So­cial Airs

From data-driven pro­fil­ing to in­tel­li­gent seat­ing, so­cial me­dia is let­ting trav­el­ers make a dif­fer­ent kind of con­nec­tion

Business Traveler (USA) - - CONTENTS - By Jenny Southan and Dan Booth

Un­til re­cently, serendip­ity has determined many of the per­sonal con­nec­tions we make in our lives, es­pe­cially on the road. But with the evo­lu­tion of so­cial me­dia, which is now in­te­grat­ing some of the tech­niques em­ployed by on­line dat­ing plat­forms, fly­ing on busi­ness is about to be trans­formed.

There are now sites that use al­go­rithms to match you with a seat­ing part­ner on a plane, find some­one to have din­ner with in a for­eign city or share a taxi with to your ho­tel from the air­port.

Us­ing the In­ter­net to en­gage with like-minded peo­ple is not es­pe­cially new, with fre­quent trav­el­ers shar­ing opin­ions, tips and trip plans on fo­rums, re­view sites and their own blogs. For a lot of trav­el­ers, though, the thought of some tech­no­log­i­cally-pre­des­tined en­counter with a stranger can still be a lit­tle creepy.

Nonethe­less, Ben Ham­mer­s­ley, In­ter­net tech­nol­o­gist and edi­tor-at-large of Wired ired UK mag­a­zine, thinks it is time we stopped pped try­ing to sep­a­rate our­selves from our vir­tual lives and, in­stead, em­brace the op­por­tu­ni­ties that the web can give us.“We have to get over the idea that re­la­tion­ships are some­how su­pe­rior when you can lean over the ta­ble and poke that per­son in the eye,”he says.“It doesn’t mat­ter that they are not phys­i­cal. Even the ma­jor­ity of‘ re­al­life’ re­la­tion­ships are me­di­ated through tech­nol­ogy.”

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