This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which created a legal definition of wilderness in the United States and led to the protection of more than 9.1 million acres of federal land. The author and environmental advocate Edward Abbey said, “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” However, finding places that are truly remote isn’t so easy anymore. You can get wifi on Mount Everest and in the ocean, and Google now wants to map not just your street, but places far off the beaten path.
Jason Mark, editor of Earth Island Journal, argues that maintaining places that are free from digital connectivity is a civic good and an important feature of a functioning democracy. In the third installment of our tech series, “Our Computers Ourselves,” we’ll talk with Mark about his views on connectivity and wilderness, and ask what we gain — and what we lose — from being able to update our Facebook status at the ends of the earth.