At MW2007, one topic of consensus seemed to be that museums need to lose their walls and bring theirknowledge, collections, contexualizations, to where people are. I spoke briefly with Lynnabout the intersections between GPS/mapping and history, and she brought up geocaching as an activity people are already doing involving place, heritage and the web.
On that note, I went up to Lake Maria State Park, in Wright County, last weekend, stopping on the way to visit the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, in Darwin, Meeker County. At the twineball’s guestbook, we found a note from a geocacher, who’d cached something aroundthe twineball. On the MN State Parks’ homepage, one front-page news story is that, as of last fall, geocaching is officially allowed in Minnesota State Parks.
The parks’ press release highlights a few interesting points. They recognize geocaching (and, incidentally, letterboxing) as a valid recreational activity which could occur in state parks. However, to put a cache in a park, however, you need to download and print a permission form, which must be signed by the park manager. It seems highly unlikely that anyone will actually do this. In general, the parks are validating geocaching in general, but trying to control it in a pretty unenforceable way. By encouraging geocachers local historians could help demonstrate the relevance of museums and historic sites for yet another tech-savvy community. However, questions of preservation and security will need to be hammered out.