« Anne Galloway | Main | Anne Galloway »

January 27, 2006

NYT on Location-Based Services


Making Connections, Here and Now

The NYT features a smart article about location-based services (By ETHAN TODRAS-WHITEHILL). Well-known projects like Dodgeball, Yellow Arrow, Social Light, Rabble, Street Hive or Rave Wireles are presented.

Mostly, those systems allow proximity-based interaction (ping registered participants when participants/friends are in the vicinity) or location-based annotations/blogging (i.e virtual post-its)… allowing the so-called “geospatial Web, the Internet overlaid on the real world”. Food for thought certainly for the current vocabulary disambiguation!

The article raises the issue of location-awareness, be it passive or active as they call it:

What the industry calls passive location awareness on the part of cellphones is critical to growth in mobile social software. It simply means that a phone knows where it is because it is equipped with technology like a Global Positioning System. Most current location-based services do not automatically keep track of where you are; you need to tell them by sending a text message. Passive awareness in your cellphone, by contrast, lets sites like Socialight or Dodgeball keep track of where you are all the time and send you relevant information posted by others.

But getting passive awareness on your phone is not easy.
cellphone users are suspicious of passive location awareness because they do not want to get unsolicited location-based text messages, or geospam, from advertisers as they pass stores.

Besides, the conclusion is very interesting:

As for other mobile social programs, a press officer for Verizon Wireless suggested that in the future the company might let its customers use such services through an off-network, “trusted content provider” model.

And geospam? It may actually materialize, and even the developers of mobile software are not thrilled by the idea.

“The billboards are already there,” said Mr. Allen of Yellow Arrow. “I don’t need a message in my pocket to tell me McDonald’s is around the corner.”

So true…[blogged by nicolas on pasta and vinegar]

Posted by jo at January 27, 2006 02:49 PM