Mashable has been singing the praises of location-based apps spinning their case toward bottom-line hungry small business owners. Benefits like the ability to draw customers to your location and to create incentives that build a loyal following are being highlighted in the discussion as ways of helping entrepreneurs see the potentials of geolocation technology. I apologize if I’m pointing to the obvious, but my question is, ‘Have you lost your minds’?
Have we suddenly gotten over our hang-up of Big Brother watching us? You’re quite intent on keeping your browsing history private when you don’t want anyone knowing where you’re clicking. The notion of someone tracking your physical location bothers you less than someone knowing where you click? I understand how cell phone companies can justify providing services allowing account holders to ‘see’ where each one of their additional phones are at any given time as a way of enhancing parental controls, but are we sure we want to go down this road?
Loopt has been around for a while, so the concept of suping up our trendy, high-tech phones with the ability to tell us when we’re a few blocks away from our ex in an effort to avoid acting like a mature adult is no new thing. However, when the location-based technology market starts to bloom in all its invasive glory, one has to wonder where the demand is coming from for these developers to see enough lucrative opportunities to want to get in the game. Have you not reached the point yet where information overload is almost unmanageable and it’s come time to prune your way back to human interaction? Do you really want the general public to know where you are all the time? Evidently you do, because even Facebook is on board.
Are you happy now? Your dream of being able to notify everyone in your network of where you are has finally come true. Your ‘network’ – that group of people you haven’t spoken to since you shared glue sticks in grade school but who you’ve perhaps nonetheless poked once or twice, or maybe, if you were feeling particularly generous, you may have even thrown a sheep his or her way.
You can even tag people who are with you!
Hold on, let me get this straight. Even when I’m having an actual face-to-face conversation with someone, you want me to pull out my ‘smart’ phone and make sure that my status and location are updated? Why? So as not to inconvenience all of my devoted followers? Come on! Aren’t we making the paparazzi’s lives a little too easy?
And what about the soon-to-be massive lists of external entities grabbing hold of your information (which may now also include satellite images of your backyard, what time you checked in at your gynecologist’s office and how cruel gravity was to you at your last Weight Watchers weigh-in)?
For right now, though, only a few apps have been selected to push information back into Places. Initially, Gowalla, Foursquare, Booyah (creators of MyTown and Nightclub City) and Yelp will integrate with Facebook Places. ~Source
From an educational perspective, there may be some ways to take advantage of this type of technology. For a multi-location based approach to teaching, such as the one adopted by THINK Global School, I suppose it might be interesting for parents, teachers and chaperons to know where students are throughout their years of studying abroad. I guess you could also try to make the case that it would be a good way for students to figure out how to read maps and learn some geography by getting used to seeing where all of their fellow classmates are munching their sandies and learning their Mandarin on any given day. But the question shouldn’t really be, ‘Can we think up a way to use this technology?’, should it?
Ok, granted when an application of a technology is so novel that it necessitates a change in the way to communication/operate/connect, etc., then perhaps we do have to approach a review of its potential benefits from a slightly crazed ‘inventor’ mind-set in which we think outside of the outer perimeters of the outside of the conventional box.
I suppose you could always design a business marketing class assignment around geolocation technologies asking students to develop creative ways of generating sales in specific industries by using any one of the smart phone apps out there. Some ideas that come to mind are thinking of how the restaurant industry can benefit, or perhaps the travel sector, and questioning the relationship between location-based technologies and the ever-present community rating models like Yelp and Tripadvisor, and more recently Hunch.com. Then again, that might be construed as condoning this type of technology, and to be honest, it comforts me to convince myself that it’s only a fad.
I guess if we look at the bright side, at least playing this type of ‘video’ game gets you out of the house.