disassociation of information - travel edition

January 12, 2010 ·

i'm not a big traveler by any stretch. this past vacation was my first in 7 years (my honeymoon) and only by virtue of having won the trip (otherwise it would have been longer). i like seeing the sights, but it's often very shallow for me so i'm not keenly interested.

you see, i'm a big nerd, information junkie (most often a useless information junkie) and somewhat history buff. i like knowledge, but too often that knowledge is disassociated with the physical object or site you are seeing. some people like just being there and seeing it, but for me, what makes it interesting is all the information behind it which is located in a library, or online, or in people's heads and not all at the source.

that's disassociation. something i've been meaning to write about for some time and will shortly about a number of other things. digital solves the disassociation.

sure there are tour guides (or small tour books), but that's still very superficial. maybe enough for some, but not for me. also, the tour guides can't possibly speak to everything and perhaps i'm interested in something they don't know about or isn't part of the tour. if i'm looking at the mona lisa, that's great, i can see it's well painted. but the real interesting part is about da vinci, the time it was made (all the cultural and economic influences), the style, who it was (though i don't think that's known – bad example), and how it got to here (changing hands, restoration, preservation, etc). if it's a building, then the architect, the style, why is it important (who used it and for what), factoids about its features (hidden symbols or what-have-you) and anything else notable.

to me, this type of information is most valuable when presented with the thing of note. you can behold what you're reading and see it with a much more informed viewpoint. it's much more powerful to solidify the imprint in your brain of the object along with its corresponding background

as a fun little bit of synchronicity to go with theses thoughts was all the talk about the changes in the mobile world, namely Android and the Apple tablet. both of these technologies and whatever else becomes of this unfolding landscape are precisely the answer to the disassociation.

imagine going to an art museum or in my case a site of the mayan ruins, and renting out a tablet or downloading a digital tour guide to your mobile device. there you'd have the breadth of information of your location to make it a complete and informed experiences. you become your own tour guide and build your experience as you wish with vast knowledge on the subject matter and also the inputs of everyone else (as noted above).

aside from renting a device or downloading something, the evolution of location based services has a huge impact on the travel industry. aside from that wealth of information being accessible instantly as your location is determined, there is also the casual tourism side of things. walking down the street in a foreign place just opened up a whole lot of opportunities with LBS.

information is freedom, and the new digital tourist will have the freedom to take in as much or as little of the experience as anyone could want. and the ever emerging mobile platforms will be driving force to combat disassociation of information.

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