Out of the office and into the Arctic

Preparing for departure in the modern world

As I pack and prepare to depart little ol’ Aotearoa New Zealand for Canada, an expedition that has been a somewhat desk top exercise online for more than six months for me is starting to materialise. With that materialisation comes the wonder I have at the context of exploring the world in 2014 with the internet, social media, radio, TV, newspapers, Skype, Facebook, Tweets…By reaching out and telling people what we’re planning to do, we are creating a hype that our previous explorers never had to be bothered with.  Gone are the days of slowly slipping away to a distant land for a quiet trip. These days if you want to be funded you’ve got to launch an online presence as well as step up and do what you’re setting out to achieve, yet another challenge to juggle along with the rest of the logistics of planning a safe trip. We face the reality that we’re in the modern world of exploring, one where you have to be tech savvy, a comms expert, a fundraiser, a blogger, a photographer, as well as a scientist, or a logistician, or whatever your role may be. We certainly are multi-faceted and talented in Team Sedna, that’s for sure.

With that backdrop, I admire the simplicity at which our forefather and foremother explorers set off amongst.  Taking it back a hundred years, they must have had many an unGoogle-able question about the far away lands they were seeking; must have written concise once-a-month letters to their expedition leaders rather than thousands of short emails; must have seen the odd phone call as a treat; hand written a journal rather than trying to boost posts in a blog. They were in a different time and arguably a different league. Back then there were few people outside of immediate family who would even know that the expedition was happening, aside from the odd newspaper story. But most of all, they must have been far more focused on the task at hand, reading and researching and mentally preparing in a way that is different from today, where most territories are explored and many a challenge completed. I can’t help but feel that the irony of making it all ‘simpler’ for ourselves through the internet based communication and outreach, we’ve just made it more complicated.

The some what distant, almost fairy tale notions I have of the Arctic will crystalise shortly. Education and outreach is a corner stone of our trip and the amazing things we’ll be able to do to share our experiences and raise awareness about issues in the Arctic wouldn’t be possible without the internet. But I’m happy that in the meantime we’re going far enough off the beaten track that internet coverage will be rare. The beauty of the boat will be the disconnection from daily life, the chance to be present and focused. At this point we’ll be reconnecting with nature and reconnecting with our explorer whakapapa (genealogy) as we harness our curiosity and get stuck into tasks. I’m certain human nature remains just as curious today and this curiosity is what unites us to our early explorers. I can’t wait to get out of the office and into the Arctic to see what’s there…

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