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Campin' with the net
December 16, 2004 5:30 PM   Subscribe

FutureIsNowFilter "TengoInternet and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced a pilot program to offer wireless Internet service at five Texas state parks... The wireless service will allow park guests while visiting the park to access the Internet to gain park information, send e-mail or pictures, or just surf the Web, without cords having to physically plug into a network."
Shouldn't be camping be more about nature than technology?
posted by Doohickie (31 comments total)

 
i wonder what's in a park in texas? besides dust and cowshit?
posted by quonsar at 5:43 PM on December 16, 2004


I think it is a badass idea. You can go online and check for weather updates or email pictures of the fish you caught or whatnot. Then again, I take my computer everywhere and my idea of roughing it is a place without wireless.

I thought I read that TxDOT was putting wireless in all of the rest areas. This could be helpful to find a place to stay up the road.
posted by birdherder at 5:46 PM on December 16, 2004


Actually, I think it's pretty cool. Weather updates, sure. But also, I always have some sort of mishap when camping. It would be good to be able to access info on how extinguish an ignited propane stove, or to stitch a jagged wound, or what you're really supposed to do in the case of a venomous snakebite.

And quonsar, cows are generally banned from Texas state parks. Most state parks have cattle guards at the entrance. Jackalope shit, though, that's another story.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:51 PM on December 16, 2004


in addition to the pros commented on above (not the jackalope shit, 'natch) i would add that individuals without the finances for proper GPS systems could go online and research trail and topography maps in the area.

it's much too late to wonder about the need for technology in nature - it's already there: TVs, air conditioners, generators, etc.
posted by NationalKato at 6:00 PM on December 16, 2004


Has anyone heard of any other states doing this sort of thing? Just curious.
posted by Doohickie at 6:05 PM on December 16, 2004


The last campin'/huntin' trip we went on, my buddy was going through a bad case of dry socket after a wisdom tooth extraction.
He needed all his food put through a blender.
So we hooked up some car batteries to an inverter and got power.

Sure woulda been cooler to just plug into a tree, or the ground...

/laments Tesla

I think that this is a very good idea, as long as all the other park services dedicated to maintaining the park aren't being shitcanned to fund an extravagance.
posted by Balisong at 6:06 PM on December 16, 2004


we ended up hooking up a TV and X-box he brought along...

But it SURE WOULDA BEEN BETTER to play online...
posted by Balisong at 6:07 PM on December 16, 2004


at the risk of repeating myself...

This is WRONG on so many levels.
posted by kamylyon at 6:14 PM on December 16, 2004


Balisong, couldn't find a currant bush?
posted by arse_hat at 6:16 PM on December 16, 2004


Shouldn't be camping be more about nature than technology?

One doesn't necessarily preclude the other. I doubt your tent/sleeping bag are made of canvas anymore, either.
posted by rushmc at 6:22 PM on December 16, 2004


This is WRONG on so many levels.

It's wrong if, while "camping," you sit in your car and read RSS feeds or watch porn or check your email.

But if you want easy access to info, it's a great option. (Am I the only one who thinks it's a pain the ass it is to carry with you every field guide that's every been published?)

If the surfing the internet outdoors becomes your idea of camping, then this is wrong.

If it opens new doors, what's wrong with it?
posted by mudpuppie at 6:25 PM on December 16, 2004


Hmm. Earlier this month I had my first experience hiking past someone who was talking on a cell phone while riding a Western trail horse, in Sabino Canyon outside Tucson.

(At least she was on a short call, hanging up about the time she came into view, and looked rather sheepish as she passed. Plus she looked like a seasoned rider on home turf. So I wouldn't put it in the same category as, say, someone yakking on a cell phone while on a mule ride down from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Which I have no doubt it's possible to see.)
posted by Creosote at 6:26 PM on December 16, 2004


Why leave home?
posted by threadbare at 6:30 PM on December 16, 2004


Idea! put up many cams all over the parks and then we can sit home, drink beer, and see Nature without messing it up or inconviencing ourselves...no need to spray for bugs either.
posted by Postroad at 6:34 PM on December 16, 2004


NationalKato: A gps system, with topo maps, can be had for around $250. Why would someone who needs a topo system have the finances for a laptop with wireless networking, but not a GPS? ...and this is beside the fact that most laptops aren't really very good at being outdoors.

Far ranging cell phone coverage makes much more sense to me than this.
posted by flaterik at 6:36 PM on December 16, 2004


But Poastroad, you can't shoot at stuff from your home...

Well, at least I can't. We need the fresh air, and the green trees, and the occasional rabbit or squirel to plink at.
posted by Balisong at 6:37 PM on December 16, 2004


Camping for many people means living out of a cramped box on wheels affectionately called an RV. The Texas park system is big on this type of "camping". If you're already in a miniature home (many w/satellite TV), why not surf the net, too?

A friend recently asked me to set up a wifi adapter for his notebook PC so he can email his kids/grandkids from his RV (a lot of non-state park RV sites already offer wifi he says).
posted by iwearredsocks at 6:38 PM on December 16, 2004


yep, dust and cowshit, as far as the eye can see.
posted by blendor at 7:00 PM on December 16, 2004


Flaterik, i'm not talking about the regular hikers and topo-enthusiasts. i'm talking about Joe Schmo who would more likely already have a laptop he could bring out and connect to the internet(s) with.

the amount of technology you use while in a park is entirely up to you. you want to sleep under the stars and cook your food over a pile of brush you lit with a flintstone? fine.

i wonder if this guy could've used a bit of tech to help himself out...
posted by NationalKato at 7:06 PM on December 16, 2004


Why would someone who needs a topo system have the finances for a laptop with wireless networking, but not a GPS?

