XKCD on the Future Self

latitude xkcd

This morning’s XKCD, Latitude, spells out one of the reasons people will be weary of setting up continuous location trackers: the future self. The future self forgets that they are sharing their location and then act as if no one knows where they are going. In this case Megan’s friend tracks her stops at a sex shop, toy store, hardware store and finally the burn ward, telling a pretty clear story of a mistranslated kama sutra (ahem).

The name Latitude comes from the recent Google service that will share your location with your network (or publicly). However, it could have just as easily been called Loopt, Brightkite, Fire Eagle or any number of other location-updating services. I am personally looking forward to these services becoming ubiquitous so that I can track my location and aspects of my life, but as they currently stand these services are not poised for mainstream adoption. They need to do more to prevent people from embarrassing or endangering themselves.

One location-sharing service that takes a more constrained role is Glympse. It allows you to share your location on an ad hoc basis with specific people for a specific amount of time. Check-in services like FourSquare (or Dodgeball) let you specify when you self-locate as you wish. These are half-measures and don’t meet everyone’s needs, but they provide important steps in the right direction.

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