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"Completely empowering": A qualitative study of the impact of technology on the wilderness experience in New Zealand

Author(s):

John D. Shultis

Year:

2015

Publication type:

Proceedings (P)

Primary Station(s):

Rocky Mountain Research Station

Source:

In: Watson, Alan; Carver, Stephen; Krenova, Zdenka; McBride, Brooke, comps. Science and stewardship to protect and sustain wilderness values: Tenth World Wilderness Congress symposium; 2013, 4-10 October, Salamanca, Spain. Proceedings RMRS-P-74. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 195-201.

Description

Recent academic literature has expressed concern over the potential impact of the increasing types and levels of electronic (largely communication-related) technology brought by visitors into the wilderness. A key issue has been perceived changes in risktaking behavior by wilderness and backcountry users. Despite these concerns, extremely limited empirical assessment of the potential impact of technology such as cell phones, global positioning systems and personal locator beacons on wilderness users and the wilderness experience has been undertaken. Do users share the same unease about the use of these technologies as wilderness researchers and managers? This study uses a qualitative approach to assess New Zealand outdoor recreationists' perceptions of how these and other forms of technology influence their wilderness experiences. Four themes were generated from the data collected through semi-structured interviews. The results show that users' feelings about their use of new recreation equipment is directly opposed to the concerns expressed in the literature: the technology embedded within all types of recreation equipment are almost completely empowering and positive for users, principally by providing increased comfort, safety and access.

Citation

Shultis, John D. 2015. "Completely empowering": A qualitative study of the impact of technology on the wilderness experience in New Zealand. In: Watson, Alan; Carver, Stephen; Krenova, Zdenka; McBride, Brooke, comps. Science and stewardship to protect and sustain wilderness values: Tenth World Wilderness Congress symposium; 2013, 4-10 October, Salamanca, Spain. Proceedings RMRS-P-74. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 195-201.

Publication Notes

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/49617