Ten years ago, on May 1, 2000, the ability to track one’s self was revolutionized when the government had the feature Selective Availability removed from the Global Positioning System (better known as GPS). This gave normal civilians the ability to use GPS more accurately to determine their position in relation to a specific destination.
With the Internet continually becoming more ingrained in our everyday lives, the use of GPS is again being revolutionized and changed. Today, GPS is used for many different things, including determining turn by turn directions, researching the exact longitudinal and latitudinal degrees an individual is currently standing at, to play games, for government purposes, and even for marketing purposes.
There are many issues that can be discussed concerning privacy, the use of GPS, and the Internet. But, I have two specific topics in mind to consider for my next “travel destination,” both being real time location-based services/games. I am hoping for your help in determining which destination I should choose! The two destinations up for consideration are Foursquare and Geocaching.
The objective of Foursquare is to give the player a new way of exploring their city by “checking in” at different locations using text messages or a device specific application. Users are then awarded points and badges for logging their destinations. I can see many issues arising with this site concerning marketers and the users’ privacy. It would be interesting to explore and research just where all of the location information stored in this game goes to, as well as the possible future implications of it.
My favorite explanation of geocaching is: modern day pirate treasure hunting. The objective is to use a handheld GPS device to hide and seek containers (with “treasure” inside) anywhere around the world. There are a handful of geocaching social networking sites where people log caches (the containers) that they’ve found and clues to those that they’ve personally hidden. I haven’t heard of any geocachers complaining about privacy issues, as it is a tight-knit community where a lot of trust is involved. But, it would be interesting to experiment with the game and see if I find any such issues. If I were to explore this topic, I’d use www.geocaching.com as my social networking site of choice, as it is the self-named “Official Global Cache Hunt Site” and the largest geocaching site.
What are your thoughts? Which GPS-related social networking site/game should I explore for the next few weeks?