Yelp Reviewers’ Authenticity Fetish Is White Supremacy in Action

Excerpt from this article:

When reviewers picture authenticity in ethnic food, they mentally reference all the experiences they’ve had before with that cuisine and the people who make it — and most of the time, reviewers view those experiences, whether from personal interaction or from interacting with media, as not positive. Reviews tend to reflect the racism already existing in the world; people’s biases come into play.

According to my data, the average Yelp reviewer connotes “authentic” with characteristics such as dirt floors, plastic stools, and other patrons who are non-white when reviewing non-European restaurants. This happens approximately 85 percent of the time. But when talking about cuisines from Europe, the word “authentic” instead gets associated with more positive characteristics. This quote from a reviewer commenting on popular Korean barbecue restaurant Jongro illustrates the bias: “we went for this authentic spot with its kitschy hut decor much like those found in Korea”

Advertisements

American Airlines is offering biometric boarding at LAX Terminal 4

American Airlines is offering biometric boarding at LAX Terminal 4

Excerpt from this article:

The program will let American test whether passengers like and are willing to use facial recognition to expedite the boarding process and ensure that the technology meets Customs and Border Protection requirements.

Gemalto’s tech can replace boring old paper boarding passes by instantly matching passenger faces against the pre-populated Department of Homeland of Security database.

Is Geotagging on Instagram Ruining Natural Wonders? Some Say Yes

Excerpt from this article:

Sorry, Instagrammers. You are ruining Wyoming.

Last week, the Jackson Hole Travel & Tourism Board asked visitors to stop geotagging photographs on social media in an effort to protect the state’s pristine forests and remote lakes. Explaining the campaign, Brian Modena, a tourism-board member, suggested the landscape was under threat from visitors drawn by the beautiful vistas on Instagram.

Delta Lake, a remote refuge surrounded by the towering Grand Tetons, has become “a poster child for social media gone awry,” Mr. Modena said in an interview last week. “Influencers started posting from the top of the lake. Then it started racing through social media.” (Influencers, if you don’t know, are people with huge social media followings who sometimes make a living posting about places and products.)

How Asian Social Media Transformed a Quiet U.K. Walking Spot

Excerpt from this article:

“When we search for London on social media, it’s the first thing we see,” Hyeon Hui Shin, a 28-year-old tourist from South Korea, said of the East Sussex cliffs, known as the Seven Sisters. “I didn’t know it was so far from London!”

The Seven Sisters — stark, white chalk cliffs facing the English Channel — have long been popular among hikers, a hardy, “walking type,” said Fran Downton, a marketing manager at Tourism South East, the region’s tourist board.

But over the past two years, visitors from China have been increasingly hopping on trains to make day trips here from London. Travelers from South Korea have now started joining them. And they are largely inspired by the cliffs’ appearances in social media, films — especially the “Harry Potter” series — and by recommendations from celebrities.

Instravel – A Photogenic Mass Tourism Experience

Instravel – A Photogenic Mass Tourism Experience from Oliver KMIA on Vimeo.

 

From the video description:

I came up with this idea last year while traveling in Roma. I wanted to take a look at the popular Trevi Fountain but I never managed to get close to it. The place was assaulted by hundreds of tourists, some of them formed a huge line to get a spot in front of the Fountain. Needless to say that I was very pissed by this sight and left for the not less crowded Pantheon.

I was shocked by the mass of people walking all around the city, yet I was one of them, not better or worst. Like all these tourists, I burned hundred of gallons of fuel to get there, rushed to visit the city in a few days and stayed in a hotel downtown… I decided to make this kind of sarcastic video but with the focus on travel and mass tourism…

While the era of mass world tourism and global world travel opened up in the 60s and 70s with the development of Jumbo Jets and low cost airlines, there is a new trend that consists of taking pictures everywhere you go to share it on social networks. During my trip, I felt that many people didn’t really enjoy the moment and were hooked to their smartphones. As if the ultimate goal of travel was to brag about it online and run after the likes and followers.

What will travel look like in 50 years’ time?

Excerpt from this article:

The future airport
Says who? Declan Collier, CEO of London City Airport
“With the airport of the future, your journey will begin wherever you want it to – you’ll be able to check in and deposit your luggage at your hotel, office or train station. You won’t even notice being searched as you pass through security. Your experience will be completely tailored – so your regular coffee order will be waiting on arrival, a virtual shopping terminal will be brought to your seat, and your dry cleaning will be handed to you when you land. You’ll board and disembark planes without feeling like you’ve been in an airport at all.”

Welcome to Airspace

Excerpt from this article:

Every time Schwarzmann alights in a foreign city he checks the app, which lists food, nightlife, and entertainment recommendations with the help of a social network-augmented algorithm. Then he heads toward the nearest suggested cafe. But over the past few years, something strange has happened. “Every coffee place looks the same,” Schwarzmann says. The new cafe resembles all the other coffee shops Foursquare suggests, whether in Odessa, Beijing, Los Angeles, or Seoul: the same raw wood tables, exposed brick, and hanging Edison bulbs.

It’s not that these generic cafes are part of global chains like Starbucks or Costa Coffee, with designs that spring from the same corporate cookie cutter. Rather, they have all independently decided to adopt the same faux-artisanal aesthetic. Digital platforms like Foursquare are producing “a harmonization of tastes” across the world, Schwarzmann says. “It creates you going to the same place all over again.”

…We could call this strange geography created by technology “AirSpace.” It’s the realm of coffee shops, bars, startup offices, and co-live / work spaces that share the same hallmarks everywhere you go: a profusion of symbols of comfort and quality, at least to a certain connoisseurial mindset. Minimalist furniture. Craft beer and avocado toast. Reclaimed wood. Industrial lighting. Cortados. Fast internet. The homogeneity of these spaces means that traveling between them is frictionless, a value that Silicon Valley prizes and cultural influencers like Schwarzmann take advantage of. Changing places can be as painless as reloading a website. You might not even realize you’re not where you started.

It’s possible to travel all around the world and never leave AirSpace, and some people don’t… As an affluent, self-selecting group of people move through spaces linked by technology, particular sensibilities spread, and these small pockets of geography grow to resemble one another, as Schwarzmann discovered: the coffee roaster Four Barrel in San Francisco looks like the Australian Toby’s Estate in Brooklyn looks like The Coffee Collective in Copenhagen looks like Bear Pond Espresso in Tokyo. You can get a dry cortado with perfect latte art at any of them, then Instagram it on a marble countertop and further spread the aesthetic to your followers.

This confluence of style is being accelerated by companies that foster a sense of placelessness, using technology to break down geography. Airbnb is a prominent example. Even as it markets unique places as consumable goods, it helps its users travel without actually having to change their environment, or leave the warm embrace of AirSpace…

The connective emotional grid of social media platforms is what drives the impression of AirSpace. If taste is globalized, then the logical endpoint is a world in which aesthetic diversity decreases. It resembles a kind of gentrification: one that happens concurrently across global urban centers. Just as a gentrifying neighborhood starts to look less diverse as buildings are renovated and storefronts replaced, so economically similar urban areas around the world might increasingly resemble each other and become interchangeable…

Yet the AirSpace aesthetic that Airbnb has contributed to, and the geography it creates, limits experiences of difference in the service of comforting a particular demographic (“the vanilla tourist”) falsely defined as the norm. It is a “hallucination of the normal,” as Koolhaas writes. This is the harmful illusion that so much technology, and technological culture, perpetuates: if you do not fit within its predefined structures as an effective user, you must be doing something wrong.