Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Technology and Travel

While I haven't traveled that often as of late, I have traveled quite a bit throughout my life. As a child I traveled to Europe and about 15 years ago I traveled frequently for work. However, back then travel and personal technology were not so closely linked. As a child I'd get puzzle books to entertain me. When I traveled for work I had a cell phone but it was just to make calls.

This trip I observed how technology was constantly part of the journey. I recognize this is by choice and not the experience for every traveler, but I suspect that in the future it will be the more common experience.

What follows is more simply observations of the experience. There are definitely some points below that deserve further thought. The changing focus of presence will have impact on how we interact and form relationships and what our expectations are of these relationships. It even has the potential for creating societal divides if not done with awareness. But for now, what follows is mainly my observation of my interaction with technology.


Of course I brought my laptop with me, but it stayed in its bag except for when at my parent's house, well and right now as I type this up at the airport. However, my little blackberry phone was in regular use. I was photoing the sights that caught my eye, some every day sights some slightly more artistic. Then these photos were sent up to the web, via email. Some went to Flickr, and more went to Brightkite, which I thought I would try to use more, since I was actually traveling rather than staying all in one zip code.

As I sent these pictures off I realized how much of my life I share and make public, and how different that is from only a few years ago. We live as mini-celebrities. "Look I'm here, and this is what I saw!" I suppose we have no paparazzi but ourselves, but the sharing our life as if others care is an interesting feature of our new digitally connected life. Yes,, I know other's care...but the visibility is far more than just your family/local friends/coworkers that might have seen the photos before. Even more so, because of the ease of taking and posting the photos shots of a grocery store with a Tapas bar got taken while it would have been silly or trivial to take such before.

Beyond the photo sharing nature of the trip there was also the IM client on the phone. I think I had 3 phone calls the whole trip, but I was chattering with people in private IMs and in twitter and even in chatterous.

I may have been no where near my "computer" but my phone stood in its stead. This constant partial connection is an interesting experience. Even wandering about in the world and spending time with people there were moments of communication with those distant.

Even with all that connection when I got online I still was doing catching up on missed messages on twitter and touching base with a few people through email.

I realize I have a few projects getting ramped up, and I also realize that I could have disconnected and the world wouldn't have ended. Even knowing that, it seemed natural and comfortable to be checking in and touching base with electronically connected friends. In a sense I shared my travel with others, which is a different way to fly.

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