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Will Geolocation Be As Big As Facebook?
By: Brett Moneta
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Regardless of the privacy, paranoia, and stalker issues, geolocation apps aren’t going anywhere. As a matter of fact, they’re getting more invasive — or better, depending on how you look at it.

And to drive the point home, it was also one of the bigger noises coming out of SXSW (The South By Southwest Interactive Conference for those of you not in the know — that should be no one reading this.) Here are some of the latest and most popular geolocation apps coming out of SXSW:

Highlight – This is one everyone seems to be talking about. It takes the six degrees of separation to a new level. Imagine taking everyone outside your first-level network on LinkedIn and locating them in comparison to your own location based on the following priorities: friend connections, things in common, time of day, and location. Highlight’s creators mention talking to someone who they think is a complete stranger but who actually might be a friend of a friend. I’m not sure that people are actually willing to talk to complete strangers even if they know they have mutual friends, but privacy foes of geolocation have been wrong more than once. And I’m not a foe. Baby steps.

Glancee – Glancee is a background location app similar to Highlight, combining the priorities into what sounds like some sort of an algorithm, choosing friends over interests and more personalized interests over the more common ones), and distinguishing between people you already know and everyone else.

Glomper – I like this one. It focuses more on where cool events are happening around you. Then, it allows you to invite social media contacts to come with you. It had real potential in the advertising department.

Mingle – Like the aforementioned mention on LinkedIn, this one ties itself specifically to your professional network. Good idea, but could this turn into in-person spamming?
Geoloqi – Geoloqi lets you share your location in realtime with friends, like several other apps, but it doesn’t stop there. You can also leave yourself location-based Geonotes and create layered maps.
Foursquare is still king. It was first in the minds of many and seems to have just the right mixture of intrusiveness and fun. After all, it’s not like you have to leave it on for extended periods of time. You just have to check in and get out. And there are plenty more, like Gowalla and Whrrl.

So what’s the deal? Will this be the year of the geolocation app? The reality is, and I think we all know it inherently, is that geolocation has the ability to be as powerful as Facebook. This is, of course, assuming that Facebook doesn’t integrate geolocation into its platform. Which is unlikely. It will.
Much like the concept of social media, geolocation is just going to take time. People knowing your personal info is one thing, but knowing your location is completely another. And that’s a completely new comfort level.

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About the Author
Brett Moneta has been playing in the digital world since 1996. He’s worked for companies like AOL, Avenue A | Razorfish, and Omnicom, developing content strategy and consulting on usability for companies in IT, consumer electronics, retail, healthcare, energy, and more. You can follow his tweets and read his blog too. Find him online here.
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