Technology of Travel: Not Just a Doll in a Window

Aug 8, 2011

On a recent trip to Paris, this doll beckoned from a shop window with a display of skincare products. My cellphone video posted directly to the web, capturing out of context this funny moment.

Queen Elizabeth becoming from a shop window in Paris

 

20110808-095746.jpg

Meanwhile, I watched hundreds of tourists capturing all the sights and sounds of their travels directly to cameras and Smartphones, without context. Where were these all going?

Maremel is working on a project looking at the technologies of travel and narrative over the next few months. So much of travel now is seen through a viewfinder or from a phone camera. How does this impact our narratives of travel with others? How does this differ by culture? How is this impacting museums, trip planning, choices of alternatives, experiences of “others” who are not taking part in this snap-and-run experience?

So far, on this research trip in Washington DC, Paris, and London (which also is for pleasure, of course), we have been seeing very different responses by museums and local tourist venues to this digital engagement. Several museums we have seen have banned all photography, while others are filled with tourists video-ing their entire experiences. A few have build interactive exhibits or used iPod Touches to give that same digital information along with the tour. A few have added WiFi and the ability to plan your visit digitally when you arrive, then printing out (not downloading) your agenda.

What will the 1,300 pictures become once all these people go home? How can museums and others build these storytelling opportunities while dealing with their own intellectual property issues? Are we filling the cloud with semi-personalized photos of our three children in front of a fountain in London?

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