Joanne Palmer: Gadgets and gizmos? I prefer friends, follies
October 7, 2009
Fall and winter have collided. The result? A dazzling display of frosted trees, buttery aspen leaves and “snain” – that half snow, half rain thing that’s been falling from the sky. Now that I’ve reluctantly turned on the heat in my house, my thoughts have inched toward the upcoming ski season.
I’ve leafed through a few ski magazines, checked out some Web sites and talked to a few people “in the know,” and for the first time, I feel conflicted, bordering on schizoid.
I found some interesting new innovations (yeah : a heated jacket from Mountain Hardware) as well as gadgets and gizmos (Camelbak’s new vest with hydration system built into it) all designed to make skiing and riding more fun, but then I stumbled upon this rather alarming statistic.
According to the October issue of Ski Magazine, “Apple’s online store offers more than 60 skier-related apps, and the iPhone currently dominates the high-country app-o-sphere.”
App-o-sphere. There’s a word that gives me pause. Sixty skier-related apps? Double pause. Huh? What?
Apparently, skiers can use their phone for snow safety updates, weather forecasts, snow reports and even the iTrailmap – a smartphone application that means paper trail maps could become passe, or at the very least, optional.
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I like the idea of using less paper and saving trees. Not trying to refold a trail map is a huge plus. However, my vision is deteriorating, so I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to read a trail map or decipher what is on my phone.
My phone might need to feature a magnifying glass or a voice application that tells me where to go. Although I like the concept of the iTrailmap, 60 skier-related applications seems a bit excessive to me.
How much information is too much? Isn’t a ski day supposed to be more about making a connection to Mother Nature and less about connecting with the “app-o-sphere”? If, thanks to your phone, and all of its whiz-bang applications, you don’t get caught in a blizzard, ride the wrong chairlift or miss your lunch rendezvous, what are you going to have to talk about at the end of the day?
Yes, I’m a fan of technology, but I think I’m an even bigger fan of good stories. I need to sit around with my friends at the end of a ski day and talk about the people I met on the chair lift, the view from the top of Storm Peak, which still takes my breath away, and yes, the face plant I took. If my ski day is going to be spent talking on my phone, taking pictures with my phone, texting on my phone and looking at my phone for the latest weather conditions, how much time will be left to ski?
I do want my phone with me in case of an emergency, but unless disaster strikes, it will be turned off.
I want my primary relationships to be in real time with real people. If I need to know if it’s going to snow, I will tilt my head back and look at the sky above me. And if I’m cold, I’m going to wish I could zip myself into that new heated ski jacket (with three on-demand heat settings) from Mountain Hardware.
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