So Long Phil and Thanks for All the Fish …

2018 is only a few hours old and yet we have already had our first outdoor industry fatality. Phil Sorrell has announced that his web service, Social Hiking — Share Your Adventure is to close later in the year.

Phil established social Hiking about 8 years ago. It was a reasonably well thought out and executed website. If you didn’t ever stumble across it, Social Hiking allowed you to upload GPS routes that you had walked and even more interestingly social hiking allowed walkers to upload their routes as they actually walked. Over the 8 years Social Hiking has amassed an extraordinary library of waling routes that ordinary (and extraordinary) walkers have actually walked!

I first saw Social Hiking before I think it was officially launched. I was walking through the Balmacaan Forest with young Phil Turner. Every now and then I would loose Phil. I’d always find him on high ground messing with a mobile — he was trying to upload his latest coordinates to social hiking.

Social Hiking is one of those services that should — if there is any justice in the world — become really big. I interviewed Phil back in 2013 for the Outdoor Station and the podcast which is still available is worth listening to.

Phil is a very talented computer programer and an outdoor enthusiast, one who wanted to put something back into the ‘community’. Phil had lots of ideas as to how the service could be developed and many of these would be revolutionary if only the development work could have been funded.

I many ways it has been a great achievement to have carried on so long. Phil had to have patience and resilience in spades. The earliest iterations of social Hiking picky-backed on one of our popular computer mapping services (who shall remain nameless). Phil’s work not only enhanced their offering but drove new customers to it. His reward was to be treated quite badly with the said company then trying to replicate these ideas themselves — needless to say they never got it right.

Phil and I introduced the idea to another computer company who could see real potential intros development. Sadly, they were in the same boat as Phil and neither were really in the position to finance the development necessary to make these ideas a reality. 

Like many outdoor online pioneers Phil had to eat!  As a community we are probably just too small to attract the investment that would have developed fabulous product (or perhaps we are just cheapskates).

Phil developed Social Hiking while coping with a number a difficulties and setbacks. In recent years he has relocated to the South West and developed a new life there. He’s still doing innovative things in IT and still committed to producing ideas and products that have real social value, this time in the social and cooperative housing world.

It would be nice to think that good ideas will eventually come to the fore but sadly the story of social hiking shows that this is often not the case. Phil will be keeping social Hiking operative until the 2018 TGO Challenge has finished — both Challengers and the TGO Challenge Organisers use the service to post and plot their progress.

You can still explore social Hiking until the end of May I guess. And if you have a surplus of funds to invest in a fabulous business idea, well I guess there is still potential!

Thanks Phil for everything. And all the best for the future.

Social Hiking — Share Your Adventure

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