Thursday, November 20, 2003

Geocaching and bookcrossing
An other email (hey, people read this!), this time from Ray Davis at Bellona Times, who suggests that what I describe as a game might be a better description for Geocaching. Perhaps so, as geocaching really is a game, a game of finding something in a remote location, leaving your name and getting a little reward.

There is a sport in Norway that works like that: Cross country running and orientation (?) - people running about in the forest, carrying maps and little cards. They have to hit every point on their map as quickly as possible, there is no track, they have to find the remote and hidden stashes, and then they punch a hole in their card: each point they have to find has a different pattern.

The family version of this takes more time and is spread over a wider area: it is possible to find two or three - or just one - post for each trip into an area, you don't run, but walk, and you spend the entire season searching to find as many posts as possible. And then there is the totally informal version of geocaching: at most cairns in Norway there is a box or a plastic tube hidden, with a notebook and a pen or pencil. When you reach the cairn or perhaps the word "varde" means beacon, you admire the view until you have caught your breath (they are always at a peak) and then search this notebook out to leave your name in it.

But this is a different game from the bookcrossing game. Bookcrossing is also about creating a character for yourself through your choice of books, it is about disseminating a specialised kind of information, and about sharing the surplus of your bookshelf. To many bookcrossing may not be perceived as a game, but as Ray suggested they think of themselves as to be teaching, or to be book reviewers or book lenders.

Me, I am fascinated by the quest. Sadly, Volda holds no bookcrossers, or I would be watching that site obsessively. Knowing people around here, we might get a combination of geocaching and bookcrossing: plastic bags of books left at remote, barely accessible peaks.

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