Aside

Where are you?!

I don’t think anyone really has social media sussed out yet, but you can probably tell that I’m enjoying being part of the experiment and taking a great interest.  One thing I’ve never understood though is Geolocation services.

From the moment I first heard of Google Latitude I wondered why on Earth I’d want to tell the world where I was.  Surely that was dangerous?  People could a) find me (maybe that’s the point?) b) know when I’m not at home and that my place was safe to break into without disturbing me.

No, other than last-night’s bike ride, I’m usually telling people where I’ve been rather than where I’m going or where I am, and I’d recommend others with any kind of public social media footprint to do the same.

Latitude has been followed, seemingly very successfully, by services like foursquare and Gowalla, and today, in the USA at least, Facebook are joing the club with Facebook Places.

Facebook’s had some minor criticism for privacy issues, but I think they’ve actually got it right this time.  It’s an opt-in service; you’re notified when people “tag” you as being in a location; you can delete location tags; and the default is to only show your location tags to your friends.  They’re trying to do something possibly kinda useful, but, privacy wise, it’s a pretty safe starting point.  Read more about how it works in the Guardian, and how to disable it on Lifehacker.

But I still don’t get it, and I’m frustrated that with all the technology we have I still can’t do one really simple geolocation thing that I’d like to do occasionally when trying to meet up with friends in unfamiliar places…I’d like to just be able to send my location from my mobile phone to a specific person so that they can find me.  Can I do that with any of these services?  And if not, who’s going to develop it for me?

What are your thoughts on Geolocation?  Useful?  Dangerous?  Which services do you use and why?

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  • http://www.timandkathy.co.uk/journal/ Tim Beadle

    “And if not, who’s going to develop it for me?”

    These guys already have: http://face2face.ws/

    “What are your thoughts on Geolocation? Useful? Dangerous? Which services do you use and why?”

    Potentially useful if done more like Face2Face, with privacy baked in rather than as an afterthought, but only when non-geeks are using it.

    • MagicRoundabout

      Hey Tim,

      Good to know people are still reading, even if I’m not necessarily writing a whole load.

      I don’t think Face2Face quite meets my use case. From what I can gather their service alerts me to the fact that someone in one of my social networks is near, so that I can hook up with them if I decide I want to? Is that right?

      What I want to do is this…say I’m meeting up with a friend in London. We’ve agreed to meet outside Picadilly Circus tube station, forgetting that it has about 15 exits that spread over about half a mile. I emerge from the tube and call and say “You’re not here”. They say “yeah, I was early so I took a wonder…don’t quite know where I am now”. I say “OK, well, send me your location and I’ll come and find you”

      What I then need to happen is for that person to press some button on their smart phone that sends their GPS co-ordinates to my smart phone, and then my smart phone starts giving me directions.

      Hang on…didn’t think to….aaaaaaah yes.

      Something like this: http://niftybrick.com/heyway.html

  • http://www.mccracken.me.uk Karl McCracken (twitter: @KarlOnSea)

    You’re one ahead of me though. On my third (or is it my fourth?) attempt, I still just don’t get Facebook. Thinking of taking it for a long walk in the woods again this weekend – this time I’ll have a long wooden stake and a hammer with me….

    • MagicRoundabout

      Karl, you hold the honour of being the first person I know that “gets” Twitter without “getting” Facebook! :-)

      Think of Facebook as a closed version of Twitter where only people you approve can communicate with/about you, and you can only communicate with/about other people if they approve you.

      It also works quite well as a closed email system.

      Beyond that, there’s loads of apps and fan pages and groups and pictures and more apps and Farmville (AAARGH!) and many other crazy ways for:
      – Facebook to make the system far more complicated than it need be;
      – your friends to clutter up your timeline with; and
      – Facebook to share with their advertisers and the world.