Geocaching activity in Kathmandu

Just thought I’d do a brief post – along the lines of what I did on my holidays. Although actually I was still working quite a few of the days as … well that’s the ideal thing about a job based on the Internet, you can do it anywhere. Anyway, I had the chance to try out this activity, a totally new one to me, basically just a small update to an activity my wife started off a few years back.

Geocaching learning activity April 11th 2016

The original geocache site was set up at the Mahan Siddhartha High School  http://www.msschool.edu.np/ on 20th November 2010. It was an off-set cache – visitors to the stupa at Boudha answered clues based on the stupa and this led them to the school – but this had to be revised after the earthquake damage in April 2015 due to the school being relocated and rebuilding of the stupa. The geocaching activity on the 11th April updated the location of the cache, and children from the school also identified new questions, based on the buildings and objects around the stupa, rather than the stupa itself. A video of the original activity can be seen at

The new co-ordinates for the cache are

N 27 degrees 42.942

E 085 degrees 21.418

The geocaching activity that visitors undertake when visiting Kathmandu is to visit the website geocaching.com and search for nearby gecocaches, of which this (at https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC2JG4D_between-sacred-sites) is just one, and answer a series of questions to find the cache.

The co-ordinates are made into a puzzle by substituting letters for the numbers in the co-ordinates and setting clues for those letters. Taking the smallest four of these numbers, 1, 2, 4 and 5, the remainder of the digits can be created from those, where, if A=1, B=2, C=4 and D=5.

The principle of this was explained to the children from the school and, as a quick simple maths test, they were asked how all the numbers could be created from these four. The children identified that the larger numbers could be made up from the smaller ones like this:

N B (D+A)  degrees C B . (D+C) C B

E 0 (BxC) D degrees B A . C A (BxC)

The group took one walk around the partially-rebuilt stupa looking for clues that would produce the answers 1,2,4 and 5. The clues produced were:

How many maps are there as you go round the stupa? = A (answer 1)

How many dragons are there on the front of the Guru Lakhang monastery? = B (answer 2)

How many gates are there into the stupa? = C (answer 4)

How many leopards are there in the Guru Lakhang monastery? = D (answer 5)

Also as part of the exercise, the geocache was re-upped with three new trackables or travel bugs. Travel bugs are picked up and dropped off at the geocaches along the travels of the geocachers. By visiting a page associated with the bugs, geocachers can see what the mission of the bug is, and who else has picked up and dropped off the bug along the way. To individualise the bugs (which are just flat pieces of metal similar to dogtags) keyrings can be attached to them.

The children were asked to choose three keyrings that they felt represented their culture (as an example they were shown an Iron Man keyring to represent Western culture). One of the children chose a representation of a Gorkha  – a long Nepali blade. It was given the mission of collecting reflections about what the site visited means to the visitor’s culture and to them personally. To start off the bug’s mission the children were asked the significance of the stupa to their culture and to them personally. Responses were that culturally it was an important landmark site, but that personally it was where they came to be close to God. It can be tracked at http://www.geocaching.com/track/details.aspx?id=6495363

The second keyring was a Vajra, although the children only identified this as “a Buddhist symbol”. Vajras represent thunderbolts. This bug replicated the mission of the bug from the original creation of the cache, to visit places of worship.  It can be tracked at http://www.geocaching.com/track/details.aspx?id=6495372

The original bug can be tracked at http://www.geocaching.com/track/details.aspx?id=2982297 It had a very brief journey, being taken by one geocacher to Lisbon, and then picked up by a second who took it to Egypt and back. It was only on the move between 28.11.2010 and 26.8.2012

The third keyring chosen was a representation of the stupa. The MS School has links with a UK school, children took part in a collaborative exercise whereby they wrote a short description of themselves and their lives, together with a photo, to share with children at the other school. This bug is aiming to travel to a cache near that school. The intention is that it will be picked up and dropped off at different caches en route, and randomly make its way to the right place. It can be tracked at http://www.geocaching.com/track/details.aspx?id=6495395

These three travel bugs were then placed in the cache at the Mahan Siddharta High School. Visitors to the stupa will then be led to the school, where they can fill in a logbook, drop off their trackables at the cache, and collect a different trackable from the cache. They can also fill in their experiences of the visit to the stupa and school, and completing the puzzle, at the website. This is then something the children at the school can watch developing, and see what other parts of the world their school becomes connected to.

