This is uncool in so many ways.
On the face of it, it shouldn’t be uncool. But it is.
Climbing Everest is cool.
Being able to share your experiences with others in real time is cool too.
But, put those things together, and the effect is to diminish and demean IMHO.
The whole is considerably less than the sum of the parts.
I say this as someone who has a little first hand experience of wanting to share adventurous experiences.
I was a member of The Ambeciles, a 2010 Mongol Rally team that drove a second hand ambulance (bought on E-Bay for £3,000) from the UK to Mongolia (via Europe, Russia and 5 countries ending in “stan”) to raise money for several charities.
As the last line of their “adventure warning” clearly states, “You really are on your own.”
Indeed, we found on a daily basis that the most interesting aspects of the journey, the most memorable stories, were the result of things going wrong. And when things went wrong you had to rely on your wits, and on the extraordinary willingness of local people to help you out, to get yourselves out of the messes that you found yourselves in.
With hindsight we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
But you can’t have your cake and eat it.
The remoteness and lack of connection to the outside world that makes for great adventure by definition also makes it impossible to share those adventurous experiences in real time.
So I drafted blog posts on a netbook in the back of what was effectively a dust-filled mobile greenhouse and then published, posted, facebooked and tweeted like mad when internet cafes and occasional hotel wifi opportunities presented themselves.
Meanwhile, back with Kenton Cool on Everest…
Here’s the video clip in which he discussed his intent to send the first tweet from the Everest summit, “in association with” his technology sponsor/partner Samsung.
This really does leave me cold.
I have no beef with Mr Cool. I have the utmost respect for what he has achieved. He is an extreme dude who isn’t pissing his life away in some faceless cube-farm.
(Although I do think he protests too much on behalf of his Samsung sponsor. Less gushing fulsomeness would definitely have been more.)
This image from the video is a succinct visual summary of why I do have a beef with him tweeting from the summit.
It’s the erection of this 3G mast that made the summit tweet possible.
And it’s the erection of this mast that has made the highest mountain (even) less remote than it was.
Less of an adventure? Discuss.
I wonder if such considerations crossed Kenton Cool’s mind. (I’ll ask once I’ve finished this post).
Adventure is an expensive business. We couldn’t have taken part in the rally without the generous support of a number of sponsors.
And I daresay the same goes for climbing Everest.
Every sponsor logo on the side of the ambulance was the result of extended periods of intense begging, stealing, borrowing, committing and promising. Not to mention the emotional punchbag feeling of multiple rejections.
Adventure is an expensive business. And sponsoring adventure is a sophisticated business.
It’s not as simple as “cash for logos”.
Quite rightly in this digitally enabled, socially connected world of ours, sponsors don’t just want a logo on the side of your vehicle. They want content. And if said content can be delivered in real time, increasing the sense of currency and happeningness, then so much the better.
And if a promise of real time content is what it takes to clinch a sponsorship deal then it is very hard not to make said promise.
Indeed, for our sponsors Direct Travel Insurance, we collected real time GPS data en route and created this piece of data visualisation (plus mini-blog) for them. However, whilst the data was collected in real time, it could only be shared and the site updated when we hit towns which had internet cafes or hotels with free wifi.
And we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
It was great to be properly disconnected for a while.
By and large the world is a better place for increased connectivity.
But there is still a place for remoteness.