This is a rather peculiar topic to be added to a literacy blog, you might think. Yet I am convinced my best ideas stem from two situations:
1. Walking along and talking with someone and wanting to record the ideas for later review and
2. Walking to a destination (to work) and wanting to take time to clarify ideas and put them into better focus, or work on a project by talking it through.
I now have been trying to use a digital voice recorder – it is cumbersome, it picks up the extra noise, and I currently limit the recording to times when weather is not too rainy so the device is not damaged. I carry it around with me in my pocket, and switch it on for recording when I want to make some verbal notes. I have it in my hand, and speak into it. I also sometimes bring a digital camera,to take photos and video clips as the possibilities arise, as well as a smartphone. I use the phone for safety reasons, but also to send myself twitter notes – the obvious drawback is that I need to stop and use the smartphone, key in some ideas, and then resume my walking. This, to me, defeats the benefits of steady walking, and can get annoying. So, for me, bringing a cellphone while walking is a necessary evil – I would opt to turn the thing off, and keep it handy if needed.
The whole concept of walk-blogging presupposes you have time to walk for about 30 minutes or longer at a stretch everyday, and that you are committed to the routine. It also presupposes that your route is not too challenging so that you end up losing your breath and have difficulty speaking clearly while walking. It also presupposes you have already picked out a route relatively free of vehicle traffic. An urban environment is probably not the optimal space for trying walk-blogging – the noise of traffic is going to be too loud for capturing self-talk.
I live in Prince Rupert, BC, and I can take trails through old rainforest that muffles and bypasses the noises of traffic. On rainy days, the traffic’s noise is made louder, so I try to avoid walking on paved roads. This cannot also be done successfully, mind you, especially if you are walking with a specific destination in mind, like “downtown”. There is some traffic on the roads where I walk, so I always aim to choose a route with minimal traffic, and vary my walks to co-incide with times where there is less traffic.
Again, in small rural areas, this is a choice, thanks to my teaching schedule. For urbanites, the chances of having optimal outdoor walk-blogging conditions is challenging. For many, the lifestyle is not conducive for walk-blogging because they are unable to escape from incessant noise and congestion. (You can tell I was a former urbanite, can’t you?)
On some days I encounter deer, eagles, ravens, and depending on where I walk, I can also catch sight of seals and otters, off the beaten track. I prefer to do walk-blogging outside, I mean, the idea of walk-blogging seems to pre-suppose that, as i could never imagine me engaging in self-talk in a gym working out on a row of machines alongside dozens of others in close proximity. I prefer walk-blogging that allows me the chance to interact fully with the natural environment.
Obviously, walk-blogging is not something you want to do in a shopping mall, for instance, or in a parking lot. I would like to please ask readers not to engage in walk-bloggin in those ways. You will be a danger to yourself and others, and irritate people to boot…
So, anyways, I try to walk a route with a few other walkers who won’t be alarmed to hear me talking to myself. Using a digital camera to capture short video clips and pictures is a nice to have item while walk-blogging.
Walk-blogging also presupposes you don’t want to be plugged in to a portable music system. You don’t also want to have any headset that covers your ears – you need to be fully aware of your environment, watching for cars, other walkers, etc.
This is particularly true when walking in the woods or along trails. You need to have your ears and eyes wide open.
I need a device that can withstand moisture – from rain and from body sweat – I walk and I heat up, and the moisture builds, so this is a consideration for me when deciding on a technology solution.
I take two 30 minute walks a day, back and forth from work. A device that can be strapped or clipped to my belt, for example, into which I can record voice data, would be amazing.
I am serious about walking to help me clarify my ideas. Thanks to sustained walking, I have benefitted from a drop in blood pressure, a loss of 20-25 pounds so far, increased energy, improved immune response, and so for me the idea of having a means of capturing the products of my experiences while engaging in sense-making, while also doing something that benefits my health, is a worthy goal.