Disruption is not something we usually associate with exploration and fieldwork. A seemingly timeless discipline and one of the oldest of human endeavours, it would be easy to assume that the only thing that changes about exploration is the equipment which is available and where the boundaries of the unexplored lie. Yet as the much highlighted shift from an exploration which aims to dominate the planet, to one which seeks to understand it shows, in a disruptive world even here there have been significant changes underfoot.
To understand how traditional concepts of exploration are being disrupted, we first need to understand what exploration is and, perhaps more importantly, what it is not. The difficulty is the scientific community has always been relatively clear in its own mind what an explorer is, the public much less so. Even if a coherent concept of an explorer does exist in the public conciseness, it is still a long way from the sort of definition that you would expect National Geographic, or the Royal Geographical Society might give. Exploration is about plumbing the unknown, about advancing human knowledge. Exploration is most definitely not pogo-sticking across the Sahara; impressive that might be, exploration it is not. By contrast, scientific discovery in often (but not always) remote or challenging environments, though not the only facet of exploration, undoubtedly is. It is that which we will be concerned with, that which we might refer to as scientific exploration.