Friday, October 8, 2004

When location means something

Via Adam comes red | blue:

"a free Java™ app that figures out where you stand, or perhaps more accurately, where you are standing in our [i.e. America's] politically polarized country. By taking your current location, and finding the nearest individual donors of campaign funds from the publicly available data from the Federal Elections Commission, red | blue is able to provide you an accurate reading of the political leanings of your surroundings -- red for Republican or blue for Democrat."

This reminds me of election time, when wandering my neighbourhood I saw mostly NDP and Green signs in people's yards and I felt at home. When running errands in other places, I would see Liberal signs and think, oh, that's interesting. But when I entered an area where there were only Conservative signs, I left as quickly as possible ;)

But seriously, as Adam points out:

This strikes me as among the first of a wave of similar (and eventually far less kludgy) applications that, building on the social-networking and other databases already in place, will begin to reveal those latent currents and flows. As to what we do with that information - whether it's self-reinforcing or creatively disruptive - well, that remains to be seen, doesn't it?

On other fronts, Howard Rheingold reports on Annotating the Planet, Microsoft Style:

"Keep in mind that devices that connect you to the infosphere also connect the infosphere to you. State agencies and your nosy in-laws will know your every move, and if you are a target of one of those with access to the surveillance sphere, you won't find it easy to elude them. Mostly, they will use their powers and their communication channels to give you 20% off on your favorite detergent. The ordinary everyday transaction, however, when it is multiplied by ALL the transactions taking place in the world, is a mighty force. If billions of people begin to use purchasing power to support their values and beliefs, what kind of economics, what kind of governance will result? When we routinely connect our telephones to the physical world by reading or tagging, will we become more or less free than we are today? And can we have a conversation about that question before mass-adoption makes it moot?"

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