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Cellphones Handhelds Hardware

Map As Metaphor In a Location-Aware Mobile World 178

Posted by kdawson
from the where-you-are dept.
mattnyc99 writes "Two weeks after the launch of Google Latitude, your inbox is probably full of requests and privacy advocates probably have even more concerns than they did at first. But some tech pundits are already seeing the bigger picture of a digital lifestyle based around the always-on, GPS-based mobile map. The NYTimes's John Markoff has a great piece in today's Science Times about the map as metaphor for a time when 'future systems will probably begin to blur the boundaries between the display and the real world.' Over at Esquire.com's Tech Therapist, Erik Sofge talks to the geek behind Latitude and offers a similar reality check: 'Latitude will be precisely as annoying as e-mail and social networking sites and cell phones themselves — and just as useful. What won't stop Latitude, or the wider rollout of location-based tracking, is bitching about it. These are juggernauts of free, culture-reorienting technology. And you and me, we are but posts on the massive Facebook profile of history.'"
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Map As Metaphor In a Location-Aware Mobile World

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  • Hold on now (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AnonGCB (1398517) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [smaps7]> on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @07:21PM (#26895565)
    What was the problem with just having a small checkbox for being included in the tracking or not? And why can't we trust companies anymore? I may not be the most up to date, but come on, I've never heard about google doing something questionable with your data.
    • Re:Hold on now (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @07:27PM (#26895635) Homepage Journal
      None of these systems have a checkbox too stop my idiot sister forwarding crap to me and implicitly enrolling me in her facebook centric lifestyle.

      I can turn it off but I can't turn off the people who turn it on. For example as a result of this connection there are now pictures of me on facebook. Meta data in image files will soon include positioning information. I don't get a choice about this information being distributed.
      • by wjh31 (1372867)
        When uploading pictures to facebook, the uploader requires the copyright holders permission, if they are pictures you took, then you could tell facebook to take them down
        • by Sporkinum (655143)

          But how would you know if there were pictures of you there if you aren't on facebook, or myspace, or any other thing like that?

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            And how would you know if some stranger saw you on the street? They'd know what you look like AND your location! And they could take your picture too if they like.

            You've just got to do your best to stay out of photos, you can't control them.

        • by QuantumG (50515) *

          if they are pictures you took

          Of yourself. Yes. I suppose that is possible. If you're a scene girl.

      • by fabs64 (657132)

        Then your problem is "people". Not "technology"

      • None of these systems have a checkbox too stop my idiot sister forwarding crap to me and implicitly enrolling me in her facebook centric lifestyle.

        I can turn it off but I can't turn off the people who turn it on.

        The only submission [slashdot.org] of mine to make it was about this exact point. Bluntly put, I was told to shut up, quit being such a luddite, and drop any pretence of having any privacy in the first place.

        But I'm still not on Facebook, nor do I plan to. On the contrary, I'm looking interestedly at things like the Appleseed project which have the right attitude (but not much traction).

    • I may not be the most up to date, but come on, I've never heard about google doing something questionable with your data.

      Gathering it in the first place is questionable.

    • by Gerzel (240421) *

      Trust companies anymore?

      Tell me when was this mythical time when companies could be trusted?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @07:31PM (#26895685)
    Anyone who values their privacy won't sign up for this. In related news, I've also deleted my facebook. Anyone who's been following the tech news knows what they are aiming for. People want databases that know everything about you at all times, since somehow this data will change the world for the better. Such databases will inevitably be abused; people who disagree need to take a few history classes. I'm sick of the data mining and invasions of privacy that are done already.
    • by onion2k (203094) *

      If you're talking about a nefarious government abusing the data, they'll just send their stormtroopers round to gather the information by force on the day they come to power if you've not handed it over, so you're hardly safe from that regardless.

      Google will never have their own stormtroopers to do the same.

      Although, I'm not entirely confident in that prediction.

    • I signed up for it, using the web UI... set the address to the address of my office (easy enough to find anyway) and my icon's been sitting there the past 3 weeks. Ooh, comma, wow.
    • by mgiuca (1040724)

      In related news, I've also deleted my facebook.

      That's what passes for news these days?

      Anonymous Coward Deletes Facebook Account
      Values Privacy. Won't Get Latitude

    • Anyone who values their privacy won't sign up for this.

      Of course we won't. This adds no value for my part. If someone wants to know where I am they can send me a text. If we're supposed to meet at a place they don't know, I can send them and address, GPS coordinates, or even a screenshot from my phone's map application.
      I see few non-scary applications for this. Then again I *am* a little paranoid, YMMV :)

  • by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @07:36PM (#26895741) Homepage Journal
    ...who doesn't mind the small breach of privacy, plus a few ads on the side, in order to provide myself and possibly some friends some interesting and beneficial functionality?

