Essay Outline: Travel and Technology

  1. Introduction: My experiences traveling, and my personal interaction with various technologies that both aid and inhibit experiencing a place.
  2. What does it mean to experience a place? Does it mean interacting with those who live there, making an impact, leaving a footprint? Or does it mean staying away, taking photos, looking through museums, and leaving without a trace, leaving no part of yourself behind?
  3. Moving beyond what experiencing a place really is, what do we need to do to achieve this? Do we hit the ground running, trying to see as many tourist sights as possible? It might be better to sit in a café somewhere, taking in the atmosphere, watching how people in this new city go about their day. It might be best to go to a place as mundane as a grocery store – you will probably learn more about daily life in Madrid from the farmacías than you will from visiting the Museo del Prado.
  4. Technologies that help make travel possible – the positive impact of technology on travel.
    1. The Basics: Planes, trains, and automobiles. These technologies have been around since before I was born, but they are vital. They are the things that enable me to go from Columbus, Ohio, to Europe in less than 12 hours (if I time the flights correctly). Without them, travel would be much more difficult, and impossible to maintain at the rate it is now, with people coming and going from all places at all times.
    2. New technologies: Airbnb, couchsurfing, Google flights, high speed trains, social media, Cameras. These are all technologies that help to facilitate the process of travel. They make lodging cheaper (or free!), make travel cheaper, and speed up the process. It makes traveling a more streamlined experience, one that is faster and more pleasant for the consumer. They also help to connect the traveler with their environment. With technologies such as airbnb, couchsurfing, and even social media to an extent, you are able to live and interact with those who are familiar with whichever city you are in, and it adds an extra dimension to the experience that would probably be lost if you had stayed in a beige box in a high rise hotel. Social media may also help you to give a window to those that would otherwise be unable to see certain places. Along with that, cameras in all their forms help you to remember the trip, and share the experience with people around the globe.
  5. Technologies that inhibit travel/interaction – negative effects of the influx of technology on our lives.
    1. Social Media – things such as facebook, instagram, twitter. Do our experiences become more about making people jealous, or gaining meaningless likes, as opposed to really seeing something and taking it in?
    2. Cameras – with a camera at our fingertips, does what we take pictures of become less significant? When we have a camera roll of 700 photos, what is worthwhile and what isn’t? Who determines this?
    3. High Speed Trains – though generally good, could it be said that they prevent one from seeing lesser-known areas, or the seedier sides of countries? Additionally, do they feed into the culture of instant gratification that we have built worldwide.
  6. Conclusion – final thoughts on the positives and negatives of technology when traveling, and ways to harness its power without negatively impacting ourselves.
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