how to build or buy the best apps for smarter, safer, more adventurous travel

What the heck is a “Phablet”?

You’ve probably never heard of one, and I kind of wish I hadn’t, but a “phablet” is a hybrid between a phone and tablet like the iPad. I don’t think the name is catching on, and I hope it doesn’t, because ubiquitous computing, at its best, does not live in a box with a label, but instead “disappears in to the background of our lives.” Computers really are getting to where Gene Roddenberry of Star Trek fame envisioned they would way back in the 60’s. They open doors, they provide useful information upon verbal request, they even anticipate (heard of the “driverless car”?) and frequently they don’t just live in one box with a name…they are scattered all over the place and work together, like the Borg (You can tell by now I am a “Trekkie”). Our world is exploding with these devices! They are everywhere, networked together, embedded in everything, including (soon) your clothes. I can’t even keep up with it, and I live in this world!

But hark! I bring tidings of good news!

It doesn’t matter.

“Huh?” you say. “Don’t I need to have somebody on my staff with a swiftly rotating propeller on his beanie cap to tell me how to build this thing and then stay on top of it?”

Nope. Not really, and here’s why. Technology will change faster than a backstage actor, but one thing won’t change at all for the next zillion years: human anatomy. Until we humans develop Extra Sensory Perception (Please God, no), we will receive information through our five senses, and for tourism info, primarily through just one ~ our ears. Phablets will come and go, smartphones will get small enough to fit in your molar, but our ears won’t change. A thousand years from now we will still need something vibrating against our ossicles bones to hear Mozart or the Beatles. And your content? Well, if you are thoughtful about how you write your copy, and make a decent recording, both of which I will tell you how to do in the next chapter, then your audio recordings will have a very long shelf life indeed.

The Beatles in France

Take the Eiffel tower. Unless something very drastic happens (God forbid), 100 years from now it will still have been built in 1889 out of 7,300 tonnes of iron and initially spurned by Parisians as “useless and monstrous…a “gigantic black smokestack” and a “hateful column of bolted sheet metal.” That’s good stuff! That is the kind of information you want in your copy if you want your audio to last through many, many technological revolutions.

If you want to be more trendy and refer to some current event in your copy, that’s OK, but just be aware that it will date your copy and quite possibly render it obsolete more quickly. While it’s not that hard to replace audio when things change, consider how often you find stale information on web sites. The owners meant well, but they just couldn’t stay on top of it, and it’s a poor reflection on them when they present us with out-of-date information.

Let us consider an example of audio content that appears to enduring the test of time very nicely: Rubber Soul by the Beatles, home of such classics as Nowhere Man and Michelle. That recording was originally offered on vinyl disc in the 1960’s, but it has been transferred with impunity through a series of technology changes: vinyl to 8-track; 8-track to cassette; cassette to CD; CD to iTunes; and finally, iTunes to streaming. What’s next? Who knows, and really, who cares. The quality of the content has Rubber Soul going strong decades after it was recorded, and I submit it will still be strong for many more decades.

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