Location based services, or LPS, is something that all people rave about with the iPhone. A good article comes from Mashable under the title “And, The Really Big Think About The New iPhone Is“. In it they say that I will finally bring to us the wonders of location based services, citing Loopt as one example. There is one comment though that puts it into perspective.
I conducted a large user research project for Vodafone in the UK and Italy [...] The near universal reaction was negative. This was primarily due to privacy concerns [...]
This is not to be argued away really. It is one of the reasons I have a problem with stuff like Plazes. I just don’t want people to necessarily know where I am now. “In London at a Meeting” will tell everyone “Go rob Oliver.” because you know what, my address is easy enough to come by. Even showing it to your friends gives it the risk to getting out. e.g. Polar Rose, which I really like and see lots of potential in, has a Firefox extension that allows you to tag people in images. The problem was that you could do that in Flickr, in pictures ment for you, and Polar Rose would then grab the exact image, which is not under privacy control as only the HTML/PHP files are, not the JPEGs themselves. This is just one example of where it could go wrong. They either already fixed it or are on their way to fix it by seeing if they can see the page that the image was found on for example.
This is just one example though why the privcay concerns are valid. Above that, you will never have one system where everybody is in. I will not find all my friends via it, and with my real life friends probably very few. For the geeks among them a twitter message is enough to get a meeting
So there it goes on the record. I don’t believe in automated LBS that publish my whereabouts. I do believe 100% in e.g. doing a search and factoring in locality, or similar things. I am doing something for the local/services market anyway.