Social media guides – Magician vs Wizard

How two kinds of social media experts might take on very different roles along the digital trails of tomorrow

By Frits Ahlefeldt, – Technology

On the hiking trails social media is booming, and in a time when everybody becomes social media experts or at least users, it seems that calling someone an expert is not exact enough any more, instead we need to differ between different kinds of social media experts. And sketching up ideas for that I stumbled across the classic difference between being a magician and a Wizard

Drawing of a man looking at his digital twin, as a mirror image on a screen

Meet your digital twin

The intelligence of your phone is beyond what you hold in your hand, your phone is just the surface of something much larger, and closer to you – Get ready to meet your digital twin… Your twin who is a smarter than you, faster, more connected and know you better, version of yourself

Three fishermen walking, granddad, dad and son

Things you can’t do with your smartphone

Technology can’t connect you like nature can

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Going fishing together – Strolling along a river, laughing, enjoying walking for that special place, where the fish often can be caught. Teaching your kid about the places along the stream, that you learned from your dad, walking right behind you, even though he moved on and became one with how the eddies show where the fish hide, how once a huge tree blocked the flow,  how beavers and otters slip out of sight…  and into the slow flow of water and time – all this our smartphones, apps and digital social networks can’t grasp…

Giving up the outdated solutions of yesterday for a smarter tomorrow

Solar power is so much smarter

Factory chimney with smoke blocking the sun of tomorrow illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt
Today we can either create the technology for tomorrow, or the limitations for it.

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Solar power and solar technology is now both cheaper, more advanced and easier to install and use to store energy than the old, extremely polluting and cumbersome coal and oil energy sources. With good reason a lot of countries are speeding up to switch to solar, but also wind and other alternative sources.  Some countries are unfortunately going in the other direction…

The tragedy is that this scared run for yesterday, risk to destroy the future for everybody, to favor a few, that are too conservative to make the necessary changes. Fortunately it look like in most of the world, new solar harvesting structures are being build on a scale never seen before, energy structures that can soon support and nurture both new technologies, locals, food and thrive

Hikers and hiking is here on pushing the edge, new solar technologies, ultra-light and effective panels, batteries and less power hungry flashlights, phones and other technologies are tested to their most extreme by hikers on the trails, and what works for hiking – will very likely work everywhere… to the benefit of everybody

Learning from the past – three ways of finding more sustainable paths

We need to learn from industrial mistakes, and instead use nature know-how + new technology to design our paths to a better future

Text and drawings by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Innovation is often about  standing on the shoulders of what came before, to look further, as the science legend Issac Newton explained after he came up with a theory about why apples fall to the ground ( The force of gravity ) Here are three ways we can stand on the shoulders of existing ideas and technologies, to find new trails ahead: 

#1 Climb the long dirty chimney of industrial production to face the problems and look further

Industrial production can teach us a lot, not least about what not to do, we should take a long deep look into that +200 year long chimney, and then take a look around and face the consequences of it. From the wasted lives, that went into producing all these products, to the exploited landscapes, the now dead zone lost ecosystems, the oil covered birds, the lifeless suburbs, and the stressed out fast-food shacks along the highways, that chain-strings our communities.

Drawing of a chimney with moon and stars, and a man climbing to the top
We need to climb above industrial logic and production, but also learn from it…

#2 Learn from nature to, to create smarter modular solutions

Nature use only a few time tested, sustainable and refined techniques, and modular designs, using natural materials, that can be reused again and again to create a lot of different landscapes, life forms and experiences.

Designers and architects are starting to learn from this way of creating, making more sustainable “Lego like” plug in, structures, that can be repaired, maintained and reused in better ways and with less waste.

Drawing of an modular micro park, being placed in the city
Using modular designs we can create new and more sustainable architecture and places

3# Make use of big data to get a better overview of the complex challenges

There is an gigantic and fast growing amount of digital data and information available today, that make it possible for us to better understand and visualize flows, energies, zones and solutions, and to test the strengths and consequences of new designs and ideas, before we put them into reality. We can use this technology and new digital tools to create better trails, less roads, more nature, wild food experiences, support ecosystems and optimize the frame around hiking, thrive and living in new and better ways.

