Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

There are so many places to visit - how great would Machu Pichu be? Nepal? I'd love to take the kids around Europe, Japan ...but oh the jet fuel, oh the carbon, oh the cost.

Could this be an answer? Virtual tourism? Not only could we be entering a day of high res and even 3d experiences of place online (I "walked" through the streets of Pompeii the other day), but perhaps the next step is finding a way to incorporate the people that make a place alive.Go to virtual New Orleans and experience the jazz. Wander Stonehenge on the solstice. Go anywhere and hang with locals who actually want to talk with tourists, share their stories, learn about where you came from.

Is it too far fetched? About eight years ago, I had the chance to visit Angkor Wat - it was stunning, incredible, I recommend it to anyone except that's the problem. Carvings that had survived for centuries slowing getting rubbed away, the infrastructure and energy needed to support multitudes, etc.

That said, the drive to open it to tourism helped get the landmines cleared ...

What's the answer? I'm not sure, but Bing Maps, Google Earth, and their descendants may let us trend lightly, but far ...

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Comment by Massive Attack on March 23, 2010 at 2:49am
Good point. While I hope to visit many places, it would be beneficial environmentally & enable me to see & experience more wonderful places if i virtually went to a majority of them. I've never thought of this before...Nice
Comment by Raymond M. Kristiansen on March 23, 2010 at 4:44am
A few things here. First of all, I loved the augmented reality hook, and I hope to some day read more about that, and how people could play around with that - not only in places with 4g network (geez), but in places where perhaps regular GSM networks are the only ones available. We know that in Africa, for instance, there arent that many spots with 4G coverage.

I hadnt heard about Bing Maps before, so that was a new one, thanks. What I love about these TED talks is that sometimes, they are really open-ended, and they act as sparks of inspiration.

Let's look at this scenario:

* I am a Norwegian, and one evening I would like to connect with people in Cameroon. How would we find each other? How could I see THEIR context in terms of map/environment, and also how they are living right now? In this video, they showed us some market. Good proof of concept, but boring for our cause. What would it take for us to experiment with this with people LIVE on the spot in Cameroon? Pictures, maybe. Pictures, sent back and forth. not of people sitting in front of web cameras, but people within their context - where the computer/communication tool is taken outside, outside of the room, the inside, and is embedded within the daily life. What if I could view the image of someone or even maybe lo-fi video, video shot a few moments ago. Something live or near-live, and at the same time stored. Stored within a grid of coordinates. Stored with connections to other media.

Virtual Tourism isnt a new concept, but I haven't seen many good implementations of it. Mostly something that is for the few "in the know". Implementation in a lab or university's IT department is nice, but only as proof of concept.

So, what do you think? How could we use something like this among EVOKE agents to embed our own reality? To share it? And to view others. View their reality. Link with it.

Some time ago I asked Michelle Kim, a friend here on Evoke, to videotape her visit to an interesting store while she visited it. If she did that, and shared it, could we take that video within a framework of online tools where that video can be seen with other similar videos? (using Flickr database, or other databases)

Lots to think about here. Thanks!
Comment by Mark Mulkerin on March 23, 2010 at 5:15am
How to connect - that is the rub.

One strategy would be to have virtual tourist centers that service specific sites. Say I've always wanted to go to Norway and see what fjords look like up close and personal and for a lot less than a plane ticket, I get shown around the virtual fjords and told about Viking Sagas by someone with local knowledge. It would help support the local communities (in your case Cameroon) without some of the negatives. Perhaps if the technology permits, one could even hire a guide to walk around with a web connected video and such giving you the option to actually pause, take a closer look, etc.

But life isn't just about programmed tours and you want to get to know the locals. One possibility is allow people who are online to share real world location information with others. For example, you want to look about Singapore's sights and I happen to be online in Singapore and have put out the sign indicating where I am and that I'm willing to chat. Maybe everyone has a local avatar and a wandering avatar. You approach me to ask about whether to go to Orchard Road or Sentosa Island while maybe someone approaches your local avatar in Oslo to ask about something else.

Heck, with the wh*** tilt detection in the iTouch and its kin, you could literally look a place up and down ...

It would replace the experience, but it would be an alternative and available too many, many more people.

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