Tag: Internet

Internet in the Skies?

World Hum contributor Eric Weiner had a fantastic op-ed piece on N.P.R. on Wednesday in which he passionately argues against internet availability on airplanes. “Some of my best ideas take flight at 35,000 feet,” he says. “It could be the thin air up there, but I think there’s another reason: disconnection. No e-mail, no cell phones.”

“The airline cabin represents the last refuge from ubiquitous connectivity,” he continues, “the last place where we are forced, for better or worse, to be with ourselves ... and our thoughts.”

I agree. I spend most flights in a trance-like state, staring out the window, absently watching a movie or listening to music. As Eric Weiner put it, I love that time with myself—I find it to be rejuvenating, centering.

I absolutely don’t want my cell phone (or, more importantly, my neighbor’s cell phone) to work. But I’m also conflicted, I’ll admit. I check my email about as frequently as I blink. If, one day, internet access were not only available on all or most flights, but was free—would I use it and enjoy it? Absolutely. And, in that case, would something have been lost about air travel, as Eric Weiner argues? Perhaps.

Southwest Airlines, by the way, has said it is beginning to test free internet access via satellite on one plane.

Logging On

Internet access is available almost everywhere. But is that ruining travelers' experiences overseas? Jim Benning reflects on the rise of internet cafes around the globe.

See the full audio slideshow: »

To Seattle, Guided Only by User-Generated Information

A writer for Slate tried to pull off a trip to Thailand guided by user-generated information last year, but ended up purchasing a copy of Lonely Planet. Now another writer has tried a similar experiment. Wayne Curtis appears to have made it all the way through his trip to the Pacific Northwest without picking up some professional dead-tree media, but with mixed results. “For travelers, as for so many other Web users, the Internet is great for finding the needle in the haystack,” he writes in the Atlantic. “But it’s not so good at finding the haystack—at culling infinite possibilities into a manageable list of options.”

Is Max Gogarty the New Kellie Pickler?

Well, there may not be a video going around for this one, but a major travel blogging scandal is generating plenty of attention. The chronology, so far as I can tell, goes like this:


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Travel: It’s ‘Stuff White People Like’*

Just like microbreweries and Sarah Sliverman and expensive sandwiches. The word about white people’s affinity for travel comes not from an Onion story, but from the satirical blog Stuff White People Like. Travel is post No. 19, and it lands a few funny blows at the expense of backpackers.

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Update: Starwood Closing Virtual Aloft Hotel in Second Life

Image of Aloft Hotel via Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

That was fast. Last year, Starwood created some buzz for its new Aloft hotel brand by debuting an outpost in the virtual world Second Life. Now, according to the Los Angeles Times, the experiment is over. “There’s not a compelling reason to stay,” said Brian McGuinness, vice president of Aloft, a part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. McGuinness says the virtual property did serve a purpose—the idea for radios in the showers at real-world Alofts, among other things, came from suggestions by Second Life users.

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Tips on Using TripAdvisor, or How to Not Get the Room Next to the Jackhammering at 5 a.m.

Photo by Brandon Pajamas via Flickr, (Creative Commons).

Most experienced travelers are well aware of the potential pitfalls of making hotel decisions based on TripAdvisor reviews. Which reviews to trust? Is a negative review legit? Or is the writer simply out to help a competing business? The Wall Street Journal has published a helpful look at the many ways that experienced TripAdvisor users sort through reviews to find ones they can trust. The article’s author, Nancy Keates, quickly moves beyond the obvious tactic of looking for patterns and discarding opinions at odds with the bulk of a hotel’s reviews. What other strategies do readers use?

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Internet Phone Service: Convenient, But at What Cost?

Photo by ling883 via flickr (Creative Commons).

When somebody dials Clifford J. Levy’s telephone number in Brooklyn, the call is immediately forwarded to St. Petersburg, Russia. For Levy, who now resides in St. Petersburg, that’s generally a good thing. For a modest monthly fee, he can dial up his family back home, and when his daughter gets lonely in Russia, she can call friends in New York, too—all thanks to an Internet phone service. But as much as he loves the convenience of it, Levy wonders about the drawbacks, and not just when the telemarketers call in the middle of the night, which happens to be dinner time in New York. “In the past, cut off from your old life, you may have tried harder to immerse yourself in your new one,” he writes in the New York Times. “That was part of the allure of being an expatriate: learning a new language, overcoming isolation by trying to cultivate friends among the locals, making daily discoveries about another part of the world.” Now, he adds, that’s just more difficult to do.

Second Life Welcomes Virtual Tourism

It’s got at least one hotel and a travel guide, so it was only a matter of time before we read a real travel story about virtual travels in Second Life. Matt Gross’s piece in the Escapes section of the New York Times covers a virtual weekend in the virtual space. His thoughts: There’s a lot of dancing and, in some ways, it really is like being on the road. “I’d had brief chats with a dozen Second Life residents—the unreality makes it easy to approach them—but had made no real connection. In a way, it was because I really was a tourist,” Gross writes. “I had nothing invested in this world, while they were building houses and yachts, organizing rock concerts and fashion shows and creating virtual refugee camps to educate people about Darfur.”

Ramon Stoppelenburg: Let Him Stay for a Day

Michael Yessis talks about the goodness of strangers and the logistics of travel with the world's only full-time guest

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