Is anyone here into geotagging? You know, stuff like Fourscquare, Gowalla, Plazes, location tags in your Twitter and Facebook feeds. Does anyone here does this kind of stuff?

Personally, I don’t get any of that. Or rather I do get it. I can kinda see the attraction of these services – being able to share your location with friends, see where they are at all times and participate in the little social game of checking in, and becoming a mayor of something. I can imagine that this is why a lot of people do this. But I just cant think of a single good reason to do it myself. On the other hand I have a long list of reasons not to.

First, it would be pretty pointless. I don’t actually go to any interesting places. My location feed would basically just oscillate between 4 or 5 different locations (which include home, work and school) at a very regular intervals with almost no deviations. Close study of that pattern would most likely reveal that I have no social life to speak of, which is probably not something I would like to advertise on the internet. Like I did right now for example.

Second, if I would geotag my location people could actually find me. Not that I’m antisocial (that’s a lie, I totally am), I just don’t want the internet showing up on my porch. You see, I have this blog where have opinions about things, which is probably just about the worst thing you can do. Granted, I don’t get enough traffic for this to be a major problem (and when I do my server just keels over and dies scaring the new visitors away), but I do get some hate mail from time to time. For example, last week I got a lovely email from some Borderlands fan who called me a fag, a fruit, a homo and a rectal pirate because I was not very fond of the game he happened to enjoy very much. Would I really want such an upstanding gentleman to have real time access to my geographical location?

I could make all that stuff private, but then who do I let to see it? Close friends and family only? Well, then there is hardly any point of doing it then, since they already know where I am most of the time (see above, I really don’t go anywhere). Not to mention that this would require me to make lists and try to fight with the privacy settings of whichever service I would be using to get it configured. As far as I can tell, most social networks interpret “private” as “open to anyone who you have friended ever”. Can you of the top of your head identify all the people in your social graph you no longer talk to, or wouldn’t want to share location information with? I can’t, but I’m fairly sure I am friends with some people I don’t actually know in real life. Which I’m fine with, but this is something you ought to think about when you sign up for these location services.

Not to mention the fact that the geolocation service on your phone eats battery. I usually keep it switched off most of the time to cut down on power and resource consumption. It’s not like I need to use the one of the many “find cool shit near you” apps that often. Since I never really go anywhere, 99% of the time I will be looking up stuff near my house or my work – so I can actually pick one of these two locations from a list.

Do you use any of these services? What do you get out of them? Were you ever in a situation where they actually came in handy and made a positive difference in your life? Did you ever have a privacy issue related to one of these services?

Let me know in the comments.

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10 Responses to Geotagging

  1. k00pa FINLAND Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I don’t really care about geotagging in form of these social services.

    However I would really like to tag my photos. If I would have tagged all of my photos with location, I could easily search for photos with the location data.

    I believe that in near future every professional camera will have GPS build in just to make it easier to manage huge collection of photos.

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  2. tagging photos is ok, but i don’t even make that much of them.
    When i really want to tell someone “hi, im at FOO and here is just happening BAR” then i can do this. But why should i spam all the time with stuff noone want’s to read anyway?

    So: no, i don’t get it!

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  3. Rob UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    I don’t use them, because like you I don’t want everyone to know where I am all the time. If I’m going to be somewhere fun and I want others to join me I’ll either send a mass text message or just manually update my status.

    I have a friend though that every time he goes to the strip club it updates his Facebook status. Pretty funny actually.

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  4. Liudvikas LITHUANIA Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    You get hate mail?
    Now that is awesome. First sign of being awesome is being hated by someone, sadly I get no hate mail (there’s theory this is because I have no blog or any public opinion apart from comments on various blogs), though I’ve got a post on my youtube channel(with no videos of course, only comments on other people videos) calling me a nazi, I wear it proudly!

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  5. mcai8sh4 UNITED KINGDOM Google Chrome Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @Liudvikas, I realise that this isn’t technically ‘mail’, but I hate you for… erm, hang on… not using a capital letter for ‘Nazi’ – there you go, now you’re a little bit more awesome than before! Use it wisely.