    Oh sure there's the possibility that a corporation/stalker will be watching me at all times, but hey, stalkers sometimes have free candy (and they offer me rides in their van!).
    • I do. A little here, a little there...pretty soon there is none left.
      And this is only the tip of the iceberg.
    • by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @08:36PM (#26896377)

      Am I the only one who doesn't mind the small breach of privacy...

      Privacy is like Pandora's Box - people are all too willing to open it up when they are blissfully ignorant of the consequences. But once they finally do start to feel the pain of having set their privacy loose on the wind it is too late to try to stuff it all back into the box again.

      So choose wisely, just because you can't think of any particularly severe repercussions today doesn't mean there won't be any in the future once your data is already far beyond your control.

    • Those willing to trade Liberty for Security deserve neither.
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @07:40PM (#26895779)
    No, I haven't received any requests at all! But then, I don't have any friends that need to know my whereabouts, and nobody is currently stalking me. If my family needs to know where I am, they simply call me on my cell and ask. (Although I do frequently tell my wife when she asks that "I'm at the strip club" in the hope that someday when she calls me and I actually AM at the strip club, she won't believe and will respond with "Come On! Where are you, really?") If you are getting these requests, then perhaps you shouldn't have pointed out to your girlfriend(s) that they could be monitoring your whereabouts 24/7.

    And of course the following joke is now obsolete: A doctor, a lawyer, and a mathematician are all hanging out at the bar. They all went got their undergraduate degrees from the same institution, so they have been good friends for quite while, but their interests were a bit divergent. Somehow or another, they get to talking about relationships. The lawyer proclaims that, while he is not married, he has a beautiful mistress.

    "It is far better to have a mistress than a wife," he says. "A mistress is never going to divorce you and take your money, and if you get tired of her, you can dump her and find someone younger and more attractive. I don't understand why anyone would ever want to get married!"

    The doctor responds, "I must say that I disagree. I have been happily married for 15 years, and I just can't see any other way to live. I have my wife's nearly unconditional love, and she is there for me whether I am healthy or not. She takes care of me, and I take care of her, and there is no chance that she is just going to leave me one day. I would much rather have the steady, warm relationship of a wife than the flash-in-the-pan mistress."

    The mathematician comments, "You are both wrong. It is best to have both a wife and a mistress. Then you can tell your wife that you are with your mistress, tell your mistress that you are with your wife, and you can go into the office and get some work done."

    • by onion2k (203094) * on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @08:09PM (#26896127) Homepage

      nobody is currently stalking me

      Oh, I beg to differ.

    • by thepotoo (829391)

      Damn, Locke2005, there's a reason no one is stalking you. You're fucking boring.

      You're a PHP developer whose favorite browser is Firefox, you're an armchair scientist, you read Facebook regularly, you live in Oregon, where're you're embroiled in some legal trouble after you called you're kid's teacher a racist, you're into P2P filesharing, you're a fan of open source, and you laugh at WoW fanboys, while not realizing that you yourself spend more time watching porn and anime in a day than the average WoW pl

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        You're fucking boring. True. You're a PHP developer False. I don't even know how to spell PHP. I have worked with Java, Python, and Ruby. whose favorite browser is Firefox True. you're an armchair scientist False, but like many nerds I have opinions on current science news you read Facebook regularly False, I don't even have a Facebook or MySpace account you live in Oregon True (if you call that living...) where're you're embroiled in some legal trouble after you called you're kid's teacher a racist True, h
        • by thepotoo (829391)

          You know, I think I just learned something. Clearly, my 30 second search was hit-and-miss (mostly miss); the strength of data mining is not its ability to get personal information, but its ability to create associations, and thereby target ads.

          I'm a bit less concerned about all the personal information floating around out there about me, now. There's so much false information out there that any stalking attempts are going to be fruitless (just searched for "thepotoo", apparently someone else out there use

  • by Brandybuck (704397) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @07:46PM (#26895845) Homepage Journal

    What won't stop Latitude, or the wider rollout of location-based tracking, is bitching about it.

    What will stop it, is people not using it. Or far more likely, people not using it in ways that the pundits and marketdroids insist it must be used.

    History is full examples of technology that simply were not used. But more common are examples of technology being used in ways no one ever foresaw. I have no doubt that location-awareness will be ubiquitous in future culture, but I'm willing to bet good money that it WON'T be used the way the babbling class tells us it's going to be used.

