documentary nature programspresent nature as spectacle, withvarying references to the amazing andextraordinary. Of course, the naturalworld is not like that. As any visitor toa wildlife park knows, animals seemto spend a lot of their time in theirburrows, grooming themselves andwaiting for the next feed. If they aregrazing animals, they eat constantly.
If they are predators, then they spenda lot of time waiting for their prey.
Animal behavior is also influenced
by the conditions under which the
observations take place. Many nature
programs now include a documentary
element about what it’s like to be a
nature documentary maker. There
a further explanation of why some
of us are fascinated by new gadgets.
Like a stunning new artwork, they
challenge and disturb what we do and
think. The proliferation of mobile
apps brings into sharp relief the power
of digital technologies to disrupt,
and therefore reveal, aspects of our
experience of the natural world.
I’ll conclude by suggesting somedisruptive interventions that mediateour relationships with nature andcontribute to the identification,presentation, and invention of thenatural.
Mass-media entertainment and
are television shows that engage
with the practices of zookeeping,
veterinary science, and the activities
of park rangers. Some follow, in
intimate detail, progress in the lives
of animals and their environments
as captured by cameras secreted in
burrows and other natural habitats.
That reveals to me that we human
beings are interested not only in
natural environments, but also
in the representation, recording,
management, and monitoring of those
Needless to say, such material spillsover into what’s available on mobiledevices to include encyclopedicinformation about plant and animalspecies, behaviors, and how to locatetheir habitats. There are travel guidesand mapping apps that enable andencourage people in the outdoorsto explore. But crowdsourced mapshighlight how people don’t takemaps for granted. You can createyour own maps or contribute tothe maps provided by others. Suchtools and practices reveal what it isto create and use maps. Who wouldhave expected the Google mappingexercise to then spill into the storingof panoramas of streetscapes(StreetView), and controversies aboutprivacy and surveillance?
There’s digital photography andimaging, and the rapid distributionof such material via social media.You can view the night sky aidedby celestial mapping applications.There are pedometers and tools formonitoring the movement and mentalstate of the carrier or wearer. In thecontext of specialized research, thereare monitoring and measuring devicesto help researchers better understandwhat it is to be active in the outdoors,as in the case of our use of mobileEEG. This is all about enablement,but it’s also the differences thesetechnologies and their uses bring tolight that spark our interest.
Many people use music and sound[ 23] to adjust their responses toenvironments. According to musicsociologist Tia DeNora, “Personallistening is also, by definition, ahighly individualized solution tothe problem of well-being.” In anycase, some scholars think that themechanisms by which music affectsour emotions derive from humanresponses to the natural environment
There must be some occasions
when reflecting on our technology
dependence prompts an enhanced
awareness of life offline.