29/08/2013 | by Alex Dick-Read
We want to know what you think about this emerging tilt towards data-gathering and sharing in surfing.
For anyone who hasn’t encountered it yet, scroll down and check out this Kickstarter Project for a new product called Trace. It’s the most advanced example we’ve come across yet, but quite likely just the tip of a ‘social surfing’ iceberg.
In short it goes like this: a device attached to your board has GPS and other info-gathering functions (speed, length of ride, height of jump, etc). It records all this while you surf. Afterwards, you can download the data and look at it, add it in to your monthly/yearly dataset or whatever; and then share it with your friends. It’s “measurable, shareable and comparable”.
So does this get your juices flowing? Will you be donating? Buying one? If so, why?
Why do you want to know how fast you went on the waves you rode this morning, or how high your airs weren’t?
And seriously, are you interested in your friends’ sessions? Why? Hey, maybe this is the future of the surf contest …
You’ll see this Kickstarter Project is aimed at skaters and snowboarders, too. Maybe it suits them better – or does it suit surfing equally well? Or none of them?
We don’t want to put a downer on these guys’ Kickstarter project. They’ve invested time, money, stoke and considerable genius into it and … who are we to judge that? Plus, it’s clearly got some traction, as the … err … tracking data at the time of posting shows: 233 backers; more than $32,000 of the $150,000 already raised; a full 42 days left to go before their appeal ends.
Truth is, we’ve pulled it out because we literally don’t understand the attraction and we’d love to know. Maybe we’re just a little bit too … last century. Back then surfing was in the thrall of philosophies and motivations mined in the acid-dipped 1960s and escapist ’70s – a huge chunk of the surf attraction was Nature, submersion in it, solitary oneness, escape from the madness of the modern world, etc., etc.
Is this data stuff some kind of progression from that? Or is it just appearing because … well … because it can? Is it, maybe, the future of surf competition – a kind of democratization of the competitive instinct, pulled from the hands of surf corporations and placed firmly on the decks of We The People?
Leave us your thoughts on this here website or social media page, and maybe share this post with your friends so they too can add their voice. (Yes, yes, we know – the ironies abound!)
But seriously, surf people, this cuts through to the fundamentals of our culture: where the fuck are we at right now, and where are we headed? We’re feeling a little lost, so please, help!
PS: If you write us something really good – for or against this stuff, and no longer than 800 words – we’ll publish it in the magazine and reward you with a wonderful wooden bodysurf hand plane by Otter Surfboards – complete with no data device whatsoever!)