Monday, October 6, 2008

Hey--Don't I Know You? Social Networking Makes the Leap From Online to Real Time

Picture this: you're in a restaurant, all cozied up with your secret honey, holding hands in the safety of your favorite "safe" meeting spot far away from the prying eyes of people you know. Suddenly a guy who looks vaguely familiar approaches your table and greets you warmly. "Hey--it's great to actually 'see' you in real life! Remember me from high school? We're friends on Facebook. Loved the photos of your recent family vacation." Turning to your "wife": "Hey--I thought you were pregnant? You looked like you were about to pop in the pictures and that was only last weekend. And your hair was shorter--way shorter--and blonde." Suddenly his face turns bright red in embarassment and he mumbles something, then turns and hurries away from your table.

Busted, courtesy of social media.

I've blogged before about how social media is becoming a little too social, putting many people in daily contact--albeit cyber contact--with just about everyone they've ever known. And those status updates you casually throw out there? Those, too, are now fair game for not only "friends" but whoever cares to track what you're doing or even thinking.

Starting to feel a little claustrophobic? Welcome to the future of social media. Not only will you have nowhere to hide online, but "friends" and other contacts will be able to pick you out of a crowd and walk right up to you. Forget having to think twice about posting those embarassing party pictures; you might just be in plain sight of someone you don't even know you know and he or she can observe your antics in real-time.

This technology is actually available now, courtesy of a German company, aka-aki. Apparently they think people are spending too much time on the computer and need to convert their Secondlives to Firstlives; e.g take social networking to the streets. You can download aka-aki to your cell phone and, if your phone has Bluetooth, it will vibrate when another member of aka-aki comes within 20 meters of you (meter-to-feet conversion=very close to you). You can then view that person's profile and walk right up to them to say hi, therefore dispensing with the need for those pesky "What are you doing right now?" questions--you'll be able to see what they're doing with your own eyes.

Another application, Commandro, offers similar capability, allowing you to track friends' location and proximity to you via GPS.

Something to think about next time you get a friend request, I guess.

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