Drawing of people looking at a data visualization on a laptop
New digital tools, let us visualize and experiment better with layers in flow, results and designs before turning the designs into reality

Nature’s water purification

Nature can work as a brilliant water cleaning system

Frits Ahlefeldt,

Inversed umbrella with green plants, working as a water purification system
Nature as a natural purification system

In the last ten years there has been a new trend, using nature as a purification system, cleaning polluted sewage, run of from streets and roads – even a new kind of natural swimming pools are using nature’s own purification systems. It’s not 100% clean, as when filling water with chlorine and other poisons. But using natural organic life-based cleaning techniques is a lot more in balance with nature, and it won’t destroy life and might even one day bring us forward, to a place where we can drink and swim in the water from our natural sources again, without needing to poison it first.

Cone solar power for hiking concept

Idea for adaption of ultra efficient solar power harvester for hikers

Sketch of a V3Solar power generator mounted on a backpack - drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Portable, direction independent Solar power for hikers idea sketch based on the V3Solar cone

Self driving wheel backpacks

Backpack with wheels innovation

Text and drawings by Frits Ahlefeldt,

The backpacks we use today are (almost) identical to the ones yesterday, just slightly better. Suitcases have in the same time gone through a revolution… Nobody carry those any more, the suitcase has evolved wheels, so now everybody push their suitcase instead. Could we see terrain going wheeled backpacks soon? Making the same innovation leap, and could it be that we don’t even have to push them the day after tomorrow? 

Walking with a dog is great, so great that a few tech companies have started to make digital dogs, that you don’t have to come home to, but can still take for a walk. These digital “dogs” might even show you new trails and get you safe home before the rain.

Combining this technology into something that can carry your luggage too won’t be a huge step, and sure someone will think about doing that soon.

Just sketched up a couple of drawing of how I imagine those things might look…

Concept for a self driving backpack
My rough idea sketch for a self driving backpack
illustration of a girl walking with a self-driving backpack
Girl hiking with a GPS guided self-driving backpack

Of course there could be unseen challenges in this, like you being delayed because your backpack got into a fight with a local lawn-mover robot…

360 degree virtual research Trekker

Bringing technology out hiking

The cameras,  robots, drones and self walking machines are getting smarter and smarter and technology companies have started to use hikers to bring the technology to the trails to bring the hiking trails into virtual reality

drawing of a hiker with a robot in a baby carrier
Babysitting technology




Walking to bridge the gap

The easy way to put your head back on your body

Free CreativeCommons Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Drawing of a body in nature and a head in digital technology
Sitting in modern life

Walking can help to reconnect us, both to each other, to our bodies and to the landscapes.  You just have to get up and take the first step, and then the next. Your head will then realize it is connected to much more than the screen-based, digital reality, where it spends most of its time, and will return home.

Try it out…

Eco water pump

Designing with inspiration from nature

CreativeCommons Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Drawing of a tree with a water tap
Trees as design inspiration

Hiking seen with focus on design is about simplicity and about understanding how brilliant nature really is.

Inspiration from walking in nature can be used in design, architecture and a lot of other areas of innovation and creativity…

Take trees as an example, they are genius, self-sustainable, adaptable, solar powered water pumps, that grows out of a tiny seed, in ways that has been continuously refined for hundred of millions of years…

CreativeCommons drawing, free to download and use 🙂


Hiking into the future of virtual reality

Virtual reality headsets and augmented reality glasses are finding new trails

Drawing of a girl with backpack and a virtual reality mask out on the trails
Using Virtual reality headsets when hiking

Drawing and text by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Hiking is not what it used to be, new gadgets, apps and innovations appear almost every day. Gadgets that in one way or another promise to connect or enhance hiking into a digital frame, even while we are out on the trails

One of the latest big new things you can buy for hiking, is what look like a kind of scuba-masks , where you can mount your smartphone in or stand alone systems that work in similar ways. These new digital reality gadgets can work in several ways when used for hiking here are two of the most discussed today:

Preparing for the hike by watching 360 degrees movies of the trail

The way to use virtual reality headsets most close to become reality today, is when hikers use the VR headsets to watch 360 degrees movies of the trails they are planning to take, to get familiar with the landmarks, resources, huts and difficult parts – before they even put on their boots.

