Archive for the ‘Location’ tag
Hyperlocal, Facebook and ‘Like’
I was thinking about hyperlocal a bit more recently and how the real issue hasn’t as yet been solved. That is, why there isn’t a definitive ‘thing’ that people do once they need to find local information, and why we haven’t seen a ‘giant’ taking it on.
I mean, there are a number of sites that do a pretty good job of getting there - patch.com is a good example, but there’s still a whole host of alternatives vying for the local marketplace.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this goes: Facebook’s places and ‘like’. I put a ‘like’ button on this site, but mostly for fun. However, there’s something of a pattern emerging here, and it goes like this:
- Local businesses have a ‘like’ button on their website
- Your friends say they ‘like’ a particular business
- You have a link to a recommended business
How’s this important for location? Well, I’d argue that location is the final piece of this jigsaw. Say I need a plumber, as our boiler has gone up the spout (again). I could turn to yell.com and pick one at random. Or, I could pick one that my friends recommend. That’d be better – businesses that come recommended by friends are slightly more trustworthy.
But I’ve got friends in Australia. How do I make sure that I choose a local one?
I’d suggest that your best bet for a plumber would be one with the most recommendations, who doesn’t live far away from you.
So therefore I’d say plumber choice = (max (recommendations) * min (distance))
Now I’m not sure what Facebook has up its sleeve, but this may be where things are going. Link business to customers via recommendations and distance, and you’ve got trusted hyperlocal.
Are Facebook planning this? I don’t know. But it’s worth a think about.
Social and Location – it’s all about trust
I was at the ESRI UK conference this week, which was a great event, and a couple of points made my ears prick up that I thought worth blogging about.
Steven Feldman had gave a very interesting presentation about Geo Futures – notably, where GIS was going to go in the next 5 years. There’s always that quote that ‘to look at the future, you need to consider the past’. Within the next 5 years, it’s clear there will be changes, which (along the exponential curve) will be even larger than the previous 5.
One of the things that I noted was that, we’re all scanners. Not in the sense of the David Cronenberg film, but that we have devices that can broadcast location.
Current technology allows us to transmit location on social networks pretty simply – y’know, ‘my location’ on Twitter and the shortly-to-be-released Places on Facebook. Technically we’re there (and even more ubiquitous, once Apple allow background processes without Jailbreak). With Android it’s already there. Anyway, point being – anyone can broadcast their location.
Giving things away… a little at a time
Trouble is, why would we want to? The issue isn’t really about whether it’s feasible or not (because, clearly it is)… but because it’s something we wouldn’t want to do…. normally. I don’t want everyone knowing exactly where I am. I have concerns of security (I’m away from my house), I’m not at work when I should be (slap on wrist from boss) or I’m with someone I shouldn’t be (slap on face from wife).
However, we’re already starting to get used to giving more away than we used to. Facebook contains so much information about an individual that, if you combine the profile with the last few posts, you can get a pretty good idea of what a person is like. If you couple that with the idea that, the younger someone is, the more used they are to giving away information about themselves, then you’re more likely to find that they are willing to give away location information.
But how do you determine what you broadcast?
Only certain people, only certain places
For me, it’d be a mix of two things: ‘who’ and ‘where’. The ‘who’ is the list of people you want to broadcast your location to. I’d suggest this may well divide people into ‘my work’, ‘work other’, ‘friends’, ‘family’. It would go something like this:
My work: Shows which office I’m in. Shows where I am in a large building. Shows I’m working from home today.
Work other: I’m out of the office, but a company we’re allied with might spot an opportunity and shout me when I’m near.
Friends: people I know that might want a pint with me, if I’m close.
Family: my wife wants to know that I’m getting home OK.
So how would this work? Well, for me it’s a case of broadcasting your location to the set group, but only when you’re in certain locations:
‘My work’ broadcasts when I’m in one of my company’s offices (office polygon).
‘Work other’ broadcasts when I’m in one of my company’s offices, or on the road network (office polygon + road network). ‘Friends’ broadcasts when I’m in my favourite, nominated pubs (pub buildings polygon).
‘Family’ broadcasts when I’m on the road.
So the theory here is that you have contact groups (y’know, like Google contacts) that are mapped to key locations (which could be tagged TOIDs, or WOEIDs, say…). You say who is in which group, and which locations they are allowed to see you in.
It’s an incremental idea on Google Latitude, Fire Eagle and such. You don’t turn broadcasting on-and-off to everyone; instead, you automatically broadcast to nominated people when you arrive in nominated places. Limit the ‘who’ and the ‘where’ as you wish.
Of course, for this to work, there needs to be trust. Trust that, if you’re not currently being displayed, you’re somewhere you should be. Trust that people will use your location for beneficial purposes (I knew which office you were in, so I could contact you…), not malevolent ones (I’m spying on you because you’re not in the office often enough).
But I think there could be many advantages: business convenience, and – perhaps more of a selling point – social interactions. If you fancy a pint after work, just see who is nearby for a tipple.
That’s both social and sociable. Maybe this is where Location converts virtual social into actual social?