Posts Tagged ‘BrightKite’

If social media services want me as a user…

Friday, June 6th, 2008

I usually experiment with new technologies and services as they come out. I don’t like to tinker, for the sake of tinkering, though. I like to see what’s out there in case the new hotness will make my life easier. Because of this, even as I experiment, new products and services have a high barrier to overcome if they want me to patronize them in the end – the inertia of the current services I use.

I set up a MySpace account in a fit of boredom. The service had already been out for some time – long enough to become notorious of the immaturity of the content. But it was also known for being a place for artists to self-promote. That interested me. MySpace was good, allowing me to reconnect with some people I would never have been able to keep track of. It was my at-arms-length social network, though. I’d fire off a friendly message now and again, or post on someone’s page, but I wasn’t too engaged.

When facebook came along, it held no appeal to me. What did I need another MySpace for? I had my answer soon enough as MySpace suffered from security breaches that resulted in tons of annoying spam. It got so bad for me that I signed up at facebook and told all my friends at MySpace that I was shutting down my account. I’ve never gone back, and don’t plan to.

A similar tale can be said for Plaxo and LinedIN, except in this case LinkedIN has proven to be such a valuable service that I have no incentive to migrate to Plaxo. And I’m loathe to maintain multiple account and profiles on networks with duplicate scopes. I’m sorry Plaxo, but LinkedIN is where I’m at, and you’re going to have to work really hard to convince me to give you the time of day.

And so we come to micro-blogging and Twitter. Twitter had me – hook, line and sinker. Like others, though, I’m getting frustrated by the little whale that couldn’t (stay off my screen). I don’t think it’s the outages, though, that are driving people to seriously consider other services. While I have a sizeable cloud of contacts on Twitter, and I like simplicity of the service and the “personal news ticker” feel, it’s just text. Other services, like Jaiku and Pownce, use MMS instead of SMS – making them a little more attractive because of the added functionality. The only things saving Twitter right now are the entrenched user numbers and the fact that the other services don’t (yet) have interfaces that are easy to use.

Take Pownce, for instance. If I had a twhirl for Pownce, I’d be in heaven. Pownce Monkey is OK, but there are many things that need to be tweaked before it’s a truly useful application. If Pownce would implement geo-tracking elements a la BrightKite… Well, let’s just say that I wouldn’t shed a tear for Twitter.


Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

MapQuest and Google Maps are cool, but I rarely use them to find hotels or places to eat. I know they offer that info, but the problem isn’t that I don’t want it. The problem is that I don’t want it… while I’m sitting in front of my laptop. I generally want info on a place to eat when I’m out on the road.

Enter Dash.

Dash Navigation crowd sources traffic information, allowing you to know when traffic is bogged down up ahead, alternative routes, etc. In Japan, they paid millions to get “smart highways.” Dash can do the same thing, with only a few customers on the net.

Since Dash is connected to the internet, it allows you to enter searches for goods and services in your area. The interesting thing is that, while I may be interested in Starbucks in a couple of narrowly defined things in my life, Dash can combine all the searches to determine some interesting facts. At Web2Expo, Dash’s Mark Williamson showed how Dash could tell Starbucks exactly where, on my highway system, they should put their next store. They can base this on all the searches of all the people on the net.

There are other services that rely on GPS and geo-sensitive content. Trackstick is one of my favorites. It’s basically a glorified thumb drive, with a built in GPS that tracks your location on a set schedule. You can then download that information, mash it together with Google Maps, and see a route map.

I’ve always wanted to do this, since I travel so much. I think it’d be cool to strap a trackstick on for a couple years and just see what the results are. I’m sure there’d be little globs of activity in and around those places I frequent most.

I wonder is Dash allows you to download / mash your routes. Hmmm…

Last, but not least, there is BrightKite, a social media application that allows you to “check in” at various locations. You can share that information with your friends, but you can also see what activity there is in your area.

Are you in a new town and want to find some new business contacts? BrightKite might be able to help. Want to share photos of your travels, snap them with your cell and they’ll be posted to the BK account in seconds.