While there is constant debate regarding the way corporations and the government handle our privacy, we fail to realize how much location information we offer voluntarily. Location technology is a vital feature in applications such as Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare.
On Foursquare, the location check-in is embedded in a game that could possibly detract from seeing the significance of the application. Foursquare, Yelp etc. are after-all businesses and their goal is to increase revenue. Your check-ins, recommendations and comments are all purposed to draw clients to particular businesses. This benefits the business and also other clients who would be interested in visiting the location. Reading a comment on Foursquare that Salado Restaurant has “killer” brisket tacos might make you consider it even if it is not a place you would typically frequent.
But what harm could possibly come out of that? In Location Literacy & Foursquare in the Classroom Dean Terry points out that such information may lead to a sense of what he calls “unplaceness”. Your location check-in fails to take into account the relevance of a certain place, or the experience you had there outside of the business element. Emerging technologies are working to include the human factor in location mapping. A new mobile app provides a map through the museum, and also provides more information on the art you may be looking at. Hopefully, this feature can be integrated into the mainstream for better documentation of experiences at various locations.
While the benefit of location awareness cannot be understated, there are times when it can be misleading or even downright dangerous. The ability for people to check in at fictional places, waters down the reliability of such location mapping. Location based social applications have the ability of giving away one’s location to unintended persons. Your whereabouts can be pinpointed with relative accuracy and could be dangerous if the information falls into the wrong hands.
While we continue to rip the benefits of location awareness, we constantly need to keep in mind the danger and decide wisely on the information we choose to put out to the public.