The prominence of mobile devices (particular smart phones) is raising the profile of location-aware programs. When I search on my iPhone, Google wants to know my location so it can provide more relevant search results. Or, when I’m in a city I’m not familiar with, Google Maps has guided me to many a coffee shop (and, more recently, Urban Spoon has assisted with dining options). Applications for smart phones turn treasure hunting – in the form of geocaching into entertaining activities. I’ve been experimenting with various location-aware applications (whoishere, Latitude, etc). At first, it’s a bit disturbing. It’s so easy to connect with people – not exclusively linked to existing social networks. Shared interest and a shared location can serve as a starting point for a conversation.
Twitter will soon offer location-awareness posting:
For example, with accurate, tweet-level location data you could switch from reading the tweets of accounts you follow to reading tweets from anyone in your neighborhood or city—whether you follow them or not. It’s easy to imagine how this might be interesting at an event like a concert or even something more dramatic like an earthquake.
Integrating our search history with our social network and our current location offers some interesting opportunities. And some interesting privacy and security concerns. While we often broadcast only to our network, many people are indiscriminate in the people they “friend” online.