In an age where there are mobile phone apps to do everything from reserve parking spaces to practice dental surgery, it's not surprising that there are apps for something that skateboarders spend much of their time doing: finding skate spots.
It's a weird concept for us, but we thought we'd try a few of them out. Skatespots, Hubba, Skate Maps each got a run through our phones, and they all do essentially the same thing: show you where spots are near you. None of the three delivered much in terms of surprises (few of our favorite low key spots were listed, thankfully). If you're new to skateboarding or are in an unfamiliar place, an app on your phone seems like a good way to find spots. However, each have ways to add your own spots, so perhaps it's just a matter of time before anywhere anyone has ever skated is listed on the internet.
The places we skate have always held a special place in street skateboarding, and that's what makes the notion of listing every spots feel so weird. You find them with your friends, different crews know where different spots are, and unless we're talking about the world's centralized skate plazas, spots take work to find. There's a good chance you don't want to see that cellar door to Philly step you texted to your friends showing up in somebody else's video. You found it, you want to skate it.
Even though it appears we're safe for now, what's going to happen if it becomes the norm to list spots via apps? Although it'd make finding skateable terrain easier, it could quite easily lead to some serious problems. Skaters unfamiliar with how things work could end up treating spots in a way that creates problems for skaters in general. Much to the shock of property owners, security guards, and annoyed passersby, skaters actually care about what happens at the places they skate. They want to be able to come back and have the spot the way they left it. It's a lot easier to leave trash or carelessly break something at a spot when you know you've got 500 more in your pocket. Also, let's get real: kids relying on an app to find spots are probably going to bring their friends on Razor scooters. The inclusion of these apps in our lives raises some serious questions.
Then again, maybe we're thinking about this wrong. The high accessibility levels of spot knowledge of the internet era could be what's led to videos like those made by LurkNYC and the Hill Street Blues series from Magenta - videos focused on the skating seemingly random obstacles, driveway gaps, and hill bombing instead of one upping what's been done on established spots. Maybe the in the future we'll think differently about what a 'spot' is.
Or at least know better than to share our favorite spots with anyone other than our friends.