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(A helpful report of the RTMark Tourism Advisory, March 15, 2000.)

If you're hankering for adventure but eco-tourism sounds like an oxymoron, perhaps you should get lost in your own backyard.

According to, exploring the service corridors of a local office complex can be a rich and rewarding experience., which is part of the Urban Explorations Web-ring and is listed under "Urban Speleology" at dmoz, google, yahoo, describes itself as "the zine dedicated to going places you're not supposed to go." Among the sample destinations described on its pages: off-limits areas of several hospitals, the corporate offices of Much Music, and Toronto's majestic City Hall. Part cookbook and part guidebook, the photo essays of lead the viewer deep into the sublime, mundane backstage areas of our built environment. is one of many web resources that facilitate transgressive tourism, a form of recreation that is steadily gaining favor, both because it oozes the smug counter-culture ethos that we all love, and because it presents a sassy alternative to the colonial-era power relationships of conventional tourism. The transgressive tourist visits popular destinations like the mall, amusement park, or the e-commerce web-site, but then enters the back door, climbs the fence, or roots around in the system to find out the story behind the facade.

If you want to enjoy this type of recreation but feel too vulnerable to physically enter a foreign territory, consider sending a robot on your behalf. The Bureau of Inverse Technology's "BIT Plane" is a small radio controlled aircraft with an on-board CCD camera and video transmitter. The Bureau has used it to remotely explore restricted low-altitude airspace of corporate compounds in Silicon Valley. You may want that particular aerial view, available on video, or you may prefer to soup up other toys to remotely explore the destination of your choice.

If that's still too much physical movement for your taste, then consider participating in transgressive travel over the net. Since e-commerce has made much of the Web into the virtual correlate of your local mall, perhaps some off-limits exploring may be an appropriate way to liven things up. The networked transgressive tourist can pick up an endless supply of travel tips from hacker magazine 2600, which also serves as a good source for the latest news about hacks and related litigation.

For those travellers who want not only a non-physical, but also a less active role in the process, an expanded definition of tourism could include various forms of assisted listening--for example, tuning in to those frequencies that are normally used for business, government, and personal communications. A visit to any number of scanning resources should give the newbie a good start in the right direction.

Of course, most of these activities require a great deal of care. Sadly, legal systems sometimes treat curiosity-seeking tourists as criminals. Educate yourself about the risks before you go. Curious forays in utility corridors usually just results in a slap on the wrist, but trespassing with high moral intentions will likely get you arrested or jailed (prison addresses for anti-nuke protesters, many of them part of the Catholic Plowshares movement, can be found at Likewise, the Web tourist should not travel without first reading about the case of Kevin Mitnick, who spent five years in prison for what many feel was simple curiosity. And scanners fond of recording their travel experiences should recall Alice and John Martin, the heroic middle-american couple who taped Newt Gingrich speaking on his cell phone and then (oops!) gave the tape to Congressman Jim McDermott, who happened to be on the Ethics Committee investigating Gingrich. The incriminating tape became a major part of Gingrich's subsequent downfall, despite the high giggle factor of the couple's press conference, which was intended to mimimize their chance of being prosecuted for making the illegal recording.

Although there are risks, they may not be greater than the dangers of unusual disease, lost items and mugging that you could expect abroad (or at home). If a trip to the Tropics might require that you strap a steak to your thigh to lure the tsetse fly larvae out of your tender flesh, why not risk a small stint in jail for a higher (or more interesting) cause instead. In many ways, the transgressive tourist experience has advantages over the front-door approach. It is usually free of charge, and unlike forms of travel that seek to exploit pristine natural spaces but are faced with ever-dwindling territory, transgressive tourism has limitless growth potential as development and privatization increase.

Bon voyage!

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