Location Based Services: Joi and Marc weigh in on Moblogging

Hmmmm.... How do I organize all this? Links? Naaah. I know, I'll just post it all here. ;-)

First, I said this (among other things):

I think unless you're a student who's always out and about or a mover and shaker like Joi there's not a whole hell of a lot to moblogging. ...

Then Joi responded yesterday:

I guess I would disagree a bit. Moblogging is still in its infancy. (Although Steve Mann has been doing stuff with mobile camera on the web for a long time...)

I think the cameras and the other attributes of the device will get better. Imagine the Sidekick with a built in camera and a color screen. The new Sharp phone has a full VGA color screen! Foma mobile video phones do 384K. So, the dinky sreen, gritty image, thing will be fixed soon.

Although the conversation style of moblogging will probably be different than weblogging, I think you have other ways to thread things.

For example, if you leave messages and images in locations for people. For instance, if you go to a restaurant, you can push a button and it pulls up all of the interesting things people have written while they were there and threads you to other places those people have been. If you're going to a place, you search for people who have moblogged from that location, finding links to their images and maybe their weblogs. In an "augmented reality" (see my brother-in-law Scott Fisher's work on this. He's actually done a system of using mobile phones to annotate space with content.) sort of way, it's like annotating the real world. That's how I look at it. I'm this little thing crawling around the earth, annotating it with images, sounds and text. You leverage being mobile by being able to add location. This database can be viewed by time/location/ID and we can create meta information from that. (Yes, there are security/privacy issues.)

Then Marc responded to Joi's comments:

There are two meaty things to take out of Joi's rant:

- Shared Reviews servers can house moblogging reports on various resturants, movies, clubs, museums, art galleries and any meatspace location. Since the phone's UI real estate is so limited, Review templates will make it easy for folks to simply select: Post Review:Restaurant:Food:Quality rating...navigate back to Restaurant:Service:Quality rating and then finish with Restaurant:Ambiance:Originality rating. Simlar Reviews could be easily posted as you left a movie or when you found a cool party.

And conversely they should be able to access, via their phones: Find Review:Restaurant:Ethnicity%Location or Find Review:Restaurant:Price Range%Ethnicity.

- The time/location/ID idea could also be a server - based upon GPS info (and interaction with people's persistent digital ID's - of course!) Not only could other phones be tracked, and compatible mates located and synchronized with you, but real world spaces could house databases of hypermedia information - available as Scalable Content and renderable not only on phone/PDAs or portable PCs, but also new fangled 'FM Radio watches', handheld PVR/DVD players and other kinds of 'information appliances.

Though the moblogging phone connection may seem to be irrelevant and a bit nerdy, I defintely see it as a crucial piece of the puzzle. All of these 'Islands' of technology stand on their own, as if they were separate fingers on the same hand. (Or islands in the same ocean.)

But you know what happens when the all the fingers get clenched into a fist - right?

Then again, back to Joi:

In Marc's response to my response to Russell Beattie's comments on moblogging he talks about "Shared Reviews servers can house moblogging reports on various resturants, movies, clubs, museums, art galleries and any meatspace location."

So there is another very important part of this "location thing." Servers should be distributed too. You should be able to talk to a local server. A server in your restaurant, billboard, vending machine, car. Local servers can be higher bandwith and can have lots of cool local features. You can leverage things like bluetooth and IR on devices that don't talk location very well. This decentralization is important and relates in a weird way to Dave and Evan's discussions about RSS aggregation. So what if you had RSS aggregators where you had to physically be there to see stuff. You had to be able to physically get into a nightclub before you could see the news feed for what the club members were doing... It sounds backwards to what the Net is about, but I think that there are some applications. It definitely helps on the privacy security issue if certain kinds of information are stored only locally in servers that you trust.

Alright! And now my turn! Whew!

Okay, so I'll summarize:

  • Moblogging is just starting and devices are getting better
  • Location based services are key:
    • Sharing reviews based on location ("annotating the real world")
    • Locating and syncing with others
    • Local information stores

Okay, very cool stuff. I think it's awesome these guys are responding to my thoughts! And despite what he said, I don't think Joi and I are in disagreement at all. I'm saying that there's limitations right now with moblogging and that there needs to be something else added to it. My thoughts in a later post was that some processing needs to be done on the server side to create links, etc. Joi's looking at the handhelds themselves and describes new hardware and new location-based services that will add to moblogging and I think those ideas are great. I'm just saying that snapping pics and posting them does not a weblog make. I think Joi just might be upset because I compared him to a rock star. ;-) (Just kidding Joi).

So location based services is cool and brings up some interesting thoughts. I've talked about how I think Bluetooth HotSpots is a neat idea. (That's probably because Bluetooth has me jazzed right now. It's a kick-ass little technology.) But this conversation makes me realize how both Bluetooth and WiFi HotSpots could be augmented with location based info! I wonder if those guys from Boingo and Cometa realize this potential? Probably not. They're probably just thinking like ISPs. But there's some serious potential there! In the simplest form, if I access a WiFi HotSpot from a Starbucks, I should be able to get to the coffee menu, right? If I'm in a Harvard Square in Boston, I should be getting reviews of local night spots and things to do. Thinking more into the future... have you been to a museum lately and gotten one of those digital audio-guides? (A few years ago they weighed a ton, but now they're better). Well that could be done via Bluetooth to your phone, along with audio-commentary left by other museum-goers. Lots of stuff like that. Connectivity provided along with location-based information. But guys! The servers providing this local based info can be in Akron, Ohio - they just need to know where you are, not be located there themselves!

In addition, I really like the stuff that's being done with the app I linked to just now - the MiniGPS. You set it so your phone does stuff once you enter or leave a certain location. Very cool. If it was attached to a central DB, you could get alarms left by others as you entered say a restaurant ("Get out of here! It's horrible food!") or a mall ("Free donuts for anyone using this service. Say 'location based services' to the cashier"). This is some neat stuff and I'll have to explore it more.

Cool stuff.


< Previous         Next >