influenced and feeling like a lesser person for not working out, that we just feel left out of the competition? Could the fitness tracker and all of its associated web sites just have become the virtual locker room?

The locker room is, spatially and discursively, a modern and disciplined space, which is imbued with discourses of power. (Fusco 2006 n.p.)

Like most things it is all in the interpretation. When looking at the fitness data generated by another, we can feel guilt, jealousy, admiration and envy. But that is the bane of the social environment – and in reality it is not something that has been created by social media; it just enhanced it.

Beyond everything the point to any fit tracker is industry and we are driven to strive for what may be considered the social normality. These companies collect data, perform analysis and possibly sell the information to others so personalised marketing can happen. Recently I purchased (was gifted) a Samsung fitness tracker, and twice in the sign up section I had to avoid ticking the receive marketing check boxes. So is it really about getting fit, or just another way to track and catalog us into marketable beings?

References

Arroyo, A, & Brunner, S R 2016, ‘Negative body talk as an outcome of friends’ fitness posts on social networking sites: body surveillance and social comparison as potential moderators’, Journal of Applied Communication Research, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 216-235.

Fusco, C 2006, ‘Inscribing healthification: governance, risk, surveillance and the subjects and spaces of fitness and health’, Health and Place, vol. 12, pp. 65-78.

Matyszczyk, C 2011, ‘TMI? Some Fitbit users’ sex stats on Google search’, CBS Interactive, retrieved 8/Sept/2016, <https://www.cnet.com/news/see-jane-go-takes-men-out-of-the-ride-hailing-equation/>.

Shah, A 2013, ‘For better health, try turning fitness into a game’, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Nov 25. <http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/kids-health/232929501.html>.

Werner, J 2016, ‘Do fitness trackers really work?’, ABC, retrieved 14/Sept/2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/health/do-fitness-trackers-really-work/7304788>.