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Location services haven’t caught on… surprise?

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Earlier this week the New York Times Bits Blog reported on a study, conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which seems to indicate that location-based, check-in services like Foursquare or Facebook‘s Places don’t seem to be catching on, at least not yet.

In spite of the hype surrounding such services, Internet users still seem hesitant to get onboard the check-in train. According to the study, only 4% of online adults have ever used a location-based check-in service. On an average day, only 1% of internet users use these services.

Frankly I can’t say I’m particularly surprised at the lack enthusiasm for location-based services. It has often been observed how freely Internet users, especially those of the younger generation, post information about themselves and their personal lives but even the most liberal online socialites seem to be hesitant to share their physical location with their friends.

So what’s the problem? Since the advent of the social network, the Internet has always remained behind a screen. Facebook allows its users to share as much or as little information about themselves as they wish. They can create a persona online which may or may not truly reflect their actual self. It isn’t concrete. Location-based services, however, bring a new aspect to the social network horizon and it’s a little bit scary. If we surrender our locations to the web what will we have left? The more we give up the harder it is to escape from it all.

At the conclusion of his Frontline documentary digital_nation, media theorist and reporter Douglas Rushkoff mentions that his favorite part of his computer and the Internet is that he can still turn it off. I have to say, I completely agree with him. Location-based services may offer an interesting social experience and a new tool for mobile advertisers, but personally I hope it doesn’t catch on. I like being able to get away.

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Written by Colby R

December 1, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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