Hacker Tourism

Inspired by Neal Stephenson's excellent article in Wired Magazine Mother Earth Mother Board, this section attempts to gather information on the activity known as hacker tourism.

From: Bill Higgins (higgins@fnald.fnal.gov)
Subject: Hacker Tourism (was Re: Neal Stephenson was there (was Re: Demise...))
Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.fandom
Date: 1996/12/03

In article <581erv$hvr@dfw-ixnews6.ix.netcom.com>, trike@ix.netcom.com(Douglas Tricarico) writes:
> In 
> I wasn't as captivated by that article as you getlemen seem to be.  It
> was rather too long and unfocused, and as Stephenson himself points out
> (several times!), he isn't a journalist but a "hacker tourist."  The
> historical stuff was by far the most interesting bits of the article
> and I found myself skimming by the time I was halfway through.

De gustibus.  Stephenson has discovered, and has coined a name for, a
pleasurable activity that many of us have been engaging in for a long
time.  His definition of Hacker Tourism:

    "Our method was not exactly journalism nor tourism in the normal
    sense but what might be thought of as a new field of human
    endeavor called hacker tourism: travel to exotic locations in
    search of sights and sensations that only would be of interest to
    a geek." 

This is something I frequently do with my vacation time.  Sure,
visiting an accelerator lab such as CERN or SLAC might count merely as
a "Busman's Holiday" for me, but I've also visited NASA centers,
Lucasfilm, the Soo Locks, the Ackermansion, rocket factories, the
parking lot in Wheaton where Grote Reber built the world's second
radio telescope, and Henry Spencer's office.

So I recognized a kindred spirit in Stephenson's somewhat unfocused
account of his techie meanderings, and enjoyed reading it very much.

I don't think big museums count, as the Air Force Museum or the
Computer Museum are visited by lots of people, and hold interest to
more than just geeks.  Tiny, very specialized museums might count.

With the shoe on the other foot, I guess I've given my share of
Fermilab tours to visiting techies, too...

Also, though Stephenson seems to think hacker tourism is new, I can
prove that Charles Babbage engaged in the same activity in the 1820s
(and I've dropped a note to the editors of *Wired* to point this out).

"We don't want to rule the world,    | Bill Higgins
    we just want to                  | Fermilab
  make it more... interesting."      | Internet: higgins@fnal.fnal.gov
  --Chris Tucker on techies          | Bitnet:   Sic transit gloria mundi
Suggestions culled from the kuro5hin discussion:

Suggestions culled from the Slashdot discussion (Seeking Interesting Sites When Travelling the World?):

Culled from google:

My list of interesting things to see in New Mexico. Having taken that trip, I strongly recommend going to Carlsbad Caverns National Park (in my opinion, better than any of the Los Alamos/atomic bomb stuff, though I didn't go to the Trinity Site) and Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe. Also neat was driving through White Sands Missile Range and seeing the Very Large Array in Socorro. If you go to Los Alamos, I suggest hitting Bandelier National Monument, near Los Alamos National Lab, which has cliff dwellings (some of which you can climb up into), built by the mysterious Anasazi who also left behind tons of petroglyphs.

My list of other places to go, things to do - not necessarily as a hacker tourist

  1. Cavern tours (California) - the extended tours in California Cavern and Black Chasm sound really cool, and I have even heard that the California Cavern tour is definitely worth the expense
  2. The May Natural History Museum (Colorado Springs, CO) - There are Colombian Beetles so large that they can break street lights and knock a man down if they hit him while flying. Among the hundreds of unusual creatures, one is the locust with colors that rival the rainbow; another, the moths that rob beehives and creatures that build log houses around themselves.
  3. Apalachicola, FL (map) - Gorrie Ice Museum - inventor of the air conditioner - open MThFSS
  4. Carabelle, FL (map) - World's Smallest Police Station - Where: On U.S. 98 in Carrabelle, Florida. Look for the blue phone booth on the north side of the road.
  5. Orlando, FL - Keys to the Kingdom - Behind-the-scenes tour of the Magic Kingdom - review 1, review 2
  6. Ona, FL (map) - Solomon Castle - guide tour of weird artist/sculptor's home - closed in summer and other days. Roadside America's feature is actually way better than the attraction's own web site.
  7. Wakulla Springs, FL (map) - Wakulla Springs State Park
  8. Fernandina Beach, FL [north east corner of Florida] Fort Clinch State Park - partial fort, Civil War era reenactors - see how a cannon works - one weekend per month - schedule
  9. Agoraphone(MIT)
  10. Nikola Tesla Museum (Belgrade, Serbia)

Places that I have already been that I found really intriguing

Estero, Florida (mapped) Koreshan Unity - An early 20th century cult formed around a Dr. Cyrus Teed who believed (among other things) that human beings live on the inside of a hollow Earth. This site has a decent tour to introduce you to the ideas and history, lots of the original buildings, and exotic plants that the Koreshans were fond of. A thorough page on the history of the Koreshan site
Another good Koreshan page - a more scholarly approach to the subject
A news article - makes the case that the Koreshans were not kooks
Official State Historic Site Page
St. Augustine, Florida Castillo de San Marcos - The coolest fort that I have ever visited, conveniently located in the city of St. Augustine National Park Service Official Page