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Protection and enjoyment… on your phone

January 25 2009 | Jim's Blog,
by Jim

First... enjoyment.

It's been said that two things have ruined surfing; leashes and forecasting.

Of course there is some truth to this claim, they have enabled more people to take up the sport and let more people be able to know conditions before they go down to surf. Once intelligence is shared those that previously guarded it feel cheated... somehow.

The flipside, in my opinion, outweighs these points. I'd venture to say ALL of us use forecasting. Kelly Slater uses it. The beginner surfer uses it. I use it. We waste less time, energy and resources if we don't.

So, to the right is a nice little iphone app that pushes a lightweight version of conditions to your palm. Brought to you by the crew at Surfline.

I like it. It saves me time, energy and money.

Next up is protection.

There have been a myriad of apps to tell people which seafood is ok to eat and which should be avoided at all costs.

In the past there were paper wallet guides. There was a text-back SMS service. Both had great vision and even strong execution... but I'm guessing many people simply forgot them or how to use them. Thus... people stared at menus... not remembering why they shouldn't eat shrimp and what the better alternative were.

I have a theory on information and activism.

Live where people already live.

Don't expect them to stray too far from their existing habits, lifestyle or daily activities. If you ask too much you'll get nothing. If you ask a tiny bit you may get a tiny bit (which when multiplied by magnitudes is more than nothing). This is one of the reasons I sometimes point to keyboard activism as a good entry point. People are at their keyboards for most of the day... use it as an onramp for activism.

Thus I think the Seafood Watch iPhone app is perfect. It's brought to you by the thoughtful, forward thinkers at Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation and UC Santa Cruz.

Of course you could argue that not everyone has iPhones and that would be a solid argument... but Apple did sell 13.7 million phones last year so... I'd counter argue that they ARE living where people are... perhaps just not where everyone is.

Regardless of your feelings for these two specific apps or even Apple, use them as a metaphor for how to engage people with intelligent apps.
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