A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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Category — Technology

Let’s Get Social

A story that I hope doesn’t turn into a metaphor for a couple of aging boomers blogging their way around the world:

Recently a friend was bar-hopping in Georgetown, a trendy neighborhood in Washington, D.C. It’s the kind of place you could find yourself in a restaurant or bar sitting next to a second-tier actor, a reality TV star, a cable news pundit or a Congressman who should be home with his wife and kids.

On the night in question my friend was in and out of bars filled with young people. Though nearly 50, he felt younger as the night wore on. I’m sure it was the atmosphere, the company, the drinks. Okay, maybe it was the drinks.

It was getting late, people were pairing off and heading home, and soon my friend found himself chatting with a very attractive bartender. He was on his game. And though the bartender was considerably younger, he could feel the connection.

When closing time came he decided to make his move. The beautiful bartender brought his bill. He started to speak; he wasn’t slurring his words too badly.

Before he could finish his illicit thought, the bartender took his hand, looked him in the eye, and said very directly: “You old guys never know when to go home.”

Sometimes, when I’m exploring a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter, I feel like my friend must have felt that night. There’s this great party going on, and people at the party will let you hang around, but really, you’re too old to be there and shouldn’t you be home anyway?

So what is this “social web,” “social networking,” and “social media” – and what does it have to do with a travel blog?

Quite a lot, I’m finding. A significant percentage of The Wide Wide World’s traffic now comes from communities on the web where we have a presence.

Here’s a quick roundup.

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June 10, 2008   3 Comments

Reach Out and Touch Someone

A year or so ago I participated in a conference call with several different organizations working together on a project. An everyday occurrence for me and millions of other “consultants.” But there was something memorable about this call.

The host of the call was on vacation. In China. On a Yangtze River cruise near the Three Gorges Dam. Other participants called in from four different U.S. states, all on mobile phones.

Forget the difficulty coordinating time zones – think about the technology involved in that call. Yet nowadays, we take it for granted.

A similar experience: Last summer, I had to reach a client on a fairly urgent matter. I dialed his regular U.S.-based cell phone number and was connected immediately. Again, nothing unusual about that – except he was walking through the medieval quarter in Tallinn, Estonia, when he answered.

With these recent experiences as context, I was determined to find the best “phone solution” for our trip. My goal was simple. I wanted us to be able to make inexpensive local calls in each country we visited and make it easy for friends and family to reach us wherever we were traveling.

After months of research and some modest real-world testing, here’s what I learned.

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March 10, 2008   3 Comments

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When I was in college, if a student wanted to work on a computer, he or she would gather their punch cards and head off to the math building. (Not that I actually went to the math building, mind you, but I was told that’s where computer science classes were held.)

A few years later, I was living in Washington, D. C., and desperate for a job. I went to work for a company that ran an online news and information service for the energy industry. Nothing particularly interesting about this, except it was 1985, before the launch of Windows, AOL, and a little thing I like to call “the World Wide Web.”

If my bosses at Information, Inc., were ahead of their time, they certainly didn’t know how to capitalize on it, and the business soon disappeared. Nonetheless, it was a formative experience for me, and I developed what has been a life-long interest in communications technologies.

When we began preparing for this trip, we knew we wanted to document our travels and make the production of a web site central to our children’s year of “roadschooling.” I had work experience with web-based projects, but always from the content side. Technology was something others did.

As I thought about a blog to document our trip, I wasn’t sure I could build the kind of web site I pictured in my mind’s eye.

Then I found WordPress.

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November 15, 2007   4 Comments

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