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Visiting the Borderless City: Traveling via the Internet
Unformatted Document Text:  Perhaps the best examples of the Internet’s capacity to provide customized information on a city are the many photos and live images available of cities around the world. 16 These photos may provide images outside of the major attractions and pleasant locations featured by dominant tourism sites. They may also contain text that directly undermines the orderly space of the tourist bubble. For example, UrbanPhoto.org a Web site dedicated to providing ’a critical look at the urban environment and the issues that affect it,’ provides images from cities such as Boston, Melbourne, Montreal and New York, but it also contains essays on contemporary urban problems. One essay discussed the state of homelessness in U.S. Cities and contained links to activist organizations like the National Coalition for the Homeless as well as news sites ranging from the New York Times to the San Francisco Independent Media Center (DeWolf, 2002). UrbanPhoto.org reveals how the Web can make salient a part of urban life that most city officials try hard to hide from tourists. Here it becomes clear how the Internet enables travelers to personalize their experience of a city outside the standard tourist itineraries--visiting a historic church or dancing at a trendy nightclub--in realms not intended for public consumption. After looking at the UrbanPhoto.org site, someone could visit San Francisco with the intention of looking for the new measures implemented by the mayor to control homelessness. Alternatively, a traveler may look for graffiti in the tunnels of New York’s subway after visiting the New York Subway Resources Web site. Or, a visitor to Seattle may try to locate the street where a major confrontation took place between police and IMF protestors after following the coverage on the Seattle Times Web site. In these examples the notion of tourism is dramatically changed. This alternative type of travel might be characterized as part of what John Urry (1995) describes as postmodern tourism. Urry argues that the rise of modern tourism was enabled by

Authors: Fotsch, Paul.
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background image
Perhaps the best examples of the Internet’s capacity to provide customized information on
a city are the many photos and live images available of cities around the world.
16
These photos
may provide images outside of the major attractions and pleasant locations featured by dominant
tourism sites. They may also contain text that directly undermines the orderly space of the
tourist bubble. For example, UrbanPhoto.org a Web site dedicated to providing ’a critical look at
the urban environment and the issues that affect it,’ provides images from cities such as Boston,
Melbourne, Montreal and New York, but it also contains essays on contemporary urban
problems. One essay discussed the state of homelessness in U.S. Cities and contained links to
activist organizations like the National Coalition for the Homeless as well as news sites ranging
from the New York Times to the San Francisco Independent Media Center (DeWolf, 2002).
UrbanPhoto.org reveals how the Web can make salient a part of urban life that most city officials
try hard to hide from tourists.
Here it becomes clear how the Internet enables travelers to personalize their experience of
a city outside the standard tourist itineraries--visiting a historic church or dancing at a trendy
nightclub--in realms not intended for public consumption. After looking at the UrbanPhoto.org
site, someone could visit San Francisco with the intention of looking for the new measures
implemented by the mayor to control homelessness. Alternatively, a traveler may look for
graffiti in the tunnels of New York’s subway after visiting the New York Subway Resources Web
site. Or, a visitor to Seattle may try to locate the street where a major confrontation took place
between police and IMF protestors after following the coverage on the Seattle Times Web site.
In these examples the notion of tourism is dramatically changed.
This alternative type of travel might be characterized as part of what John Urry (1995)
describes as postmodern tourism. Urry argues that the rise of modern tourism was enabled by


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