Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What is this GEOCACHING thing?

I've been hearing this word geocaching a bit lately and I've finally decided to find out what it's all about, prompted once again by anz23mobilethings. I started out by watching this:

It's kind of a treasure hunt for geeks, using a GPS (your smart phone should have GPS capability). So now I understand the basics, I've signed up at geochaching.com and I'm just learning a little more before I venture out to try find something.

Each geocache that is hidden is given a difficulty and terrain rating between 1 and 5, 1 being the easiest and the recommended starting point. There are 4 different sizes of cache, and they could look like anything. A regular or large sized cache is probably a good size to start with.

I've just downloaded the Geocaching app onto my iPhone. The free version lets you access three geocaches near your current location. After that you have to fork out $9.99 for the premium app. The app is pretty basic. It is giving me 3 near-by locations where caches are hidden, and they are all between 40 and 400 metres from where I'm sitting! Unfortunately they are all also 'tiny' (actually the size of a mint tin) but I guess they have to be in the middle of a city. I had a look at the location map on the website - man, this game is popular! There are so many, even in the Aussie outback.

I just went out to look for the closest one, creatively named Cache Wars V - the Cache Strikes Back, and sadly couldn't find it... maybe it had been cleaned away as rubbish. Pretty sure I looked like an idiot too, looking at my iPhone and then in various office-building flower beds. I sent my technician out to look for the next one on her break, but she came back empty-handed too. I think this brings me to the end of my geocaching adventure.

Does this have potential for libraries? Well I really love what the British Library did - or rather what a couple of geocachers who also love libraries (and math, it seems) got permission to do in the BL. As for my library, it's not open to the public, so there isn't a lot of potential there, and the same goes for the Foursquare app, although I'm quite enjoying it for my personal use - the hidden cafe gems it suggests, and the special offers!

Have you tried geocaching? Did you find anything? Would you pay for the premium app?

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