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Co-producing the climb: Digital adventures into the vertical

BARRATT, Paul (2014) Co-producing the climb: Digital adventures into the vertical. In: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014, August 2014, London.

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Abstract or description

This paper compares socio-technical developments in rock climbing and cycling and their differential effects upon the pursuits. Since the 1950s rock climbers in the UK have been led to challenges via guidebooks. The contents of these have changed overtime from field sketches and brief descriptions, to annotated digital photos with complex grading systems and detailed route descriptions. These are often paired with partner websites providing further advice from the embodied experiences of other climbers. Some argue that the new guides diminish the vertical challenge by providing greater detail. Yet despite these arguments the guides promote a certain style of accent which reinforces established climbing culture and its associated ethics and practices.

The current socio-technological changes occurring in cycling, present an interesting comparison to those of rock climbing. Although route guides and maps exist for cycling, they are less central to the practice, rather, cyclists are increasingly guided towards challenges via GPS enabled mobile devices and applications that promote competition over predetermined ‘segments’ of road. As well as tracking the rider across the landscape these new assemblages provide real-time and feedback about the performance of the ride. Dedicated training and ride logging websites have instigated a post-ride ritual where the data from the ride is downloaded, dissected and shared. The many layers of data recreate the vertical worlds and practices of cyclists in a virtual form for their interpretation. The element of competition with the self and other virtual riders changes the purpose and experience of the ride. Rather than riding at a steady tempo, enjoying the scenery and conversation, the ride becomes a quest to cycle between points a, and b, as fast as possible. This research provides insight into everyday leisure practices and the possibilities and challenges posed by connectivity to a wider digital assemblage.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: INCL
Faculty: School of Creative Arts and Engineering > Engineering
Event Title: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014
Event Location: London
Event Dates: August 2014
Depositing User: Paul BARRATT
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2017 14:51
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:46

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