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Future of the Web: Location, Location, Location July 1, 2009

Posted by pannet in Internet & Communities, Mobile & Gadgets.
Tags: , , , ,

[…] Location-based applications are quickly becoming the hot new thing on phones. Since many mobiles today — most particularly the iPhone — can determine their location via GPS chips or pinging local cell towers and WiFi signals, they’re spawning a whole new ecosystem of apps. There are social ones like Loopt or foursquare, which track the movement of friends as well as find-stuff tools like Yelp that locate top-rated bars and restaurants near you. According to web-research firm Compete, one in three mobile-phone owners uses location-based tools, and the number of apps has exploded from 500 to 2,500 since last October. […]

What’s the next? It’s probably ”tagging:” Writing up notes, implanted in space, that describe something interesting about a particular location. Some apps already offer crude versions of this: With Socialight or Brightkite or Graffito, people can pick a spot on the map — using their phone or browser — and post a note that others will see when they’re nearby.[…]

All those tracks of our lives form an enormously rich stream of information. So most geo-app pioneers are developing collaborative-filtering tools that find patterns in the data; for example, recommending other people you might want to “friend” because they have similar everyday behavior — going to the same cafes and schools and bars (at the same time of day) and talking about the same topics in their tags. (And, of course, alerting advertisers if you’re the type of person who drinks a lot of coffee, as evidenced by your daily route.) Altman calls this the “life graph” — the lattice of invisible geodata you produce every day as your phone leaves trails through the digital ether.

Geo-apps face one big technological hurdle, though: Most phones do not allow an app to constantly check its location — every minute, say — in part because that constant pinging would drain the mobile’s battery. They thus require you to pull out your phone and look at it, and many people find this onerous (or simply forget to do it regularly). […]

Granted, the privacy aspects of geodata are hair-raising. Many of these new apps intend to monetize their service by helping advertisers target you based on where you go — using your “life graph”, as it were, to sell you things. […]

Ted Morgan, the CEO of Skyhook — a company that maps out WiFi signals worldwide, to help phones pinpoint their location — thinks the way geotagging really changes life is by becoming part of everything: All Tweets, all Facebook entries, all MySpace posts, all news items become automatically marked up with geographic data. What will that do? He’s not sure. But then again, nobody predicted social networking, either. […]

via : Future of the Web: Location, Location, Location



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