About Open Explorer

I'm David Lang - a National Geographic Explorer and citizen scientist.

Open Explorer was originally launched in 2014 because I recognized there was a need for a place to tell stories and collaborate with a community that cared about science, exploration, and storytelling. We built a platform that allows you to connect with others, raise money as you go, and tell your story as it unfolds. It’s a new way to share fieldwork, projects, and expeditions of all sizes.

In 2018, I partnered with National Geographic and its rich storytelling history to take Open Explorer to the next level. We have lofty goals: democratizing exploration and empowering everyone to follow their curiosity and participate in science. As we grow, we are building more tools, growing the community, and sharing your stories with the National Geographic audience.

Open Explorer is a community powered by our digital field journal platform. It’s for everyone: university researchers to citizen scientists, students to professional explorers. If you have a story to tell or a place to explore anywhere in the world, you can do it here.

How did Open Explorer start?

In 2012, Eric Stackpole and I set off to find lost treasure in an underwater cave in Northern California. Equipped with a DIY underwater robot we had built in Eric's garage, we found the cave and proceeded to send our little robot down the water-filled pit to the murky bottom below. To nobody's surprise, we didn't find any treasure. However, we found something much better. In fact, we made two important discoveries that day. The first is that the world was waiting for a new type of underwater drone, which we've continued to build and improve on over at sofarocean.com.

But the second lesson was much more subtle and equally powerful: we're living in a new golden age for exploration. All of a sudden, thanks to new tools and powerful connectivity, it's possible for a group of friends to band together and explore the edges of what humans know and understand.

What's an expedition?

An expedition can be any story a curious person or group wants to tell about their world. Expeditions on Open Explorer range from fully funded groups exploring our oceans to the high school student using drones to explore and document their neighborhood. The only requirement to start an expedition: You have to be curious.

Each entry on Open Explorer is a geotagged timeline that documents a given expedition in text, photos and video. As you scroll through the timestamped posts, the adjacent map adjusts to show the expedition’s geographic movements.

How do I join the community?

Each person needs their own Open Explorer profile in order to interact with the community, comment, and follow expeditions. Click “Sign In” on the navigation bar to get started.

How do I follow what others are doing on Open Explorer?

Head to the Expedition Discover page to get inspired and start following expeditions that are happening right now. You can use our map feature to zero in on expeditions near you or in places you are interested in. You'll receive email updates with the statuses of the expeditions you follow.

I'm ready to start my own expedition!

When you're ready to begin your own expedition, no matter how large or small, head over to our detailed guide to get started.