I first learned of the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s (HTA) sponsoring of a group of eight mainland internet entrepreneurs, dubbed: So Much More Hawaii through local media impresario Damon Tucker’s blog. (Damon really wants to down some Mai Tais with these folks. “Hey everyone! I’ll twitter for the next round! Oops! my dang cell phone is stuck!”)
Apparently, the idea is for these folks to tour the islands whilst blogging away in their respective “vertical niche markets” : convention biz, blog talk-radio, travel; both family and solo, food, and so on.
Sounds like a great gig to me.
All kidding aside, the HTA sponsoring of these savvy social media marketers, to have a good time and broaden their bloggees’ online understanding of the “real Hawaii”, could be viewed in various ways. And yes, the Hawaii Tourism Authority is in the business of generating tax revenue and tourism money.
Well, that’s part of their objective anyway. The other goals of the HTA are what you might call of a social, cultural, and environmental nature.
What compels me to write about this is that, while money changing hands is obviously essential to our state’s economy, other aspects of community wellness are not necessarily pegged to money. Indeed, sustainable practice, acknowledged by all as essential to a sustainable Hawaiian society, requires significant non-monetized values: ethics that uphold and utilize appropriate technologies and sustainable energy input/output levels, among others.
Unfortunately, internet technology marketing tends to lack any discernment regarding appropriate uses. A fundamental and shared characteristic of internet marketers and their client sponsors is that not one of ’em has any incentive to blog, or tweet, or suggest, in any way, that community members may benefit from turning their digital content off — and empower their community to be more self-reliant. This perspective is simply less profitable to the social media technology industry. Indeed, it would delegitimize their influence.
Many potential tourists likewise cherish these same use-values. (If they just wanted to be entertained by over-the-top displays of dolphins doing amazing trapeze feats, get trashed on Mai Tais, and then play the slots all night, well, they got ‘Vegas, right?)
A viable alternative tourism scenario hinges on authentic community participation, within itself and with visitors. This alternate plan calls for organization and communication among communities and people. Integrity resulting from sustainable practices done in convivial ways also relys on unfettered access to communication technologies (i.e. net neutrality). Also, this paradigm values the public good. It doesn’t do away with voter-mandated public land and open spaces initiatives.
No offense to these bright and enterprising internet marketing specialists, but I’m not sure where they fit in to all this.
Among their “sponsored conversations” as one of them puts it, will they be discussing:
“How does pono (righteous) media play a part in healthy communities?” Or, “What exactly is the purpose of pono media’s content? Is it to sustain Hawaii’s natural, physical, cultural, and human resources? If so, please indicate how.
As for malama aina and the rest, I’d think that such a discussion would also pose questions such as, “How do we as a community learn and organize to sustain ourselves, such that Hawaii will attract visitors as a paragon of self-reliant communities working, sharing, and using their unique and diverse competencies?”
And if this comes off as a tad ranty, it is really more of an attempt to advocate the non-sponsored (i.e. less promoted) side of community-oriented media.
Nonetheless, I do welcome our more market-savvy visitors and look forward to spocking their online interpretations of Hawai’i.