Monday, May 11, 2009

location [un]aware.

there's been quite a bit of off-and-on press about "location" aware services, like Loopt, Google Latitude, and such, and their implications as a "social compass." still in the midst of my "social media blackout," i pondered here for a bit this morning (when my best thinking happens).

quick FYIs for the non-geek readers (hi mom!*):
Loopt is a mobile phone app that allows you to see where all your other friends are (on their mobile phones via GPS/cell-tower triangulation), assuming they're "in" your Loopt network - an invitation/opt-in service.

Google Latitude is a similar service, but revolves around your "Google account" -
gMail, iGoogle, gChat/gTalk, etc. such that when you're logged in (most likely via your PC), it pulls down where you are (based on IP), or via GPS/cell-tower triangulation if you're on your mobile

naturally, there's been the reactionary response to the privacy implications of all this...the potential room for abuse, etc. and then of course, to the contrary, there's been the "early adopter/technologist" lean in, see the possibilities (standing on street corner bored, randomly seeing which of your friends are in the area for the opportunistic meet-up)

which wins?

well the services ARE here, and adoption IS increasing, as consumers become more and more OK with sharing/knowing what everyone is doing in semi-realtime. Facebook and Twitter have already made us more conducive/willing to think about such once-outrageous notions of being "always on" (something which a respectable # of technologists/early adopters, myself included...question the validity of). but these geo-social services are never going to really show their usefulness until their scale within your social sphere.

maybe the compromise is not being always on, but choosing WHEN to be on. when you're on your PC, the default should be to broadcast your location, bc you're probably already "on" (your chat/skype is likely already up, etc). and while your mobile phone is also always on (and it's increasingly becoming a tiny computer), but i respectfully agree that the default switch should be "off." this defeats the frequent meetup opportunity, but still lets you somewhat passively choose to declare where you are.

not the most profound post, i know. especially seeing as how this is pretty much already the state of the world, i'm either (1) right, or (2) just using a long post to expound on what is already going on.

oh well, it's what i was thinking about this morning. deal with it. i still live here, and you are still there.

*(who perhaps these services are most valuable to. so she always knows where/what i'm up to =)

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