In praise of the situation report!

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By Kathleen Edie, Volunteer & Expedition Coordinator Some will lament, others will cheer that the village of Andavadoaka has joined the digital age.  It seems that after 7 long years of twice weekly satellite phone exchanges, the much maligned and mostly loved situation report ‘sitrep’ will disappear, and the interweb will be at our fingertips.

For those who have not been fortunate enough to be isolated from the online world in the Blue Ventures field site bubble, you will now never know the anticipation of  words from loved ones or instructions ‘from London’ arriving on Tuesday and Friday mornings.  The construction of a very tall, very red, solar powered spire will spell the end of the ‘situation report’, the email package sent between London and Andavadoaka with news and greetings, words of encouragement and debate, conversations which take weeks, important data and those ‘quick’ questions.

When I first started with Blue Ventures it was soon apparent that the regular sitreps were of grave importance.  They were fiddly to put together; all exporting, collating, reducing file sizes, adhering to vaguely similar naming conventions and, should something go wrong, the source of great consternation!  After time, they represented a deadline to be met, hurried last minute emails giving up-to-date information, or getting in that question which would take another week to answer if it wasn’t asked that minute.  But I have always looked forward to receiving the sitrep, hearing what is happening on site, getting some vital bit of information, enjoying the experiences that volunteers write about in their blogs and getting to know my colleagues before ever meeting them in person.

Now I can ask a question and it will be answered, I’ll get facebook updates and not word docs, the photos will come in all the time, not just once every couple of months – but will it all be a little less exciting?

Although many a parent and partner will be pleased to hear from their intrepid loved-one more than once a week and the working lives of the staff team, in both London and Madagascar, will be much easier than before, I can’t help feeling a little sad that the wonderful cyber-peace of Andavadoaka will be broken.  At least there is a beautiful beach or two on hand to escape to…