Monday, September 19, 2011

"Pics or It Didn't Happen"

Today I reread parts of a paper I submitted for Anth 424 last year; its topic was ghost tours in Los Angeles, so chosen because it was both appropriate for the particular class (anthropology of the supernatural) and could feed into the research for my thesis project.  Its background goes into defining tourism and some particular aspects that apply to both general, mainstream tourism as well as ghost tours. 

After reading, I came up with a few general concepts which I may wish to further explore when re-exploring tourism’s defining characteristics:

Types of Tourism (may overlap):
- Adventure
- Luxury
- Escape
- Consumption

Requirements for Tourism (not all apply to every type):
- Comfort & safety
- Varying degrees of organized activity; or, activity with a purpose
- Expected highlights (landmarks & activities)
- Documentation

Comfort & safety – Especially in adventure or eco tourism, this differentiates tourism from other, non-touristic instances of travel (though the boundaries may blur a bit).  There is an understood sense that tourists will remain safe and relatively comfortable.  Tourist services are first and foremost businesses, and as such need to follow certain legal & ethical constraints; when things go wrong, businesses are liable (unless legally-binding consent forms are involved).  Landmarks have signs all around them – signs of warning, or guidelines to lead the visitor across the proper path, attempting to minimize incidents of injury or death.  These signs are placed to maintain the safety of its visitors as well as its associated workers.

Organized activity/activity with a purpose & expected highlights – Tourists visit places with particular goals and generally attempt to maximize their time; some places/activities are of a higher priority.

Documentation – In my personal experience, before leaving on any vacation, my friends & family always tell me to take lots of pictures.  While photos & videos are the most common way of documentation, other forms include text-based updates in real-time, through Facebook, Twitter & other blogs/social media websites.  It’s my impression that there is an overwhelming sense that a vacation didn’t really happen unless it was documented.  There’s a common phrase that is often used for any kind of unusual situation (at least in my generation), and applies here as well: “pics or it didn’t happen.”

These are just a few thoughts... If anyone reading this has an idea or two to contribute (or completely disagrees!), I'd love to hear from you.

*BONUS QUESTION* – What are some instances where the boundaries between tourism & non-tourism are a bit blurred?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Kindle and a Guilty Conscience

By next Thursday, I will have a Kindle.

As a professed bibliophile, in a sense, I’m a little ashamed of myself.  Though the choice was not entirely my own (it was my father’s idea), I can admit, with a little guilt, that I’m excited by the shiny-new-toy-ness of it, and that perhaps the novelty will tempt me to pay a bit more attention to my courses’ reading assignments.  (Not that I’ve fallen behind, yet… There’s just SO much, this semester!)  And I did also get a fancy leather cover, with a built-in light!  (This way it also looks like a book, when closed.  It was important that my Kindle could still visually represent a traditional book.)

All things considered, having a Kindle will be a practical choice for a few reasons, such as:
  • Having a full library of course books, available all at once
  • Better readability for eBooks than presently available on my iPhone
  • Note-taking, in a searchable, non-scribble form
  • Long battery life and lots of study time/entertainment for travel use

Admittedly, I still like the margin-scribbling approach to note-taking, but the other qualities have won over, in general.

Now, do I still feel just a little bit like I’ve sold my soul?  Erm… Yeah, a little.  But you won’t catch me boxing up my book collection any time soon.  At present, my book collection takes up a considerable amount of visible space in my bedroom (and out of view as well – in an old toy box, in light-proof boxes, and even stuffed in corners of my bed frame), as well as in the living room, and in the garage (mostly books from childhood there).  Some of my most prized possessions are a few ancient tomes.  I love the looks and styles of books, the scent of old and new books (used bookstores may well be perfumeries), and their very tactile nature… The promises they hold, the excitement of browsing a bookstore and pulling a new title off the shelf… Every bit of it. 

I love books, in their physical form.  But I don’t feel that my choice to use a Kindle will take those experiences away.  Even more than my love for their physical qualities, I prize the ideas held within books.  And so, I will live with both methods of reading.  I am a consumer of books – now of both traditional and digital means. 

"Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life." (Mark Twain)