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10 ways geolocation is changing the world


Social media and location-aware applications are becoming a mainstay of daily life, yet when the topic of geolocation technologies come up in conversation the focus inevitably turns to the worry of privacy loss and our increasing inability to escape the grid. Brian Wallace at Collective Thoughts, though, thinks we need to re-examine how location-based services (LBS) can impact our world for good both globally and locally.

1. Checking in for Good: The popularity of Foursquare and Gowalla prove that, at heart, we’re still a bunch of eager little scouts looking for rewards so why not focus that energy on encouraging engagement in social and civic causes?

“Apps like Whrrl take this a step further and enable like-minded “societies” to form on a local basis. The next step is for these apps to add greater purpose by encouraging more meaningful checkins and offering corresponding badges and stamps, thus mapping the cause universe. Or for a dedicated app to be developed that rewards conscious consumption, social responsibility, and civic engagement. Yes, the CauseWorldapp features a cause element, but it’s not about cause-worthy places.”

2. Eating locally: The locavore movement (eating only that which is grown within a 100-mile radius) is growing as people try to cut the carbon footprint of their meals, encourage local farming or simply want tastier fruits and veggies. Guess what? There’s an app for that.

“Given the difficulty of accessing and verifying this information in order to live by this standard, there’s a geo-powered Locavore app. It gives you info on in-season foods, those coming in-season, farmer’s markets, and links to recipes. This rather simple app is clearly just the start. In time, location-aware apps will guide us not only to the grocery store or farmer’s market but through them. All the while identifying foods based on our particular diet or sensibility.”

3. Political organizing: There’s no turning back the clock on the role technology plays in elections, but location-based technologies give an extra boost to campaign organization.

“ Behind the scenes…we’ll see massive new sets of data available to campaigns for targeting, empowerment, and optimization. The party, candidate, and/or cause that has the best handle on geolocation will have a measurable advantage. (The Elections app will soon be updated for 2010.).”

Full story at Collective Thoughts.

The empowering side of social media.

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  • Anonymous

    Great post! I must admit I have been turned off by the idea of safety
    Issues with the geolocation technology but the idea of using the technology to find locally grown food is brilliant!