[at-l] The News

Jim Bullard jim.bullard at gmail.com
Mon Jan 17 07:19:26 CST 2011

To get back to the original question "Does more information mean we know
less?" I think the answer is yes and no. What we know, in terms of
information, is are those bits that we need to use on a frequent basis. I
was at a Pete Seeger concert once when someone in the audience asked him to
sing a song that he hadn't done in over 5 years. He couldn't recall how it
went. He wasn't senile (this was 40 years ago), it was just not a part of
his repertoire any more so he had forgotten the words. That song had been
replaced by new songs. We tend to remember those things that are important
to us for as long as they are important to us.

A lot of what we know is incidental information, useful in certain contexts
but not exactly core to existence, like a friend's phone number. When you
have to dial it manually every time you will 'know' it. If the phone stores
it and you only have to hit a button that says "phone Darrell", you will
probably forget the number and let the phone handle that bit of information.

We could argue for the rest of 2011 over the desirability of relying on
technology for such information but IMO there is no right or wrong answer,
only what works for you. Is it really qualitatively different to get your
data on where the hostels are from a smart phone than from the Companion or
the Thru-hiker's Guide? Not to me but I'm sure that for some there is a

I used to read a lot of SciFi and I've never forgotten one story where the
main character was exploring an alternate world where the entire law code
was "Do not annoy others and do not be too easily annoyed". I've always
thought that was a good policy. I carry my smart phone (turned off) and when
I use it I try to do so in a way that does not annoy others. Some people
will get annoyed anyway. You can't control that. I use it less than Cody
did. I don't like talking on phones much and still don't "text". Am I
'dumber'? No, I know all the really essential information that I knew before
there were smart phones.

Just my take on it. You are feel to feel otherwise.

Jim Bullard

On Sun, Jan 16, 2011 at 11:13 PM, Cody Girl <codycodygirl at gmail.com> wrote:

> I don't know anything about how thru hiking used to be so I can't comment
> on that, but, how it was in 2010, I can tell you my experience.
> I got a smart phone right before leaving for Georgia specifically so that I
> could keep my online journal up to date.  A former thru hiker had passed
> down a pocketmail device to me, I would have been the 4th thru hiker to use
> it, but that company wasn't able to keep their site up and running last Feb,
> so I decided at the last minute to go with a smart phone instead.  That
> particular pocketmail gizmo "thru'd" in '09, '07 & '06.
>  I was managing my finances online while I hiked, so I used the smart
> phone for that too.
> I used it to keep in touch with a few close friends at home via email while
> on the trail.
> I used it to check weather reports for the areas I was hiking towards.
> I used the camera feature and was able to upload those pics to my TJ.
> Early on I was trying to stay in touch with my son, but no amount of
> voicemails or emails were connecting us.  One day it occurred to me to try
> texting him, (he texts all the time!) and sure enough, that did the trick.
> I also learned that thru hikers were staying in touch with each other via
> text, all up and down the trail.  I was so dumb!  Once I learned this I had
> one hefty phone bill until I changed my plan, LOL.  I had probably sent 10
> texts in my life before the hike.
> My take on this, exception texting, all the other stuff I would have done
> anyway, with or without a smart phone.  I just would have been spending more
> time at a computer while in town or at a hostel.  I tried to take care of
> business as much as possible while in town specifically because I didn't
> want my hike interrupted with my back home realities.  There was one time
> another hiker used my phone for an hour long appointment with docs regarding
> one of his children from a shelter.  I was glad to be able to help, his
> phone wasn't working.
> My take on the texting specifically is that texting is just one type of
> communication that people use now, like my son for example.  I think it's as
> natural for hikers to text each other as to leave messages in the shelter
> logs.  I understand texting uses the smallest "bite" of data resources to
> transmit too, so sometimes a text will go through when a phone call will
> not.
> All that said, I chose to leave my phone off most of the time.  Last thing,
> after I was in my bag, then I would turn the thing on and journal and check
> anything that needed my attention.  It was nice to have messages from home
> and friends, and sometimes I had email conversations.  I don't think any of
> this took away from my hike in any way.   If I was too tired I didn't bother
> to turn it on.  No big deal.
> And yes, sometimes I used it to reserve space at a hostel I was hiking
> toward, or make a motel reservation.  that made a lot more sense to me than
> spending energy getting somewhere that wouldn't let me stay.
> I think there must have been some people there who didn't have a phone with
> them, but that would have been a tiny minority.  Some people texted
> nonstop.  Neither one of those choices would have worked for me.  Hike your
> own hike, right?
> Oh, I forgot!  At an early shelter in Georgia a man was using his cell
> phone, discreetly off in the woods, to check something at home.  Another
> person in the shelter was highly offended and made a big issue of how his
> cell phone use was infringing on her enjoyment of the shelter.  He was
> seriously discreet about it, I didn't even know he was on the phone until
> she began to complain.  She was obnoxious, he was not.  Everyone's blood
> pressure got up a little bit, but then it got ok.
> On the question of information, I think we have a lot more information, but
> a lot of it is fake or useless, it's a mirage, it can be overwhelming.  If
> it overwhelms you it's easy to take in all this information and not know one
> single thing more.  That's what I think anyway.
> Cody
> On Sun, Jan 16, 2011 at 11:16 AM, Felix J <AThiker at smithville.net> wrote:
>>  On 1/15/2011 7:54 PM, Carla & Dave Hicks wrote:
>> Not trying to reopen the cell phone debates of a few years back – but this
>> really spoke to me.
>> <<snip>>
>> Have you changed?  Do you thing it is a good change?  Has the very nature
>> of Thru-Hiking changed?
>> I'm not sure if/that I've changed. If I have, it's towards be crotchety. I
>> know without doubt that the nature of thru-hiking has changed...and, not
>> towards what I consider better.  I hiked for a couple of weeks (I forget how
>> long and I am disappointed in myself for not writing a trip report) this
>> summer and was amazed at how things are done on the Trail these days.
>> Calling for shuttles and rides, making reservations, ordering food, knowing
>> where all the hikers around you are all day....  makes me scratch my
>> head...and, my head wasn't itching.  And, it seems to me that there are
>> places where you are never more than a Mark McGwire long-ball from a
>> hostel.  (I chose "Mark McGwire long-ball" because he was hitting them back
>> in the relic days of my thru-hike)
>> --
>> Felix J. McGillicuddy
>> ME-->GA '98
>> "Your Move"
>> ALT '03 KT '03http://Felixhikes.tripod.com/ <http://felixhikes.tripod.com/>
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