Foursquare, Gowalla and the future of geo-location *
By Shane Richmond
Wise Up Journal Editor Note:
The article below is shown in full to show how the complete erosion of privacy has being worded to be something that is the next big thing and inevitable (outside of your control, something you just have to accept). The words have the herd mentality effect, where by if everyone else appears to like / believe something it must be good / true, as such most people reading it unfortunately will not question or think of the detrimental effects geo-location will have on people’s privacy.
In 1917 the Soviet Union was the next big thing, in 1933 the Nazi Party was the next big thing, but it does not mean they were good for people or society, if either of these parties had this kind of technology available at the time, the propaganda used to sell the public on the idea of tracking your friends and vice versa of being something that is normal and social would be similar to the article below.
Sharing your location looks set to be the next big thing in mobile technology.
The mobile phone in your pocket is now about so much more than mere conversation. Email, the web and maps have become basic parts of any new mobile, and those technologies are starting to come together.
Facebook asks “What’s on your mind?” and Twitter wants you to tell it “What’s happening?” but new social networks are focusing on a different question: Where are you? Services such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Rummble allow you to “check in” at bars, restaurants, clubs and even offices and railway stations so that your friends know where you are. You can use services on your mobile phone to find places that have been recommended by your friends, or by strangers.
Now the big players are getting in on the act. Google released a location-based service, Latitude, a while ago and its new social platform, Buzz, can track locations, too, and Twitter has begun to experiment with geolocation features. Meanwhile, according to reports, Facebook will begin allowing its 400 million users to share their location in the next couple of months.
The obsession with knowing where users are is a sign of the importance of the mobile internet, which is growing more quickly than desktop internet usage did thanks to the availability of high-powered mobile phones, 3G coverage and the pull of social networks.
Geolocation is expected to be an important theme of the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, which starts tomorrow. In 2007 it was credited with launching the Twitter boom, and this year Foursquare and Gowalla are expected to be the stars of the show.
Both services offer incentives to drive user activity. If you’re the most frequent visitor to a location in Foursquare then you become its “mayor”. Many places, such as cafés, have begun offering discounts to their mayor. Meanwhile Gowalla has begun adding virtual items, such as iPhone cases, that can be collected and used to enter competitions. However, once the fun of the game element wears off, some users are left with concerns about privacy and worries that they will be targeted with location-specific adverts.
Regardless of the concerns, as the mobile internet continues to grow, so geolocation will grow with it. It’s here to stay – and it knows where you are, too.