Thursday, July 20, 2006

The SoundSeeing World of Audio Travel

The SoundSeeing World of Audio Travel

A soundseeing tour is an audio recording of the sounds of a place. There is typically no narrative voice, so it helps to have a website that tells you what the file is about (or to have the file properly coded to show this in the file information). Soundseeing tours are a fairly popular form of podcast, though they usually supplement more traditional podcasts. At least that is the way I have used them in my Geography for Travelers podcast (listen, for example, to my Hawaii episode).

Below are the two best sources for soundseeing tours that I have found. If you know of others, please send me the links (

"SoundTransit is a collaborative, online community dedicated to field recording and phonography."

This is a database of soundseeing tours from around the world. gives you two ways of listening to soundseeing .mp3 files. The first is to search by country and place, which results in a listing and description of contributed sound files.

The second version is more of a random file generator, although that is not very obvious from the description. What it does is it allows you to "Book a Transit" by identifying a start and end place, and indicate 1 to 5 stopovers. The site then generates several sample itineraries of sound files that one might encounter by following this transit. It also creates a map showing the transit route and the locations of the soundseeing files. However, the transits actually make no logical sense. I entered Montreal and Cuauhtemoc, Mexico, and the itinerary included Portland (Oregon), Yamaguchi (Japan), and New Plymouth (New Zealand). The site design is very Web 2.0/Ajaxy, so I am guessing that this randomness is intentional. is a collaraborative website, and those who wish to post their sound files to the site submit it to the site owners by email with a description. As of this writing, some 225 different people had submitted sound files and were listed in the Artists section. There is no RSS feed, though there are plans to start one in the future.

Soundseeing Podcasts
from the

"This podcast is here to aggregate the best of soundseeing podcasts. There are so many great ones and their need to be a central place for finding these gems. Anyone can submit his or her podcast for addition to the feed."

This is more of an open source site for podcasters who play around with soundseeing tours from time to time. They can submit their soundseeing podcast episode here, and anyone who subscribes to the's RSS feed will get it. The result is an incredible diversity of sounds. It looks like there were 42 postings when I checked the site. It also appears to be a way for podcasts to broaden their name exposure, which means that these are experienced podcasters who are posting these audio files. As mentioned above, just hope that the file is properly coded so you can find out just what you are listening to, without having to always check back on the website.

UPDATES (17Aug07)
1- is a new US-based website for soundscenes.
2- I recently posted a soundseeing tour of Danxiashan in China

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

GeoBirds - Your Online Birding Community!

GeoBirds - Your Online Birding Community!

Birding? Tourism? You bet!

Ecotourism is one of the fastest growing niche tourism segments in the world. And Birding is the fastest growing segment of the ecotourism market. Personally, I am not a birder, though I did find that watching the Fairy Penguins return from the sea after sunset on Phillip Island (Melbourne, Australia) last month was absolutely thrilling! (see my travel blog here) is a website for:
(1) Identifying birds - I often wonder about the birds in my backyard; there is also a bird identification game
(2) Sharing sitings of rare birds - This is more for the pro-bird watcher, and includes links to birding clubs!
(3) Learning about birds - an online field guide and news about birds around the world

And so, ummm, how is this Web 2.0? is a social sharing site and birding is a longtail niche travel market, so I think it fits the definition.

Hmmm, maybe I will try a little birding on my next nature-based vacation. . . .

Sunday, July 09, 2006

VCarious Travel adds Google Maps-based Photo and Journal Searching

Explore the World | VCarious Travel

The travel blog and social software website,, has recently added the ability to scan over a Google Map to find photos, journals (travel blogs/diaries), and wiki guides for different parts of the world.

The feature is still in beta, but seems to work well (other than being a bit overloaded on their server when they first put the feature up a few days ago). You can zoom in on the map to filter out photos and journals for geographic areas you are not interested in. And you can filter the photos by set category tags, such as Oceans, Landscapes, Cities, Wildlife and Travelers, or by typing locations or photo titles.

The photos are not very large, however, probably due to the fact the Vicarious allows unlimited uploads and its upload tool allows you to pull entire folders off your computer and from a account. It is possible to get to a larger version of each photo, but is takes several clicks and is not intuitive. (By comparison, has nice, big photos readily viewable on its travel blogs.) And, of course, for the photos to show up on the map Explore page, the photos need to be tagged to a location. Vicarious allows you to locate all the photos uploaded as a batch in one simple step, and allows you to title each photo at the time of upload in a very quick and easy way.

The wiki guides allow similar filtering and searches, while the journals can be searched by "concepts" only, which I assume are words that appear in the journals. As a relatively new website, Vicarious does not have the entire world covered, and only has about 350 members listed on its site. I must say, though, that Vicarious has gone through an entire facelift since the first time I visited the site a couple of months ago. They have also addes a route-tracing map tool (connecting the destinations on trip with a line), which I had not seen before (though it is not as flexible as a similar tool on MyLifeOfTravel, which allows several locations to be placed in each blog entry).

The new map searching capability on is really nice and is an attractive tool for those of us who take LOTS of photos on their travels that they want to share. Check it out by clicking on the blog title above.

Tags: ,,,,,,,,

Friday, July 07, 2006

Wifi Free - free wifi hotspots worldwide

WiFi Free

You pretty much have to be online to access Web 2.0. For me, this has become the single biggest hassle of traveling! After my recent trip (to Australia, blogged here), I have sworn to only use hotels that can provide high speed Internet access, preferably wireless.

And of course, wouldn't it be great if it were free, as well?

Well, lists airports, hotels, campgroungs, vacation rentals, coffee shops, bookstores, and other places that offer free wifi access. This site is likely to become a must-use resource for my future travel planning. It is part of, but I found it much easier to use than JiWire's hotspot finder, which focuses more on paid hotspots. (JiWire does have an interesting wifi newsletter that I susbcribe to.)

BTW - You should really install a personal firewall when using public wireless access points, and even hotel ethernet wired access points. I use the free Comodo Personal Firewall, which is discussed on the Leading Edge Technology podcast. I only turn it on when I am traveling.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Other Web 2.0 Related Travel Blogs

Of course, why should I think that I am the only one out there blogging about online innovations in travel and tourism? Here are a two more that I just learned about and which cross many of the same boundaries that I do, though each in our own way. Check these out:

Les Explorers - by Claude Benard
<> covers a wide range of travel and tourism, and while I do not know any French, I still find it of considerable interest

Hotel Blog - by Guillaume Thevenot
<> had a focus on the hotel and hospitality industry, though not exclusively so

Let me know if there are any other worthy blogs out there, and I will add them to this blog entry.