Posted by: hdemott | March 16, 2011

LBS – Location Based Stalking

Brad Feld has a truly frightening post up today

Go read it (and all the comments) here.

It got me thinking about Foursquare and the location based movement that has arisen over the past year – and the debate over privacy most recently espoused by Chris Poole in talks at SXSW.

The question in my mind is this: what is the benefit of location based services as they exist with foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places etc… Is it a shout out to the crowd – a digital “Hey I’m here, anybody else around?” or is it more of a message to friends – “Here I am, come and join me” or is it more of a digital roadmap to your life.

Obviously foursquare and other services have real applicability to retail establishments – allowing for deals as well as loyalty to be measured and rewarded – but as Brad’s post points out – there are downsides (stalking, Facebook has been used to target people who are out of homes etc…)

Also with the new breed of group text systems – GroupMe, Text Free, Tiger Text, etc…. you can send the digital shout out to the people who are going to really matter to you at the time. Yes you may lose some serendipity, but you gain a lot of control and more immediacy, as everyone has their cellphone on – but not everyone is checking in on Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, etc… at all times.

So is privacy the be all and end all? Or should we be living out lives out in public?

Seems like we are going to be public – but perhaps there will be a leaning toward keeping some anonymity in the system.

Perhaps foursquare can embargo check-ins for an hour if you so choose. Maybe there are looser affiliations in the group text world – some people connected all the time like an AIM chat and others getting the text a little later.

Who knows which way it is going – but it seems to me that the first shots in the LBS war have been fired, and group text is answering back. It’s early days. Guess who really has all the power and data in the equation – its the cellphone operators – talk about a treasure trove of location based data. Soon it may just be “No only can I hear you now, but I know exactly where you are standing and who you are chatting with!”

Now that’s real Location Based Stalking.



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