Beyond the Information Age discusses a new way of thinking about computers, knowledge and understanding. See the editorial for more information....


Author Dave used some ISSU technology to develop a massive new Intelligent System here on Earth. Taking advantage of increased accuracy of a 20 billion dollar space satellite navigation system Dave was able to test some of ISSU’s ideas. Lets let Dave explain how he invented this new intelligent system:

Geocaching has clearly been my most successful use of ISSU’s technology. Geocaching was born on May 3, 2000 just after President Clinton removed the SA jamming signal from America’s Global Positioning System (GPS). After watching the accuracy of my handheld GPS receiver go from approximately 100 meters down to 10 meters I knew there had to be some brand new applications for the GPS positioning technology.

The night that the accuracy improved I lay awake brainstorming ideas for new uses of GPS and the idea of a treasure hunt game came to mind. Next morning I tested the operation of my GPS in hiding and finding different locations at different times. This verified that there was sufficient accuracy to find a hidden treasure.

The next day I put together a plastic bucket full of goodies for others to find. The bucket contained some software disks, a can of beans, slingshot, book, video tape movie, 5 one dollar bills, and a log book. I named the game GPS Stash Hunt and wrote the ‘procedural knowledge’ of the game on the front of the log book: “Take something, Leave Something, write you name in the Log Book” that was all there was to it.

I then posted the coordinates of the ‘stash’ on the Usenet newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav and challenged people to try and find it. Within just a few days a person reported finding my stash and the game had begun. Within a week other stashes were put out and reported. Others soon got involved and we began brainstorming how to evolve the game and create a website to support it.

During this development period I used some of ISSU’s technology to fill in knowledge in the ten directors of this evolving intelligent system. I wrote a 20 page ‘knowledge base’ document but most of the work went to the Name Director. I realized that GPS Stash Hunt was not a good Name and the game needed to be ‘an understanding’ a word ending with (ing). Weeks went by as we kicked different names around the group and finally the name Geocaching came out of the effort. This word was an immediate hit and people were quick to grab on to the simple procedural knowledge that the name implied. Humans love to get a new simple understanding and this one got them outside playing with high tech GPS units.

Once the Name Geocaching hit the net it wasn’t long before was put online by Jeremy Irish a skilled web developer. In the past six years the intelligent system of Geocaching has grown at an astronomical pace with literally millions of people getting involved in the game. At the time of this writing there are almost 350,000 geocache treasure troves hidden all over the world. Major companies are now getting involved in building specialized hardware and software to support geocaching. Recently Trimble announced software to support geocaching with cellular phones so people won’t even need to buy a GPS receiver to go geocaching.

It is quite inspiring to watch how ‘knowledge directs’ and ‘understanding affects’ the development of an ‘idea whose time has come.’ Simple procedures and an excellent Name Director brought this intelligent system to life and now all we can do is watch it grow and entertain millions of people.

Last Update: 2007-Jan-04