Touristic information, which is often presented and received as a baseline definitive, is no more or less true than everyday information. Touristic information is manufactured; everyday information is lived. Either way: these are not objective measures. If information is what we need to form a guide to a place, it’s the guiding principle of information itself — not the quality or type of information — that provides a sense of security. Whether you get your information from the guidebook or the neighbor, it’s always useful. The question is: can its use be replicated in your own experience?
How many people, while traveling, express the urge to “see how real people live?” The popularity of services like Air BnB, or even more to the point, Couchsurfing, really points to this desire. We want to go to a place and feel like we’re really there. That means everyday boredom, everyday annoyance, and the other occurrences that give us a feeling of belonging rather than a feeling of special. Special is for resort vacations: the proverbial umbrella drinks on the beach. Urban vacations are usually posited as useful “for culture,” but I think what that means is not just museums, but a quality of participation rather than relaxation. Really being in a place means passing for normal: no big cameras, no backpacks, no maps. How can we attain the qualities of a place’s truth for ourselves, even if we are not of the place?
Of course I basically think this is impossible. But attempting to answer impossible questions can often lead to interesting results.
Sidebar: here’s one interesting project that I’ve discovered recently. It’s along some lines of the type of information that I’m interested in, but a skew from what I’d like to create.