Last week I blogged about how cool it would be to use Location based
Services (LBS) to get advertisements from the local cell site I was
entering. Well, I was sitting in my office (40.843801,-74.462846)
when I received an email from a co-worker wanting to know if I wished
to do an experiment with him using Google's new LBS latitude service:
I checked it out and gave it some serious thought before thinking
that this seemed kind of creepy. I thought: 'that's all I need is
people spying on my whereabouts all day.'
While I think this could be interesting for parents tracking kids, or people playing the Street Wars Assassination game, I didn't see what purpose it had in real life.....
Then he sent me this fascinating article written by Mathew Honan: http://www.wired.com/gadgets/wireless/magazine/17-02/lp_guineapig
Despite how cool I think LBS services could be, I am simultaneously
unnerved and intrigued by the potential of personal mobile LBS. How
Nothing I've seen really does this today, but it seems to me a question of giving other people the appropriate level of resolution. I don't mind giving exact location information to my family. When I visit London (which I would perhaps do once a month) I would willingly reveal my location to a range of friends to improve chances of a spontaneous meeting, and make it easier to locate each other.
However, if I had a following like Mathew Honan, I would perhaps want to offer less resolution to my followers. Not only for reasons of security, but also just for appropriateness: what possible benefit could a strange get from knowing that I am on the M25 motorway between junction 10 and 11?
I think appropriate levels of information is the key. Brian, you and I rarely meet in person, so location information might be a key to allow us to coincide more (assuming we both agreed this was a benefit!). So for example, if you and I are in different countries, then probably as much information as I need is "Brian is the the USA". Possibly timezone, in case I wanted to call without waking you at a strange time. If you were in the UK, it would help me to know which town you were in. For example, if you were on a flying visit to Fordingbridge, then my commitment would need to be high indeed to make me drive there (2-3 hours) on the off-chance of a meeting; however if you were in Maidenhead or London, then chances of a meeting are greatly improved. The resolution of "Fordingbridge" is good enough for my needs: I don't need to know if you are in the office or feeding the ducks.
On Latitude: It seems odd to me that the Google story seems to have penetrated the mainstream media in the way that no other location story so far has. Latitude is a nice toy, and I have it on my Nokia phone with half a dozen other location tools that offer similar functionality. Unfortunately, like all of the other location tools, it's better left switched off unless you always carry a spare battery...