Lots of people are already using the likes of Facebook and Twitter to let their online networks of friends know where they are and what they're doing. Trouble is, they still have to manually do the "telling" part. And frankly, half of BEING a techno-geek is the automation factor that all your gadgetry gives you.
So what if your computer, or smartphone, did the telling FOR you?
That's the idea behind Google Latitude, which is actually an outgrowth of Google Maps for mobile phones (and soon, your iPhone, as an upgrade of the Google Mobile App). Install the iGoogle gadget on your PC, and you'll be able to see the location of anyone who's opted to share their location with you — and you with them.
"Opt" being the operational word. Google says it recognizes the sensitivity of location data and has thus built
"fine-grained privacy controls" right into the application. Everything
about the new Latitude is said to be opt-in, allowing users to not only
control exactly who gets to see their location, but also what location
"For instance, let's say you are in Rome. Instead of having your
approximate location detected and shared automatically, you can
manually set your location for elsewhere — perhaps a visit to Niagara
Falls," Google said. "Since you may not want to share the same
information with everyone, Latitude lets you change the settings on a
friend-by-friend basis. So for each person, you can choose to share
your best available location or your city-level location, or you can
Latitude is currently available in 27 countries on the Blackberry, S60, and Windows Mobile operating systems, with Android support only days away and the iPhone flavor "very soon."
One wonders if this will signal the end of mobile social networks as we know them.
"Where you at?" indeed.