But why? (and why would anyone care…)
Well, why anyone would care can only be pointed to me just being a point of data as a heavy user leaving the services. I was a poweruser. 878 posts on Brightkite, 703 checkins on Foursquare, 54 stamps with Gowalla, and I had enabled geotagging on my twitter account and posted over 2000 messages.
Simply: too much work and risk, too little reward.
All I got were quite a few stalker like experiences grouped with a shift of my thinking about location based services from expression of physical identity to needless ego boost.
One specific interaction really bothered me to look at the benefits of these services. I had someone look up historical data on my checkins and put themselves in places so they would ‘run into me.’ Once I switched my habits, they did as well (that is when I figured it out).
Their response: ‘well, you put it out there.’
I did. I opted in to getting stalked. From a stalkers point of view, this is a goldmine. Foursquare for example lists the picture and location of recently crowned mayors on their homepage. Here is a picture of someone, with the address of the place they usually hang out. I find that troubling, especially for someone just wanting to share with friends.
In trade for being at risk of stalkers, you get $1 off your beer. The tradeoff just doesn’t seem worth it.
I never thought I would advocate for privacy with these services. There are plenty of crazy folks in the public, enabling them with your name does nothing to add to crazy, you are still at risk, but I can’t help but realize how troubling this data can become when the startups that are hosting the data are motivated to have the most complete data set of the most influential people in the area. In other words, a private ‘with friends’ model is needed, but startups are not rewarded for keeping privacy, they are rewarded for having the hottest network (most public).
You won’t finding me checking in anymore.
I feel the need to close with a crotchety ‘Get off my lawn.’ :).