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Tag Archives: Geotagging

Ice Cream Spy’s Conclusion…For Now…

This certainly isn’t the conclusion for the NYC Ice Cream Spy, but just of me formally keeping the class updated on its whereabouts. I definitely intend to keep carrying out this project and seeing how far I can take it throughout the Spring and into the Summer.

I’ve moved my “How-To” section on how I made the bot/website back to the WordPress blog, as to not clutter  the Blogger site, containing the map that I am hoping NYCers will use. Sorry for all the changing up!

Here’s my post on how the promotion of Ice Cream Spy has been going over this past week: http://icecreamspy.wordpress.com/

A quick look at the stats:

  • @IceCreamSpy – Following: 413 | Followers: 82 | Listed: 6
  • 7 ice cream trucks displaying sticker (Honieh & Ryan- thank you for the wonderful idea of making stickers/talking to ice cream truck owners; it seems to be working well!)
  • 24 geotagged ice cream trucks on map (on Blogger site)

Ice cream truck displaying sticker

Mobile Donations – Concluding Post

1. Please text MONKEY to 89183 for a brief summary via 3 Text Messages to your mobile phone!


2. Listen to the podcast and view the accompanied slides.


Mobile Active Org

American Red Cross – Mobile Giving Program

US Mobile Carriers

Mobile Giving Foundation

It’s Time to Find those Ice Cream Trucks!

The @IceCreamSpy Twitter Bot is up and running and all the tweets are being posted on a map on my Blogger site here: http://www.icecreamspy.blogspot.com/. I switched over to Blogger (from WordPress) because I was having trouble with getting a map up on WordPress and found some good alternatives for using a map on Blogger.

I have 2 posts up for you guys to read on the site. The first post, “The Basics of Creating a Twitter Bot,” is an overview of the steps I took in creating my Twitter Bot. The second post, “Diving Into Yahoo Pipes,” is a more in depth explanation of how I used Yahoo Pipes to create an RSS feed for my Twitter Bot.

Feel free to spread the word & tag any trucks you find while out around NYC! I’ve been using the Echofon app to geotag as of now. It seems to be working pretty well.

Map of Ice Cream Truck Locations

With little knowledge of HTML, what is involved in making a Twitter Bot that aggregates & retweets geotagged info?

Hey everyone! As last week, you can read about this week’s update at @Leslie4IceCream, or in the Twitter badge below. I’m also working on setting up a WordPress blog, so everything can be better mashed together & presented. Here’s my blog so far: http://icecreamspy.wordpress.com/. I want to test everything out with a blog first, before I commit to buying a website.

As an update, I mentioned on Twitter that I was having some trouble with Yahoo Pipes, but I think I might have figured it out.

Here’s my “XL Tweet” with my question for easy reading:

Twitter / Leslie4IceCream

Mmmm…It’s Almost Ice Cream Season!

Hey everyone! For my next travelogue, I want to try to actually make some of the new media that we discuss in class. You can read more about what I want to do on my Twitter account: @Leslie4IceCream. I’m working on hopefully getting a plugin installed to WordPress, so you won’t have to go directly to Twitter, but for now, Twitter will do! The two images below will take you to my Twitter account.

Twitter / Leslie4IceCream

Digital Media is Everyware / concluding T#3

Hi Class,

Let’s conclude our 3rd travelogues and start minding the digital media around us.

Final research post – by Friday the 5th:

  • Post your final research post(s) based on the process you’ve been leading in the past 3 weeks.
  • Try to develop some insightful conclusions / questions / critique of your explored environment.
  • Comment on at least 4 posts.

Research conclusion (/product) – by Monday the 8th, 4pm:

  • Imagine we’ve never read your previous posts, think of them as your process and at this post as the final product to the level that this post could be reprinted (so to speak) in another site out of the context of an accumulative student research work
  • Post your concluding post for this travelogue.
  • Comment on other students posts as you see fit.
  • Be prepared to discuss your favorite (/most note-worthy) travelogues in class.

Required Reading / Viewing:

  • Adam Greenfield at PICNIC08: The Long Here, the Big Now, and other tales of the networked city:
  • Dan Hill, The City As A Platform
    (The first part is fun but can get slightly tiring, feel free to fast forward to the second part starting with: “This somewhat banal sketch of an average high street is very deliberately based on the here and now; “)
  • Read and comment on the summary.

