Hiring travel writers with a passion for discovering destinations, plenty of travel experience, able to work independently, equipped with computer and digital camera and with sound knowledge of a foreign language
This is how a typical job posting would look like. You'll read it, get excited about the fact that you've found your calling, dream about all those exotic and glamorous cities you'll visit and then you'll realize it's impossible to make a living out of it. At least that is what appears to be the case if all you want to do is write.
Found on Twitter: Good writing will soon become ubiquitous. Professional writers will soon become rare. (via @scrawledinwax)
What is important to understand is that in the age of "user generated content" everyone feels entitled to write and give an opinion on absolutely everything. Personally I'm not sure how soon GOOD writing will become ubiquitous but if the popular saying is to be trusted it will take about one million words for the average user to become a good writer. At a pace of 100 words per rant and assuming one per day it will take a couple of decades to get there.
However, professional writing and in particular professional travel writing is being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of words that floods the medium, diluting the value of the few words that have been crafted as opposed to just hammered on a keyboard. So how is a good travel writer supposed to make a living?
Someone jokingly said "become an editor". What I'm about to suggest is a variant that those specialized in travel may prefer: become a "destination editor".
Find your little corner of the world, some largely unknown region and assume it as your own. Settle there (even better if you already live there) and get to know the people, their culture, the things that make them proud and figure out why other people need to know this area. Then set up your Travel 2.0 shop, recruit eager locals to do what they already do: write lots of words, take lots of pictures, participate in lots of online forums. Once you get some momentum it's time to do your part. Craft an incredibly unique story that becomes the backbone for all those little snippets of loose content. In a way think of yourself as an anthology editor whose job is to orchestrate the ongoing story of that little, micro region of the world.
In acoustic medium, I had ventured some ideas about what type of medium we were creating through a culture of participation. Somehow I believe a great travel story fits perfectly into this type of medium.
If this sounds like something to get excited about, I may be hiring travel writers after all. Leave a comment. Stay tuned.
The latest book from Benjamin R. Barber, “Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Shallow Citizens Whole” presents a timely critic to capitalism, not as an economic theory, but as a flag to incite mass consumption where there are no real needs. Barber explains about capitalism:
…in the beginning of capitalism — in the 15th and 16th century — capitalism was focused on production, on hard work, on deferred gratification, on altruism. People investing and saving and capitalists acquiring wealth and keeping it in order to do further investments. All in the name of producing goods for people with very real needs and down the line making some profit from it as well. The problem is, today we have not a productivist economy but a consumer economy. And the emphasis today is not on production, but on consuming. And you’ve got a capitalism which is producing an awful lot of goods which are chasing very few needs, while real needs are going unmet around the world.
Very much in line with the previous post on the story of stuff, it seems that fixing the problem has nothing to do with a radical change of economic system but a fundamental shift in our attitudes as consumers.
Barber is a democratic theorist that blogs for The Huffington Post and on his own strongdemocracy.
After finding inspiration in the insightful fiction from Bruce Sterling about our hyperlocal future I wrote in hyperlocal culture:
The mechanisms that will enable society to hyperlocalize, therefore allowing to grow stronger as a unique entity are still to be developed, but if the future is anything like his imagination suggests, we are going to be fine…
That kind of optimism was only hopeful, but coming across outside.in has the power of dismissing any questions about what shape the “mechanisms” that I was referring to will have. By discovering all the conversations taking place in the blogosphere and aggregating them by neighborhood they are in fact allowing the citizens from each locality to discover the personality of the place where they live. Granted, these conversations may only be focused on certain topics right now, but I have no doubt that as the platform matures and people learn to use it, the spectrum and influence of tools like this one will be very important.
If only as an early attempt to figure out which neighborhoods will develop a better-than-average awareness of their hyperlocal potential, here is outside.in top 10 bloggiest neighborhoods in the United States:
- Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, New York
- Shaw, Washington, DC
- Downtown, Los Angeles, California
- Newton, Massachusetts
- Rogers Park, Chicago, Illinois
- Pearl District, Portland, Oregon
- Watertown, Massachusetts
- Harlem, Manhattan, New York
- Potrero Hill, San Francisco, California
- Coconut Groove, Miami, Florida
Or you can check the Top 10 Bloggiest cities, although I think that metric doesn’t have as much relevance.
