DIGC 335 Blog Post 2 – Alex Kilborn 4500994
For the second stage of the project, a travel website/blog based on travelling lesser known locations, my focus became more on how I could relate it to the subject and technology and less about what the digital artefact actually was. For this I ended up doing two separate things. First I looked at how my topic could relate to a utopian/dystopian future and second I looked at how the implementation of technology could influence and affect this.
For the artefact’s relation to utopian and dystopian future my first thought was directed right towards rising levels of tourism. The main problem with publicising lesser travelled locations is that it will likely bring higher rates of tourism and, in turn, could ruin what made these spots so special in the first place. For this, much like the rest of my research, I relied on stories from individuals as much as I did general research. A few locations particularly stuck out to me and nearly all of them were third world countries, such as Phuket and Bali. This, however, created another thought process for me. If these locations did become overrun by tourists, this would greatly increase employment rates in areas which could sorely need it. So while I personally feel that this increase in tourism is dystopian in future for travellers, it could possibly be seen as utopian to someone who is desperate for employment. However, I was creating this assignment not them so I wanted to see how these places could be experienced without the dramatic increases in tourism. This is where technology became involved.
From early on in the assignment I implemented the use of 360 degree photography, even using a camera to take my own 360 degree photos for my website. However, this technology lead to further investigation into the idea of truly experiencing a location without having to actually go there. It was here that virtual reality began to play its part. Implementing the same 360 degree technology used in the photographs and videos I captured, websites, such as Youvisit, are beginning to run virtual tours of locations. While this is currently used for primarily business and tourism purposes, such as guided tours of universities and cities, the applications of this idea are endless. With access to a virtual reality headset an individual could, theoretically, custom tailor a trip to some of the most obscure places in the world without ever setting food in the actual location. Currently Youvisit offer virtual reality trips to many locations in the world, from Philadelphia to Guatemala, but also offer tours of many university campuses, primarily in the US, and even have some concerts recorded. This means that, in the future, individuals could explore all prospective campuses of future Australian and global universities, go to a music concert in Europe and then watch the ocean in South America all in one day, all from the comfort of their living room. While to get the full experience, including movement and full control, all virtual tours recommend visiting their offices; even today the virtual access to these locations is available on mobile phones through sites like Youvisit and 360 World.
It’s this technology I hope will aid in the utopian future I dream of for travel. This has the potential to not only allow people to see the world, but also learn about it and save it. If people could dive in the Great Barrier Reef without having to actually go to the location, than environmental concerns may be more greatly heeded. If ¾ of the people who travelled to Machu Pichu did it virtually then there would likely be no need to section off areas and it would definitely be in far better condition. This would also enable people to travel to their dream destinations who have been otherwise unable, due to circumstances such as a disability or financial hardship. While, in my opinion, virtual travel will never surpass the actual thing, the amount of good to the industry it could do is unavoidable.