Recommended Reading:


  • Go through the materials.
  • Summarize it for us in a nicely accessible post to be published by Sunday 4pm, ideally running some threads between them (you can use some wiki or collaborative writing software to write the post and then publish it under one of your names).
  • Be prepared to present the article and lead the discussion in class.
  • Post to del.icio.us some links that expand the discussion either about the text or about key themes in it.


Twitter and Geotagging: The Conclusion

This travalogue began several weeks ago with a simple question: Should I enable geotagging on my personal Twitter account?

In my research about what some of the risks could be for users who did enable geotagging, I identified several groups of people that could be risk. They included political activists whose tweets may be used for identification and prosecution of participation in political rallies, young people who may be at risk from lecherous marketers, and sexual predators, and high-profile individuals, such as celebrities, politicians etc who are often targets of the news media, the paparazzi and so called cyber-stalkers.

Although I do not belong to any of the above groups, I’ve decided not to enable geotagging on Twitter. I’m not denying there are benefits to geotagging, many of which I think Nadine has covered in her research on Ushahidi, however the circumstances that people find themselves in those types of situations that may benefit from it are different from my circumstances.

According to this article on The Next Web, only .23% of tweets are geotagged (this article was from January and I couldn’t find any more recent data, but I wonder if this number has jumped significantly). Regardless of whether other people enable geotagging, my main concern is about the ability of this software to track people’s locations with respect to personal privacy. I understand I’m inherently giving up my privacy by participating in Twitter to begin with, but I’m not comfortable with enabling people to track my specific location. I think I would begin to self-censor my tweets if I did enable geotagging, and that’s counter to the way that I want to be using Twitter. Even though Twitter allows its users to delete their geotagged tweets, it takes up to 30 minutes before this can take effect, plus the location information that has been gathered by third-party applications is not necessarily deleted. Plus, geotagged information is exact and links to Google Maps. I also don’t use third-party applications that benefit from enabling this kind of geotagging information, applications such as FourSquare, Birdfeed, Twidroid etc.

This short video from YouTube demonstrates how to locate a random person on Twitter that has their geotagging setting enabled and sums up in under two minutes why I don’t want to enable geotagging.YouTube Preview Image

Clearly I am concerned about privacy, and therefore I think Twitter should be commended for making sure that this service is opt-in. As we’ve discussed several times in class, people rarely change privacy settings that are default, and I think they’ve done a good thing making this something people have to consciously decide to do. This is what annoyed me about Google Buzz – they made it automatic! Twitter also allow users to selectively geotag, which means if I do find myself in a situation where I’d like to reveal my location (eg I’m in some sort of emergency), I would be able to do that.

Lastly I recognize that this issue of geotagging is not limited to the culture of Twitter but has larger implications in various aspects of our society and our given media environment. For example, every time I take a picture with my iPhone it asks if I want to record the location where the picture was taken from (I say no – so at least I tend to be consistent so far!) This travalogue has made me think more seriously about the use of location-based technology more generally, when I swipe my credit card for example I realize its effectively mapping my location at that certain point in time, but in that case only my credit card company has access to it. It reminds me of The Trap, and that I have to come to terms with the fact that I’m mapping my location to a large extent regardless of whether or not I enable geotagging on Twitter. But for now, since I still have a choice, I will choose not to further allow my location to be specified without seeing a specific benefit. I don’t see the benefit of enabling other people to pinpoint my location.

The Geocaching Powers That Be Have Disappointed Me!

As much as I feel like I have been finding a lot of positive aspects surrounding Geocaching through my research, I have to say that I found myself disappointed tonight in the way in which the actual company of Geocaching.com (owned by Groundspeak) is run. A few days ago, I had posted a question to the “Forums” section of www.geocaching.com, asking people why they geocached, who they geocached with, and what they got out of it, stating that I was interested for a university course I was taking. A day later, I received an email from a Forums maintenance person, saying that “polls” are not to be posted on the forums without permission; he gave me an email address at Groundspeak to contact in order to ask for consent. I just received a response today, stating that they will not allow my survey on the forum, even though I stated it was for educational purposes. I thought most companies are usually happy to help out for the purpose of education, so I was disappointed by this response and thought I’d share it with you.

On the plus side, though, the original contact was helpful and directed me to a thread where someone had already asked those reading, “Why do you geocache?” If you guys want to check it out, there’s some great posts in there that help to show the physical socialization aspects of the game. I had asked him if it would be okay to simply post “Why do you geocache?” to the forum, but he steered me away from this course of action, stating that getting permission is the best route- I guess he was already jaded by my ulterior motive of education :-( .

