Maybe WHERE does matter.
I’m sitting in a cafe where WiFi is offered by a local telephony provider. This would give me access to the internet. But what if I’m more interested in throwing together a network between all the folks happily tapping away on their laptops between sips of mocha mocha latte iced grande whatever? Shouldn’t it be STUPID EASY to enable a secure network for simple interactions? I’m thinking of the following apps: chat, file sharing, music streaming, and maybe games.
Another way that where matters is already becoming evident in the way lots of newer web applications are focusing on overlaying data on locations. Frapr is a site that builds off the Google Maps API and allows users to stick pushpins into various locations on maps (US only at present, sorry). Then, you can add a little bit of text, some images, and some other metadata on top of it. I think the folks at Yelp ought to merge with Frapr and get it over with. Yelp is a reviewing/rating system for locales.
There’s currently no easy interface to know what’s going on in an area around you. If you think to search some of the more popular sites for events, you might find a few (upcoming.org, evdb.com, etc). Oh, don’t forget to check Craigslist for your area).
Imagine walking into an area such as a local cafe. You take your mobile device or your laptop and click a Firefox extension setting. Suddenly, RSS-driven feeds give you a sense of what’s going on in your area (your mobile has built in GPS, and even without it, you can throw the local ZIP code or area location code into a browser window). This suddenly gives you what’s going on, both commercially and personally. It throws coupons at you (if you’ve opted in) so that you can decide whether to hang out at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. It even tells you that The White Stripes will be playing at 8PM a few towns away. Wouldn’t you want that?
I think WHERE is the next big thing in internet technologies. I think technology that makes it easier for people and devices to react to each other in close proximity matters. I believe we’ll want our internet to know where we are and help us navigate all the data floating invisibly around us. How this will come about should be somewhat multi-optioned. Silos will ruin the effect. It’s about openness. How can you imagine using WHERE services to change the way you relate with the world around you?
Maybe WHERE does matter.