After having had some fun half-mocking health care uses of location-based media such Foursquare, BrightKite and Gowalla, I do think these services represent a small part of larger set of trends. Although these services have thus far emerged as stand-alone media, their essential functions can be thought of as modules which eventually will be mashed up and integrated and subsumed into bigger bits. And now I wonder if geolocation-based media may usher forth a new kind of attention-currency.
Just as links to a website play an important role in how we find businesses in Google, I can see how checkins could be part of an emerging trend to bring hyperlinks to “real” places. Services like Foursquare provide information about business in several ways, two of which are by number of checkins and the tips/reviews patrons tap into their mobile devices. Additionally, other meta-data (such as the number of tweets or blog posts referring to a particular venue on Foursquare) conceivably add attention-weight to businesses.
What’s interesting about these technologies, is how (and that) people use them. We now know – for good or ill – that there are people who willingly share personal information which only years ago they would have concealed within an intimate context. The revealing nature of technology becomes clearer as novel technologies beget novel re-purposing, which in turn reveal things about ourselves.
And so, anytime we consider these media, we have to not only consider their effect on human beings but also on their effect on the evolution of technology itself. The Web is giving rise to metadata-based media. Which is to say if the medium is the message, then the message of the future Web is metadata. Just something to consider as social-streams become a staple of human interaction.
Anyway, I can envision the emergence of other services which wish to capitalize on this new kind of IRL hyperlinking. What do you think? Will we see the emergence of a new kind of attention economy, where metadata like geolocation and tagging become valuable commodities?
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