  • Requests? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zouden (232738) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @07:47PM (#26895863)

    >Two weeks after the launch of Google Latitude, your inbox is probably full of requests

    Mine isn't. I don't think any of my friends have even heard of it. Not everyone jumps on the latest social trend as soon as it's announced. I still don't know anyone who uses Twitter.

    • by Sporkinum (655143)

      I don't know anyone personally that does twitter either. Just that twit on NPR Science Fridays that keeps going on about Twitter and Second Life.. Jesus that's annoying!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PCM2 (4486)

      I still don't know anyone who uses Twitter.

      In fact, I know more people who are aggressively hostile toward Twitter than who use it.

      Similarly, I've never heard anybody breathe the words Google Latitude -- if they actually even know what it is -- without the inevitable follow-up, "Eewww! What a creepy thing! What, is it like so people can stalk you?"

      I suspect that this is another of the occasional Slashdot stories that seem targeted squarely, and solely, at college students.

  • by DavidTC (10147) <{slas45dxsvadiv. ... } {neverbox.com}> on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @07:50PM (#26895887) Homepage

    ...but that's because Google has the data. But let me tell you my vision of the future:

    In about 20 years, everyone will be recording not only their movements, but basically everything they do. Audio at first and then video. This, however, will not be public information, it will be either stored on a device under the user's control at their house, or with a company that promises not to look at it or turn it over except in case of a warrant. (Google's just a problem because it doesn't promise this.) It will probably be via 'cell phone' at first, although it will probably subsume cell phones in the end.

    Why would people do this? To stop crime. Not them committing crime, other people committing crimes against them, and to demonstrate that they were not the person who committed a crime. The first hardware like this will come with a panic button, which would send the last two minutes of audio, plus a live stream, and your location to the police. This will quickly evolve into ways of monitoring to see if you're in distress.

    They will also have various other features. By that time, voice recognition should be workable so expect transcribed conversation, and expect the ability to look up information simply by talking about it. Expect a 'distress' code phrase to replace the panic button.

    Expect it to automatically recognize when you're supposed to be meeting someone and work with the other person's device to navigate you two together, or even if you're not meeting but happen to be near each other and are friends. Likewise, expect the ability to tell the device to lie so you don't have to talk to that boring guy who thinks you're friends.

    And let me clarify that by 'vision' I mean 'What I see happening', not 'Grand and noble scheme'. It's not what should happen or what I want to happen. I'd actually rather dislike it. I'd like the Supreme Court to decide that we have the right to record ourselves without it being subject to a search. At the very least it should be minimized...if the police assert you committed a crime at a specific time you should be able to demonstrate the recorder has you somewhere else without specifically stating where or what you were doing at that time.

    Basically, think Brin's transparent society, but instead of society recording everyone, and showing it to everyone, like he hypothesizes, or the police recording everyone which is the worse case scenario, everyone would simply be recording themselves and be able to produce a recording for themselves. And various parts of that would be automatically accessible to other people.

    Oh, and incidentally, I know that such a device would be illegal in many states, thanks to laws about audio recording. The laws will very quickly change to let you record anything you could have heard with normal hearing. (Laws outlawing the recording of something you could be sitting there transcribing are pretty surreal to start with.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I think you are being too credulous in assuming that people want these technologies to record an accurate version of their petty lives.

      IMO, the future is in technology that will allow people to convince others, and eventually themselves, that they are living the lives they want to live, not the lives they bother to build for themselves.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vux984 (928602)

      Basically, think Brin's transparent society, but instead of society recording everyone, and showing it to everyone, like he hypothesizes, or the police recording everyone which is the worse case scenario, everyone would simply be recording themselves and be able to produce a recording for themselves. And various parts of that would be automatically accessible to other people.

      Check out Robert J. Sawyers Neanderthal Trilogy ("Hominids", "Humans", & "Hybrids") The premise is that of a bridge to an alternat

    • Wouldn't turning over your recording fall under "self incrimination" aka the 5th amendment?

    • Am I the only one who thought about the clock in the Wesley's kitchen when first heard about these online positioning systems?

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Your vision is very security-centric. I believe it will be driven mostly by economics/greed.

      People are very limited in what they can accomplish individually, yet the overhead is dividing up "labor" (especially for knowledge-driven work) is extreme. Communicating and coordinating become the main tasks in themselves, and whatever it was you set out to do in the first place becomes secondary. This is why each advance in communication (printing press, telegraph, telephone, cellphone, email) causes a leap i

  • by creimer (824291) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @08:02PM (#26896047) Homepage
    We will now know where the "kitchen sink" is located. Our next metaphor mapping adventure is where the "other shoe drop" is located. :P
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So why must a system which connects me with my friends be centralized? People who treat the internet like interactive TV don't know better, but techies should not get excited about centralized Google services. P2P is the future if you don't want to wake up to Google turned Microsoft one day.

