Saturday, July 2, 2011

Do "geosocial" apps matter in remote places?

I recently read an article about the new wave of "geosocial" apps, which use location to recommend other people around you.  In a broad sense, this isn't really a new idea - by the middle of the last decade, I could log into MySpace, ask it to show me people within a certain distance of my ZIP code, and it'd spit out what seemed like half the teen-or-older population of my city (skewed strongly toward college age, though).

My city, though, isn't a particularly big one - maybe 50,000 people, tops - and collectively, we aren't exactly early adopters: the common saying is that we get everything about five years behind the mainland.  So even today, MySpace has a lot of registered users from there, though I can't say how active they are.  Facebook may be dominant by now - but on other sites and apps I've seen, we don't seem very well-represented.

The new "geosocial" apps offer more precision, by relying on GPS data from smartphones, instead of user-provided ZIP code information.  So instead of telling me there are 25,000 users from my town, they aim to tell me that there are 25 other people at the farmer's market right now, so that we can maybe say hi to one another.  The soon-to-launch "Project Amcius" is one such "geosocial" app.

The challenge, as always, is to overcome the dominant previous-generation app.  Will my fellow citizens give up Facebook, or even MySpace?  If they do, will they look at geosocial apps, or will they just move along to the next social network, Google+ or whatever, without the real-time GPS-based stuff?  From past experience, I expect few of us will be trying the "bleeding edge" stuff, but I'll wait and see.

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