Location-based services, or “urban social networking games” such as foursquare and Gowalla, are the new shiny thing these days. With Yelp jumping into the fray, there’s even more hype coming.
I’ve been playing around with foursquare myself to gain experience in how it works so that I can understand any opportunities for its use in my work. I’m always leery of anyone who suggests clients use something they have never used themselves.
I’ve tried previous location checkin apps like Brightkite, too, but the game element these new ones add is keeping me more interested in actually using them. I’m not writing this post to discuss the apps themselves in detail, though (Simon Salt at IncSlingers has a good series of posts on foursquare that gives you more of that).
No, instead I wanted to look at the unintended consequences of communicating your location online. Like Jennifer Van Grove of Mashable, I anticipate that the rush to use these apps will bring stories of location-sharing gone wrong described as cautionary tales for those who live their lives too openly.
Before all those tales of how someone’s privacy/security/safety was compromised via location-based services, I thought I’d get in the way-back machine to share a post orignally published on Direct2Dell that shows how good things can happen when you openly discuss your whereabouts online.
Let me take you back to January 2008, a time when people were first worrying that sharing too much online via Twitter would lead to stalkings and other heinous tales the media will love to tell… Please step into the time machine…
Image by Jason Eppink via Creative Commons
Real Life and Second Life Come Together Via the Twitterverse
15 January 2008, 07:23 AM
While the flurry of activity that is the Consumer Electronics Show has passed, there are still some great stories to come out of it. I was there for two entire hours myself, thanks to a “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” type of experience getting to Vegas. Although, instead of an obnoxious guy hanging with me, I had my Twitter friends.The point of my visit was to set up a mixed reality event between Second Life and Real Life to launch our new Crystal monitor. Crystal is a product for the creative, style-conscious person and SL residents are builders, designers and style mavens; so, where better to take this experience?
I turned again to the great team at Involve to bring Crystal into virtual reality, and they’ve created a true functioning SL version that is available for one more week at Dell Island. As Aleister Kronos noted, it has the “nice touch” of being able to set the texture for the screen.
Well, weather and other unfortunate issues conspired to keep me stuck in the Phoenix airport during the time I was supposed to be setting up the computers and streaming video from the Dell Lounge booth at CES. I was twittering about my frustrations (you could find it all archived on http://www.twitter.com/lpt there) when a fellow metaverse evangelist, Peter Haik at Metaversatility saw my distress. He was at CES and asked if there was anything he could do to help. Well, to make the long story a little shorter, he dropped by the Dell booth and ensured that everything was ready to go, so that I was able to simply slide in at the last minute and unveil the virtual Crystal. Thanks very much, Peter!
Yes, I did finally make it to Vegas (as seen in this photo), and as Dan Zehr of the Austin American-Statesman noted once the people in Vegas got to mingle with the people in Second Life, things got really interesting.
I had the opportunity to meet Paul Jackson of Forrester in RL, and we continued discussions we have had previously via the phone about the viability of Second Life and the future opportunity of virtual worlds. He’s recently published a new report titled “Getting Real Work Done In Virtual Worlds.” I highly recommend it as a good read for anyone interested in this arena.
After CES closed for the evening, Peter (who had stayed to assist throughout the event) and I watched my LSU Tigers win the BCS national championship (couldn’t help but brag) and chatted about exciting things happening in other areas of virtual world development such as Metaplace and Multiverse.
All-in-all, I left CES inspired by the “village” of Twitter as a support system and jazzed about the continued opportunities in virtual worlds. As Gartner predicts, by 2011, 80% of people will have a “second life” even if it’s not in Second Life…
Do you have a tale to share about good things that happened when you shared your location online? Please add it to the comments!