Geocaching is something that I hadn't even heard of when I began putting my brain online less than two months ago [I'm writing this in August 2006]. But it now merits a page because I have been doing a lot of it recently and expect to continue doing so.
The basic idea is simple (though the technology involved is not): someone who has a GPS receiver hides a container - the cache - at a particular location and publishes the co-ordinates (latitude and longitude) on the Internet, and other people then use GPS to find it. If that were all there was to it, geocaching would be of limited interest. But there is a lot more:-
Multi-caches, offset caches and puzzle caches: A multi-cache involves a sequence of two or more locations, with earlier ones in the sequence providing clues to the final one. An offset cache has the container at a location different from the published one, but usually nearby; information is given by the setter of the cache, directly or indirectly, as to the differences between the published and actual co-ordinates. Puzzle caches extend the idea in a whole variety of ways, limited only by the ingenuity of the cache authors. Sometimes finding one cache is designed to depend on familiarity with specified other caches.
Geography, geology, history and literature: Caches are often placed in locations of particular geological, historical or literary interest, and the notes provided online by the cache author can be very educational.
Cache logs: Each cache has a web page where those who find it can log their visits. They can also upload photographs.
Trading: The larger cache boxes have room for items which can be swapped by those finding the cache. The rule is that if you take something you should also leave something, preferably of similar or greater value.
Travel Bugs: A Travel Bug is a numbered tag which is moved by cachers from one cache to another and can be tracked via logs on the website. Typically the owner of the TB specifies a goal for it - e.g. "This bug wants to visit all the states of the USA" - and the people who find it try to help it to achieve that goal.
The social side: Geocachers communicate with one another through email, through website forums, and sometimes even by meeting physically in the real world (at specified co-ordinates, of course) for organised caching expeditions or just for a drink. Cachers are people with at least one interest in common, and often more, so it's a way of making and developing friendships with like-minded people.
Stealth: When a cache is in a busy place you need to be circumspect and possibly disguise what you are doing to prevent discovery and tampering with the cache by non-cachers (known in the caching community as muggles, by analogy with the term for non-magical folks in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books).
Attitudes to technology
Views of the world
Muggles and smuggles
[Fergus's Brain Online] [Topics by date] [Send a comment on this page]