Social Gravity and the Value of Free



[From here]

My mate Johanna wrote this great piece for the New Next in Media magazine about the most recent set of location based services - alliteratively plotting people, places and pictures with pinpoint precision.

Increasingly, when any spatially aware device is part of the flow, geotility is mandatory: making something useful for where you are right then.

Now, the most basic elements of geotility have been mapped - never get lost, never lose your friends, never miss an impromptu party, chart your lifestream through the real world.

OK maybe not that last one, but it's coming - your clickstream needs to be geotagged to optimise it, and soon you'll be seeing your own, specific reality being mined, to give you insight into your own life.

[You know your route to work could be 10 minutes faster?

Or - why not take a different route, a five minute detour means you will bump into an old friend.

Or - the bookstore on your way home has an event on today that matches your Amazon profile, why not pop in?

Or - you seem to spend your whole life going to and from an office, what about a vacation?

Insert brand as relevant. And that's the just the commuter tip of the personal data iceberg.

And yes it is scary. But as Kevin Kelly points out, the cost of personalisation is transparency.]

When you mix SPIME data with other things, you get new combinations - like the Geotwitter app for iPhones called Twinkle, that hooks you into a twitter group produced by proximity.

But, geotility also works in reverse - it's not just about where things are, it's about where I am.

Content is context dependent - in the same way Google tries to understand what you want, rather than what you are searching for, based on what you searched for last and what other people search for and link to.

Google is a context engine - it uses and provides context to illuminate.

Equally, the idea that when I'm mobile, what I really want is the desktop web experience seems flawed.

Sometimes I do, sure, but if I'm walking around rapidly, which my iPhone knows, isn't it more likely I'm looking for something specific?

When you Google the name of a bar or restaurant on your phone, aren't you most likely looking for where it is?

Schmap, which launches in public beta on Friday, is one solution to this. By adding in the Schamp code to your website, it basically gives it an iPhone sniffer, so when your page is hit by someone on the go it offers up the key location details for the lost.

In a way this continues the bitcasting idea - the larger body of content is bitcast and only the bits that are relevant are parsed for the end user.

As Kevin Kelly says, eventually all devices, all things in fact, are going to be hooked up to the same machine, with the web as its OS.

But we will still have lots of different devices, looking at different parts of the machine, for different contexts.