Being guided by VR headsets out on the trails

The other way is to use the VR headsets ON the trails, and – like fighter plane pilots, get extra information about the trail in front of you, upcoming weather, emails and snap-chat messages as a layer of information and images, in front of your eyes.

How soon will this happen?

Not sure if this is something I look forward to meet out on the trails, but very soon ( 1-5 years ) we will be very likely to see the first hikers wearing these new gadgets when hiking, turning their heads as they stare into screens and navigate the landscapes. And you could be as likely to meet them either at home, in a train, on a flight –  or out in the terrain.

Actually by now ( summer 2016) more than a million people are already active and regular users of just one of these new VR systems ( the Samsung – Oculus system ) check it out here:


Ideas like trails need to be free

Hiking trails as metaphor for innovation

Our trails and paths disappear if nobody use them, just like stories nobody tell anymore, the trails will slowly be removed by the wind if nobody relate to them.  It’s the same with ideas, they need to be used, worn and in constant contact with people, they need to be refined and developed out in the open, and just like trails, this is much more likely to happen, if the ideas are set free…

Drawing of idea light bulbs flying out of golden gage
Ideas works best if free

Free CreativeCommons drawing of the day by Frits Ahlefeldt

Evolution of a long distance hiker

Hiking light often comes easy as you start walking

Text and CreativeCommons drawings by Frits Ahlefeldt,

One of the most used advices to new hikers is to travel light, to go for paper thin-titanium gadgets and other ultra expensive gear.

But instead of spending a fortune on things you might never need,  it is better just to start out with whatever hiking-gear you have, take a few short 3-5 days hiking trips and learn as you walk and meet other hikers, before deciding on the gear you want to invest in and take along on any longer hike. After a few weeks on the trails you will know much better exactly what you need and what you don’t need


Hiker with a backpack that gets lighter and lighter as he walks on
evolution of a long distance hiker


Drawing of a hiker with heavy backpack

Backpacker starting out with heavy backpack

Drawing of a backpacker with a mid size pack
Hiker with mid sized backpack
Drawing of a backpacker with a light pack
Hiker with light backpack


Drawings by Frits Ahlefeldt,

wheelchair for hiking research sketches

Ideas for getting out in nature and come along hiking for people who need to use a wheelchair

Research sketches by Frits Ahlefeldt, part of the Wheel-hiking research project

Hiking can sprout innovation in many ways, one of them is to find new ways to keep getting out in the landscapes and nature using innovative kinds of wheelchairs.

There are many types of terrain going wheel chairs, both electrical and non-electrical and here are research drawings of a few of those wheelchair types that could be interesting to look at when heading out on hiking trails:

Drawing of a bike like electrical wheelchair for trail use
The Boma7 electrical off-road vehicle


Non electrical trail use wheelchairs
Examples of trail-use wheelchairs: the Black Carbon and the Hippo-Campo

Links to two non-electrical wheelchair like vehicles:

Black Carbon Wheelchair:

HippoCampo wheelchair:

Drawing of a electrical caterpillar vehicle
Der Ziesel – electrical, caterpillar sitting-vehicle, for off-road use


Drawing of a 4 wheel drive wheelchair
The terrain 4×4 Viking electrical wheelchair


One wheel wheelchair for the trails
The Joëllette one wheel wheelchair for hiking – electrical and non electrical versions

The Joëlette wheelchair link:

Innovation of wheel-hiking vehicles

Hiking is in many ways sparking innovation, the above concepts for trail going wheelchairs is just one example, and there are many back-country trails where these wheelchairs would work fine, also this is a new way of using wheels out on the trails. On some sensitive soils it will not be a good idea, but on many park, forest and low-land trails, and on coastal trails these new wheel-based hiking vehicles can make hiking experiences much more accessible to  people who need some assistance to follow the trails.

Research drawings and text by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Hiking and innovation through evolution

From fish to philosophers

Drawing and text by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Drawing of a fish with a backpack saying it's a backpack, other fish watching from the water
Hiking and innovation goes back a long time…

We’ve been walking up new ideas since we left the water

Innovation and hiking is one of the things that will be in focus here on both because it makes our thinking better and because it makes our products better…

And there is nothing new in that, we’ve been walking and getting ideas for hundred thousand of years, much longer than we’ve been doing much else 🙂