    I’ve never used, or seen a need for broadcasting myself to the world. I’ve fallen into quite a strict routine, home, work, pub, and occasionally I throw in some other location just to keep people guessing. Although to be honest, I’m not really one for social networks, hence the lack of facebook, twitter, buzz et al updates.

    Having thought about it though, geotagging could be useful, if I set it so onlt I can see it. Then after a good night out drinking responsibly(!), I might be able to piece together what happened to me – not sure if that would be a good thing or not.

    edit – woo comment #20000

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  6. Ricky UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    If you don’t go anywhere, and have no friends, then it makes sense to not see any appeal to this service. But for a lad that goes out every day, few days, or week, it adds a little fun to things.

    I use it on a daily basis, and I used to go out a LOT. Nowadays, it’s less much – I’m on and off – for the past month or two it’s mostly just been work and home. Regardless, it also helps me keep track of exactly *when* I was *where*. I’ve never had any privacy issues with Foursquare as they make it extremely easy to understand.

    People always bring up the “broadcasting to the world” argument; you’re only broadcasting it to people you have friended. And even then, you can check in to locations without showing your friends. If you choose not to show your Foursquare friends, it’s just for yourself. If you post it to Facebook and Twitter, you automatically accept the assumption of risk of doing so. No one’s going to show up to your porch unless you check in to your porch in a way that other people can see it. Period.

    Geolocation services on your phone should only eat battery when they are on or activated. I haven’t had any problems with that.

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  7. i find it amazing that in discussions like this everybody brings up the “just my friends will see it, because i selected ‘private’ in this webform”-argument.
    No, not just your friends will see it! It’s the internet! At least the one who created this service will know it too and if there is some security-leak everyone else will see it too.
    You just can’t trust this little settings-page to be safe forever, so don’t post things you wouldn’t feel comfortable if everyone would know it.

    Maybe that’s just the technophobe part of me speaking, but i think it’s allways the same and people tend to forget things like this.

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  8. Mr.Pete GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I’ve not seen any sense in this so far.
    I have some social life, but not that much (or interesting) that I’d want to post it to the net. My friends/family mostly know where I am and if not we’ll use text messages. No need to get into geotagging.
    But then, maybe I’m boring and only know boring people :)

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  9. Douglas AUSTRALIA Safari Linux says:

    I’m in the same boat as you, Luke. I don’t go anywhere interesting enough to warrant using such a service. I too also have no social life, and value my privacy.

    I do, though, watch quite a bit of TV, and after seeing some people use it on Twitter, started using Miso. It’s the same basic concept as Foursquare and suchlike but for movies and television shows. I don’t mind showing that off on the Internet :)

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  10. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    @ Dr. Azrael Tod:

    I actually don’t mind if people post occasional “I’m at Foo! It’s awesome. Come join me!” things as tweets or status messages. It’s when they generate a constant stream of “So and so checked into Foo an became a Mayor of Bar” is when this gets annoying.

    @ k00pa:

    Most phones already do this. They put geo tags in the Exif data. Also if you use Flicker you can geo-tag your photos via their web interface if they don’t have an Exif location tag.

    @ Liudvikas:

    I don’t get much. It’s very sporadic really – like once a year or so. I guess I’m not awesome enough yet. :P

    @ mcai8sh4:

    See I never had that problem. I have never actually blacked out from excessive drinking. In fact I am hardly ever hung-over. I think I have some internal alcohol dosage meter that makes me pace myself. Then again my friends think that this is just due to the fact that I just don’t know how to party like a rock star. They keep trying to teach me that important skill all the time. :P

    @ Ricky:

    Thanks captain popularity. When you put it like this I feel like a complete loser for not being out and about every day of the week.

    No wait, scratch that. That would be like a social anxiety hell for me. Occasionally going out on the weekends are enough exposure for this recluse. :P

    @ Dr. Azrael Tod:

    I wouldn’t call it technophobic. I would call it privacy conscious. The thing about technology is that it creates new ways to compromise our privacy every day. We all ought to be mindful of that.

    @ Douglas:

    I just do that manually via Twitter. Though I mostly let the world know what I’m reading since I don’t watch that much TV. When I do, it usually ends up on this blog in form of a review though.

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