Scripted Journeys: Authenticity in Hypermediated Tourism is out now with De Gruyter.
The ubiquity of computation in daily life has had a decisive influence on the imaginative aspects of tourism. Online knowledge of the world is readily available through mapping services, social media, travel blogs, and online reviews. From booking and Googling to posting and reminiscing: all stages of one’s trip can be guided and augmented by increasingly connective, personalized, and optimized algorithmic systems.
In the face of this informational abundance, hypermediated tourism is fixated on access to authenticity. Peer-to-peer accommodation offers tourists a chance to “live like a local.” Professional bloggers instruct not just on where, but on how to travel. Review websites aggregate the feedback of millions into “objective,” data-driven authentication of destinations. And virtual technologies take users to places they could not dream of reaching physically.
Based on a comparative ethnography of touristic blogs and vlogs, review websites, and video game environments, Scripted Journeys presents a critical analysis of touristic practice in digital ecologies. This hypermediated tourism engages technology as a harbinger of self-possession and waywardness, yet produces its own forms of digital dependence. The resulting “scripted journeys” internalize a tension between authenticity as autonomy and control and the implicit compliance of making use of technological extensions.