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There can be only one

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Earlier this week I had a bizarre notification on Twitter. I was being praised for my role with Samsung Canada and my work with raising awareness of autism. As this wasn’t something I was aware of having done, I guessed it was a different Mark Childs that was being referred to. Sure enough the Chief Marketing Officer of Samsung Canada is called Mark Childs. There are plenty of us. If you Google my name I’m the first page of hits now, but for a long while the top ten were dominated by the uncle and nephew combination of Mark Childses, the (substantially more famous) Cantor and cellist. My mother has their CDs in her collection. I also have this novel on my shelf at home.

Neither of this is particularly unusual. There are plenty of cases of mistaken identity on twitter, often caused by someone less prestigious getting there before the more well-known version. The US teacher John Lewis (“Computer science educator, father of four, social liberal, atheist, and not a retail store”), Ashley “I’m not a freaking cricket match” Kerekes (twitter handle @theashes) or the woman in New York called Elizabeth Line are cases we’ve all heard of. It’s a confusion we’ve come to expect.

This doesn’t really come into a discussion on identity. Identity is a word used in completely different meanings, with very little overlap. Identity in maths is when an equation is true no matter which values are chosen. Identity in the phrase “identity theft” or “identity management” is really just a “construct of credentials” (a great phrase coined by my wife in Peachey and Withnail, 2013) it has little to do with actually what we mean when we talk about identity, which is really the construction of the various ways in which we perceive and define ourselves.

The problem is, how do we create an online presence for ourselves when our names can be blurred across so many different people? On Amazon it can be a problem finding my stuff, because not only is there the novelist called Mark Childs and the guy writing about urban planning called Mark Childs, you’ll also get anything written about children by anyone called Mark appearing above any of us in the returned search. Or in the case of Peachey, A., how do we maintain a single profile if you change your name?

This can be fixed on Amazon by creating an author page. It’s means that everything written by me can be grouped together, with a unique author’s ID (B00DHHKCIS – these things never trip off the tongue), so find one and you can find the others.

Writing journal papers is even trickier than books because you need to be traceable through citation indices and there are more people writing them with whom you can get mixed up. It’s why we have unique IDs, though they’re not as unique as they should be, as there’s ResearcherID, Google Scholar ID, OrcidID and Scopus. So not one standard, which is time-consuming, and also prone to complication. Orcid automatically populates its database with publications, but the algorithms are a bit flawed in that it created a hybrid personality composed of me and one other academic. Apparently, it’s far more probable that a professor at MIT might stop publishing about the physics of crystal lattices, drop his middle name and move to Wolverhampton to write about elearning, than that coincidentally one Mark Childs retires as the other’s career starts. Disentangling the two merged beings took a while but we’re know recognised as separate entities by the database.

Although enabling this construct of credentials to be processed unambiguously is not really part of one’s identity, it has led to me making some adaptations to who I am. I don’t actually have a middle name. My brother doesn’t have one, and going up the paternal line to the early 1800s, no-one else has one either. Whereas some families have a traditional name that is used, the Childses traditionally have a blank. That was fine until the need of logins to have a unique usernames. Anyone who’s on TOOC 16 at the moment will see I’m registered as Mark P Childs. As I had already logged in as Mark Childs using my google account, when setting up a Moodle account I needed a way to tell them apart. So the no middle name became a problem. My brother has encountered the same problems with registering email addresses, so is known as Andrew X Childs. If pressed he’ll tell you the X stands for Xavier. So why P? I recently found out that my mother was playing with the idea of calling me Ptolemy. She just liked the name. But changed her mind before registering it. Just as well; it sort of writes a cheque I can’t cash. But if the need to disambiguate my name ever crops up, that’s what goes in there.

I don’t think it changes the way I see myself. Or how others see me. But it’s starting to grow on me.

 

 

Peachey, A. and Withnail, G. (2013) “A Sociocultural Perspective on Negotiating Digital Identities in a Community of Learners” in Warburton, S. and Hatzipanagos, S. (Eds) Digital Identity and Social Media USA: IGI Global