I always liked the idea of a drastically expanded version of Lonely Planet — renamed Lonely Planets, of course — consisting of various drifters, small-time traders, corporate nomads, mercenaries, specialists of various unusual skills, musicians, religious pilgrims, ultra-backpackers, renegade researchers, and other loosely affiliated interstellar flotsam giving each other info, tips, and warnings.
Not like today’s Lonely Planet guides – aimed at the middle classes, as “that’s where the money is”, but more like the older Africa on a Shoestring book, with advice on how to fake IDs.
All this information, anecdotes, and other stuff needs to be collected together, and someone has to verify the info. Different reporting member get different reliability ratings, and the value of the reports vary.
There’s an endless stream of up-to-date reports from Capital, and a decent amount from Kusyu (some even less than 18 months old!), but the info from Lair is… sporadic, at best. Any idea on what we can do about that?
I can see various small contracts for good reports from important-but-rarely-visited worlds, and even a small per diem payout for any world whose information is more than five years old. The money isn’t really enough to make a Traveller go out of his way to visit a world, but it is enough extra cash to be worth his while to file a report if he happens to stop by.
Different payouts for different kinds of data: good audiovideo is better than simple typed text. The focus is more on helping independent civilian Travellers avoid the major pitfalls of a particular world while getting business done, and also at least see/taste the highlights of a world.
Military-oriented (Imperial and Mercenary) and Corporate-oriented Travellers will likely build their own networks and grapevines. Nobles almost always have at least a regional (within three parsecs) network, and the higher the Noble, the more sprawling and high-powered the network.
Some of the more notable interstellar tribes, from the Vilani to the Muslim Brotherhood, have their own interstellar information grids in their own languages, geared to their own customs and religions. The ABB – the huge Vilani research network – and even the Traveller’s Aid Society should have their own networks as well.
Being able to tap into multiple information networks and grids is a valuable skill. Sure, there are various subterfuges you can pull to get into the less-secure networks (listed in the Lonely Planets books/apps/expert programs by tech level, no doubt), but it’s even better if you can legitimately log in. That way, you can ask for more details, interact with the more important and knowledgeable commentators, and get even more information than what’s officially listed.
Finally… even the staid, middle-class travel guides are of use. As planetary governments encourage high-spending visitors as a rule, these books/data sets/etc. are generally up-to-date and accurate, at least for the casual tourist. They also skew to rosy, cheerful views of the world in question, so if you want to go off the beaten path, you’ll have to dig deeper, and read between the lines.