  • Helio [helio.com] had this available in 2006 They called it "Buddy Beacon" [ulocate.com]:

    Buddy Beacon is the new way for Helio members to synchronize their social lives and tell friends where the fun is. Rather than calling or texting, Helio members can switch on their Buddy Beacon and use satellite technology to broadcast their location to the friends they add to their Buddy List. When they turn on Buddy Beacon, their Buddy List friends can see their location on a map along with a nearby address. Members can add up to 25 Buddie

  • by merreborn (853723) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @08:48PM (#26896497) Journal

    ...So google already has my location data anyway. This new service gives them no more information than they already had. Instead, it simply allows me to share that data with select parties when I find it convenient.

    My wife and I plan to give "Latitude" a spin. She gets lost driving in the city now and then, and gets flustered. Being able to see her location in google maps, and give talk her through directions from there should come in handy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Mr. Slippery (47854)

      ...So google already has my location data anyway.

      You can use Google Maps on your mobile without location data. You just have to enter the location for which you want a map. (And no, I'm not always at the location I want to map, so Google only knows that I was interested in seeing what's around 123 Main Street, not that I was at 123 Main Street at 8:39pm.)

  • Same old story. Every generation uses new technology, while the old generation wrings its hands and whines about the good old days. If you don't want to embrace the future, then don't. It's up to you. But don't fool yourself that it's anything other than fear of things you haven't grown up with.
    • The concept of technology that can track you every move is not new. The notion that one would submit to it voluntarily, is new. See 1984, for example.

      Oh right, reading is old technology that the young techno-vanguard has abandoned in favor of posting pictures of themselves doing bong-hits.

      Don't fool yourself into thinking that blogging, tweeting, and doling out the right for others to track your every move is anything other than narcissism.

      • The notion that one would submit to it voluntarily, is new.

        I didn't say it wasn't new, only that the reaction to new ideas is typical. See also: rock and roll, reading novels (yes, reading novels used to be considered bad form), the telephone (impersonal, don't you know), movies (the downfall of civilization), etc, etc.

        Don't fool yourself into thinking that blogging, tweeting, and doling out the right for others to track your every move is anything other than narcissism.

        Sheesh. It's called socialization

        • So, anyone disagreeing with current net-fashion trends is either dinosaur or mentally ill?

          Or is it you rationalizing and emoing any downsides away?

          Contrary to what you think, broadcasting massive amount of information about you to wide world can be very dangerous.

          But again, I am one of those people who lived in commie countries and who knew that something that is passed like trivia could have cost you your life, job, education ... anything.

          Hell, even USians should remember Red Scare. It got pretty bad if yo

    • by tenco (773732)

      But don't fool yourself that it's anything other than fear of things you haven't grown up with.

      Like, having no privacy?

    • by dangitman (862676)

      Every generation uses new technology, while the old generation wrings its hands and whines about the good old days. If you don't want to embrace the future, then don't. It's up to you. But don't fool yourself that it's anything other than fear of things you haven't grown up with.

      But not every new technology is better than the old. For many people, it's not fear of change or nostalgia - they have the good sense to realize that the new technology doesn't cut it, or offer anything to make it worthwhile.

  • Nobody reads snowcrash anymore?

    It's like so 1992.

    Earth, the metaphor... for... all the information useful for people living on earth...

    So simple... it's brilliant.

    • Nobody reads snowcrash anymore?

      It's like so 1992.

      Earth, the metaphor... for... all the information useful for people living on earth...

      So simple... it's brilliant.

      Interesting how cyberpunk, much more than space opera is coming true.

    • by mako1138 (837520)

      The thing about Snow Crash is that the Metasphere is a completely different place, and your RL body doesn't have to go anywhere while you're linked up. TFA is postulating a move toward something like the ubiquitous glasses in Dennou Coil, where a digital overlay is projected over the real world.

      • by timeOday (582209)
        Exactly - rooting the system in physical location is the opposite of cyberspace, where physical location and circumstances were to become irrelevant.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by idlemachine (732136)

      Nobody reads snowcrash anymore?

      It's like so 1992.

      Nobody reads philosophical texts anymore?

      It's like so 1931.

      The map is NOT the territory. [wikipedia.org]

  • Not only is the service opt-in and very clear about what you're opting into, but I received an email a couple of days later reminding me that I was broadcasting my location.

    It's hard to have privacy concerns about something you choose to do that is so straightforward about what it does.

  • Can anyone shed a light on why European G1's despite having Android version 1.1, still don't have Latitude? I have a coworker with an old Nokia business phone, and he has access to it. So it can't be the fact that they are holding an European release.

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