Gosh, maybe because they already have the laptop for some other purpose?

If I were hiking along, I'd be irked to find someone walking along the path trying to play HL2 at the same time. But this seems to me to be an entirely harmless and useful thing to have for those times in the campground when you've gotten back from Doing Whatever and are waiting for dinner to boil.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:17 PM on December 16, 2004


the amount of technology you use while in a park is entirely up to you.

That comment acutally moderated what I am going to say, because you are absolutely right. It's a public space, and you can do whatever the hell you want.

I have to say, however, that I live a bit of a dual life, as both a computer geek and a plant ecologist. When I head out to spend two weeks in the South Australian outback, there is no greater joy than that of leaving the laptop behind and turning off the mobile phone because there won't be any signal within 200 kilometers of where I'm heading. Seriously, try it some time. Leave the toys behind, learn to use a paper map and compass, and learn to love the silence. It's 100 times better than the convenience of "being able to check the weather". Hell, after all, AM radios have been useful for that for close on a century.
posted by Jimbob at 7:37 PM on December 16, 2004


Why not? Last summer my family and I followed the Lewis and Clark Trail, camping along the way. We carried two wireless laptops, a wireless Axim, two digital cameras, a digital camcorder, walkie-talkies, a cell phone, a Leap Pad, and an Iriver hardrive music player. My wife was horrified, but it was a wonderful outdoor adventure nonetheless [self link].
posted by LarryC at 7:43 PM on December 16, 2004


Hmm. Earlier this month I had my first experience hiking past someone who was talking on a cell phone while riding a Western trail horse, in Sabino Canyon outside Tucson.

Well now, there's a difference between having access to information and being a jackass.

People who disturb the peace in nature deserve to be gnawed on by mountain lions. People who crave access to information while in nature should have access to it.

And never the twain shall meet.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:50 PM on December 16, 2004


But Poastroad, you can't shoot at stuff from your home...

Well, at least I can't. We need the fresh air, and the green trees, and the occasional rabbit or squirel to plink at.
posted by Balisong at 6:37 PM PST on December



Who says?
(Don't tell me this hasn't been covered here...)
posted by mudpuppie at 8:52 PM on December 16, 2004


I'm not saying that it's Badevilness. Just... odd.

I'd be ecstatic if I could get a wireless signal anywhere in LA.
But I can't say I'd be any more inspired to a bring a laptop with me next time I went camping if there was wireless. I'd probably be more resolute in leaving it home. (Jimbob, I know where you're coming from)

I would be pissed if national park fee program money was going to something like this, though. I'm displeased enough with that program as it is.

The GPS discussion misses the important point that a laptop doesn't know where it is. It's not a replacement, no matter how much internet access it has. One could be a replacement for maps, but as computer loving as I am, I think paper maps would usually be a better solution than trying to hike with a lap top and compass. Batteries are heavy.
posted by flaterik at 11:11 PM on December 16, 2004


quonsar: i wonder what's in a park in texas? besides dust and cowshit?

Steers and queers?
posted by Sinner at 12:11 AM on December 17, 2004


I am surprise at the level of luddism here. I am not a flaming futurist by nature, but I can see the value and potential of remote network access. This does not necessarily require lugging around a laptop. In the near future, it would be neat to access a multimedia database of birds on my PDA while hiking. If I found something that was unfamiliar and not covered in system memory, I could search the network. Or may be call up a knowledgeable friend and show them photos or video in real time.

But most folks experience state parks within spitting distance of the picnic shelter. And from the link given, those "(c)ustomers are continuing to demand more amenities from their travel experiences and wireless, high-speed Internet access."

I expect park staff could also benefit from this. There was a summer when the outdoors was my office, and it would have helped if I could check email, especially during long trips to remote properties.

As for maps, paper ones are great. But with accessible technology, one could load GIS data, and be able to reference vegetation layers, watershed features and a multitude of other nuances of the land. And imagine being able to groundtruth that data and uploading the results instantly. That could be especially useful for dynamic events like forest fires, floods or animal migrations.
posted by piskycritter at 6:52 AM on December 17, 2004


If I were hiking along, I'd be irked to find someone walking along the path trying to play HL2 at the same time.

What business is it of yours, so long as it doesn't interfere with your experience of nature?
posted by rushmc at 8:51 AM on December 17, 2004


I don't really care what other people do, but it would interfere with my experience of nature. I mean, what's the point in going out into the woods just to end up playing HL2? Sorry, but that's just taking it too far IMO.

Granted I do take my cell phone along on my current hikes, but I don't use it other than to take the pictures that I happily spam people with...

Were I to actually go camping, nah, I wouldn't take tech with me. (well not much, I would get some disposable cameras)
posted by kamylyon at 12:19 PM on December 17, 2004


I mean, what's the point in going out into the woods just to end up playing HL2? Sorry, but that's just taking it too far IMO.

You claim it would interfere with your experience of nature, but all you offer is an opinion. Others are equally entitled to theirs, and unless they are blaring their TVs into your campsite at night or littering the trail with spent batteries, I don't see that you have a legitimate beef.
posted by rushmc at 5:04 PM on December 17, 2004


Point taken rush. I suppose it wouldn't interfere with my experience so much as I wouldn't 'camp' in an RV area anyway.

It's just the thought of taking it all with you that gets my goat. Again, what's the point in going to 'commune with nature' if you're not going to.
posted by kamylyon at 6:21 PM on December 17, 2004


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