Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Google Latitude takes local knowledge too far

The other day I was having a bar-room chat about coincidental run-ins. I mean those times when you randomly bump into someone on the other side of the world, or someone you haven't seen for many years. I've had a fair few of these and they never fail to blow my mind.

"And for all the people that you do run into," I said to my drinking buddy, "imagine all those you just miss. If you'd been five minutes earlier, you would have walked straight into an old colleague. Or we could be sitting here in this bar and one of our long-lost university friends could be having a drink three doors down."

It seems that just as we got all dreamy eyed and lost in our own imaginations, along came Google. Again. Not content with having the world's web habits, email accounts, videos and world mapping sown up, now they've gone and bought up fate.

Google Latitude is a new application that you can download on to your mobile and track/stalk your friends, family and exes. If they opt in, their profile pics will appear all over your Google map (as above - although maybe not quite as goofy).

Google suggests advantages of using Latitude on the site, such as “only heading to a party when you see that several of your friends have arrived”. But what if everyone's doing it? Imagine a whole crowd of potential partygoers sitting at home looking at the iPhones all night, waiting to take someone else's lead.

Google Latitude is currently available in 27 countries, which could make it great for frequent travellers. In theory. However, I think I'd prefer to let people know my location as and when I want to - via Facebook, Twitter or Dopplr. Latitude is one networking trend I can probably resist.