I can’t wait for outside.in to start reporting on the digital noise all around the world.
hyper as in linked, and local as in location
In a fascinating dispatch from the future, author Bruce Sterling brings us the ultimate global citizen: Harvey Feldspar, who as a modern Phileas Fogg describes his encounter with world cultures with the only difference that he does it from the year 2017.
If there is a lesson to be learned from his adventures is that the future knows exactly where you are. And this knowledge is transformed into a myriad of location-aware transactions that blend your reality with your virtual self into one coherent experience that enhances your appreciation for local cultures.
People worried that ubiquity would create a boring global techno-monoculture from Seoul to Siena. But it doesn’t play out that way. In Dubai, 80 percent of everybody is a foreigner, yet its characteristic bazaars and souks thrive. That’s partly because they automatically match global demands with local supply. The more the place hyperlocalizes, the more like itself it becomes.
I had explored the idea of homogenization -or monoculture- in the post jazz & macdonald’s and have constantly pushed forward the idea that migrants are among the most important forces shaping local cultures around the world; but the mastery with which Sterling settles the concerns the public may have had with the threat of global brands taking over our culture is possibly visionary. The mechanisms that will enable society to hyperlocalize, therefore allowing to grow stronger as a unique entity are still to be developed, but if the future is anything like his imagination suggests, we are going to be fine even if surrounded by information-hungry gizmos
Jorge from Catenary has a brilliant post about life as an immigrant:
Being an immigrant can be an alienating experience: you come to a strange city and you just take it for granted ‚Äìyou‚Äôre there but you could be anywhere, the city‚Äôs history is a blur, it‚Äôs just a place where you sleep, eat, and work, it‚Äôs a space that simply is not home.
Making it home is laborious, but fascinating if you‚Äôre up to it. I‚Äôve been in Toronto for more than 3.5 years, and I keep discovering corners and stories that make me appreciate it all the better.
At this point his post does a very interesting analysis of urban archeology, digging precious bits of information about his adoptive city from an old map, circa 1898. In the process of doing so, he has probably become more knowledgeable about Toronto (Canada) than many native Torontonias. And before I get all kinds of rants denying this fact, let me point out that I’ve seen this effect take place very commonly. In fact, I admit that it was only after I left my country of origin that I found myself interested in its history and culture in ways that were never so strong while I lived there.
It may be interesting to leverage the capacity that immigrants have to appreciate a city to such degree as this knowledge could provide important ideas on how a city must evolve. Combine this with the fact that certain immigrants have experienced life in many different places and you have a powerful engine to lead urban improvements.
One of my favorite sites, WorldChanging posted the article Can Migration Change the World? by Alex Steffen. I applaud the fact that migration is recognized as a force that can shape the world and lead positive change:
Maybe we need to start to rethink migration, not in the light of the discussions we’ve had in the past (huddled masses and all), but in the light of a 21st Century, globally-intertwined society. Migrants, though they may be looking to better themselves, ought perhaps to be seen (here in the Global North) as our partners in creating the prosperity we expect; and we ought to perhaps regard our interactions with them as the best opportunity we have for global diplomacy and sustainable development
However, realizing that we have explored this topic in much more depth here I felt compelled to add a few comments to their post:
You address the usual issues: remittances, migrant integration and even suggest a few novel ideas such as micro-financing which is proving to be quite effective for certain type of action. Allow me to share what I’ve learned after almost a year of editing the Global Culture blog:
To talk about the North and the South as if each belongs to different kinds of people is an outdated view. Look around, wherever you live and realize the South IS in the North. While migration waves are not as strong as they were at the beginning of the XX century, they are close to those numbers and modern globalization is just getting warmed up. So, there is no point in talking about policies to manage migrants as within a generation they will be well rooted into whichever destination they pick.
Instead, we must emphasize on an education that promotes global awareness, that embraces the fact that there is a profound connection between almost any two cities, because this will be true in the not-too-distant future. We must learn from the cities that have thrived as a result of their numerous migrant populations because these social experiments are the most likely scenario for all others.
In a true Global Culture, empowered global citizens can embrace their new identity as cultural ambassadors, finding ways to create links with their places of origin. There is very strong evidence that second-generations to the current wave of migrants will produce masses of Third Culture Kids with ample sense of tolerance for other cultures, allowing more profound integration.
Regardless, I think is a huge step to share the goal of a better future through the proper understanding on global issues such as migration.