Thursday, October 13, 2016

The social media of things

"Where should we go today?"

It's a common question presented to the group when discussing ski plans.

"Hey, I think I know of a new place we could check out"

Is becoming a rarer response. Perhaps we've now exhausted the selection of good ski spots in the area. Or maybe new spots are getting harder to find.

I used to spend free time on the internet not watching cat videos but tumbling down the rabbit holes of internet forums (The Alberta Report on now BackcountryTalk, Canadian Rockies Roll Call on,,, gravsports-ice) and blogs (SchultzGambit is a favourite of mine). By carefully comparing pictures to Google Earth satellite images, I was able to add more ski spots to my arsenal to check out when the guidebook spots were busy, tracked out, or we were just looking for an alternative. Scrolling through the pages of a simple google search also yielded good results. Even youtube is handy. Forums neatly organized discussion in subforums and treads.

But forums and blogs are dying. hashtags have replaced more detailed write ups. In fact, only started using instagram as a tool to find out where people are skiing, and when. Perhaps Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter provide more instant gratification in the form of followers, shares, retweets, regrams, and likes for a lot less effort. Or maybe less is more and being able to limit your bragging to your followers and friends better preserves the spot for next time. Either way we are left with a decreasing amount of searchable, archived material but with more stuff that is there for its 15 minutes of fame before getting buried to the depths of the internet (only to get uncovered when the person runs for public office).

Is Facebook a "one stop shop"? In my feed, I can see discussion of ski conditions, used gear for sale, and pictures of recent conquest. But the mainstream nature, shear volume, and lack of organization on Facebook means it might be necessary to fragment into target groups. People start new groups so they can fluff their ego with administrative power only partly responding to a need. Backcountry-YYC, Bow Valley Skiers, Wild Terrain Freeriders, Backcountry Skiing Partners Rockies/Rogers Pass. Canmore Gear Loft, Calgary Mountain Gear Loft, YEG Mountain Gear Loft. Calgary MTB Conditions, Moose Mountain Shuttle Group, Calgary Downhill MTB. Edmonton Mountain Biking, Edmonton Bike Racers (Interclub), Edmonton Downhill Mountain Biking Meetups, Edmonton Downhill Mountain Bike Travel Group. One stop shop?

Should I check out Reddit? Talk about a rabbit hole

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