Do you guys have problems when asking companies for information for educational purposes when doing any sort of research? Did I just go about this all wrong? I usually receive pretty positive responses when I mention the research is for school, so I thought this would have been the best route to take. But I guess not!

Who Is At Risk from Geotagged Tweets?

After doing some more research, the main problem that I see with geotagging is that it doesn’t just locate information but it locates people. Although I understand the benefits of enabling it, specifically when it comes to third-party applications, to me it tends to have an Orwellian connotation. In some ways its even worse than the world outlined in 1984, because instead of “Big Brother” watching us, we are giving up some of our most personal and private information out for free, to anyone who wants it. I also think it’s important to understand that tweets that are geotagged are accessible beyond just Twitter itself. At the end of 2009, Twitter made its content searchable by Google and Microsoft. This opens the information gathered via geotagged posts open Facebook’s status updates are also accessible in real-time search via Google as well.

There are several groups of people for which privacy issues related to geotagged tweets might be a problem. I will deal with two in particular:

Young People

Our society tends to have a priority on protecting  young people. Yet, it’s interesting to note that young people are not the primary users of the micro-blogging site (its main users tend to be white, wealthy, older males). Yet, if this demographic begins to use Twitter more, there could be serious privacy implications to any minors who choose to geotag their posts. They could be subject to a wide range of predators, from sexual predators, sex offenders, to less obviously harmful groups of people like marketers, who are interested in tracking where these groups go, when, and why, so that they can more effectively target their marketing campaigns towards them. Click here for some more demographics on Twitter users.

Public Figures

Public figures have always had to give up a level of privacy in order to hold esteemed positions, whether they are famous actors, or publicly elected officials. For whatever reason, Twitter has seen a huge amount of celebrities who use Twitter. These kinds of people who geotag their posts are opening themselves up to both rabid fans and so-called cyber-stalkers.

People Who Live in Under Repressive Regimes

I detailed the privacy risks a bit more in my first post this week so I won’t go into too much detail, but many times people will geotag their location to verify there are somewhere, (a rally, protest, etc). If this information is public, it could allow repressive governments to have access to this information, whether it is to arrest people, to locate them at the scene of a protest and prosecute them, or simply to track the habits and movement of dissidents.

A couple of other thoughts that make me question my initial dislike for geotagging…

  • If you have nothing to hide and understand the risks, what really is so bad about geotagging? What is it about the element of location that makes me (and others) uneasy about this?
  • It’s easy enough to turn off, it’s off by default.
  • As far as celebrities or public figures,, you could say they any public figure that does geotag their Tweets only have themselves to blame since it’s so easy to opt-out of geotagging, and it is off by default.
  • How is this information fundamentally different from what people post on Facebook?

To me, the most serious problems seem to be from young people not understanding the privacy implications and opening themselves up to predators.

What are the privacy implications of geotagging on Twitter?

What are the privacy implications of enabling geotagging on your Twitter account?

In November of 2009, Twitter added a feature which enabled users to selectively “geotag” their tweets with their exact location. They said the goal of this was to provide more of a context to users’ surroundings. It allowed users to tweet about places and add a context to their tweets, connect with users at a local level, and join in on local conversations. It was, and remains, an opt-in service, which meant that users had to enable the feature (it was off by default). While there are benefits (some of which are mentioned above) to enabling geotagging, Twitter asked its users to consider several issues including: geotagging uses your exact location, it is available to everyone (even if you delete it) and turning it off does not mean your old data will necessarily go away. It enables third-party applications to use this data, but can always be disabled at the user’s request. One advantage that came out of this decision was the ability of Twitter to track local trending topics in various cities or countries, rather than the summation of all trending topics worldwide. One of the primary disadvantages has to do with privacy – one can imagine a situation in which a user live tweets a protest in a country and an authoritative government uses the geo-tagged location to arrest them. One serious consideration for anyone enabling geotagging is that if you chose to remove your location history, you can do so on your settings page, but it can take up to 30 minutes. And, although you’ve deleted the information from Twitter, they cannot guarantee that the information will be removed from all 3rd party application copies. After enabling geotagging, Twitter updated its privacy policy (click here to read it). I noticed that in the policy “What you say on Twitter may be viewed all around the world instantly.” Clearly this is both an advantage and a disadvantage, but in what sense is adding your exact location to tweet aiding the amount of information that gets put out there. Is it in a good way? The issues remain, should one (namely in this case, me) enable geotagging on my tweets?