The Good Side of Sharing Your Location Online

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…
 Time Machine User Guide
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 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!


Twitter Can Haz Zombie Stringers?

The other night I glance up from my laptop to view the heartbreaking images Nightline was showing of the devestation in Haiti and the photo credits began to catch my attention.

There amongst credits for the New York Times and other mainstream news organizations was Twitter.  Not, the individual who tweeted the photos, but just Twitter. And it led me to muse (on Twitter) about whether Twitter is now a news organization and we’re all its stringers.

Not the paid sort of stringers that freelance their writing, photography or video skills and get paid individually for each piece that a news organization decides to purchase. No, we are all a vast team of unpaid zombie stringers.
Zombie Stringers
Thank you to Eric Jusino for this photo to use via Creative Commons!

It’s not like paid stringers get any more glory.  When credits are given they go just to AssociatedPress or Reuters or such, rather than the individual who took a photo (writers at least get the byline in most cases).

Stringers can be a great resource for smaller news organizations who want to expand their coverage internationally. But, being a stringer can also be dangerous work for low pay and little glory.

Maybe I was just in that sort of questioning mindframe from reading Simon Dumenco’s AdAge post titled “Be Honest: What’s Your Real Twitter and Facebook ROI?

I’d love to hear more thoughts from some of you out there like Old Media New Tricks. It’s not like Twitter is selling our tweets or anything. Oh, wait. Yes, they are. It would only be a small step for them to start seeking payment from local newspapers and television news shows…

All you zombies hide your Twitpics!

Forty: No Stopping Me Now!

When I was getting ready to turn 30, I thought it would be no big deal. It seemed I’d spent much of my 20s trying to prove myself in the workplace. I thought once I was in my 30s I’d no longer be the young upstart and I’d wouldn’t have to worry about being taken seriously.

I was taken by surprise then, when I actually felt a little sad hitting the milestone.

This year I’m hitting another milestone in age – The Big 4-0. I think I’ve been preparing for it ever since I turned 39. Not with fear or dread, but with an understanding that I might be surprised by how I feel.
No Stopping

I know numbers are just numbers. You’re as young as you feel. Forty is fabulous. Yadda, yadda, yadda. But still, this is a birthday that deserves more than just a nice dinner out to celebrate it. No over-the-hill black balloons for me, please. And, although I didn’t just spend the last ten years of my life doing nothing for me, on this birthday I’m going to take no chances that it might pass by uneventfully.

So, I reached out to some of my old college girlfriends on Facebook a few months back – three of the four sorority sisters that were in my wedding – and I asked if they’d be up to a trip somewhere. I didn’t know where at that point, but much to my surprise they were all excited and said to count them in on it. (We’ll miss you Maria!)

So next weekend, we’re all meeting up in Miami and taking a two-night cruise to the Bahamas!

Some of these women I don’t think I’ve even seen in person since that wedding nearly 14 years ago. There is much catching up to do. We’ll be traveling from Austin, Houston, Baton Rouge and St. Louis. The St. Louis contingent is particularly looking forward to getting out of the cold. As another one of them put it, they are all “benefiting from my agedness!”

So, I’ve got just a few ground rules for us girls…

  1. No more than 50 percent of the trip can be spent talking about our kids.
  2. No worries about how we look in swimsuits.
  3. Umbrella drinks must be consumed.
  4. Pack the sunscreen so we look just as good at 50.
  5. And finally, let’s don’t wait this long to do this again!

What rules did I forget for an unforgettable trip? Add ’em in the comments. (unless you’re my hubby who wanted me to add no twittering or facebooking, which I don’t think I can promise. <wink>)

Image via Creative Commons taken by David Howard. Thank you David for inspiration for the title of this post! / CC BY 2.0