In January 2007, I wrote about what I wanted out of software and mobile devices. I called it my Ghost
My Ghost has communication to the core. It reflects my status and copies that to all of my applications. When Iâ€™m busy, I set it to BUSY and it handles all of my email, voicemail and instant messages. When I am available it allows them to come through. When talking on the phone, it changes my status to â€œon the phoneâ€ and when Iâ€™m busy playing â€œJet Set Willy for GHOSTâ€, it rightfully changes my status to â€œIn a meetingâ€. When Iâ€™m available, I want it to retrieve my GPS co-ordinates and use them as a tag so that my buddies and colleagues can see where I am. For when Iâ€™m somewhere I shouldnâ€™t be, I want to be able to switch that off too
Of course, a few days later Apple announced the iPhone, which began to seem relatively prescient. It would take another 18 months for iPhone to have GPS or third party software which would enable all of this, but I can see it on the horizon for the first time.
Half a year ago, Chris Brogan wrote some science fiction:
Chrisâ€™s context engine has 3 favorite orders for this particular coffeeshop chain. He clicks the second option on his phone, and waits to collect it, making smalltalk with the server. Meanwhile, the context engine has noticed that 14 friends within 5 minutes distance of the coffeeshop have revealed status and location information favorable for a visit. The engine offers up a â€œmeetupâ€ option, with checkboxes next to each personâ€™s name. Chris selects 3 of the 5 and invites them by for coffee and a chat.
When you see demos like Loopt which was on stage at WWDC coming to iPhone soon, you realise how close to the real world this all is.
I need software that will allow me to manage my attention, retain my memory, enhance my judgement:
More than just minding my eBay (I don’t use eBay) but telling me when friends are nearby and when their status isn’t set to ‘Do Not Disturb’, reminding me at opportune times (like when I’m in town or at a mall) that I need to buy a birthday present for someone, allowing me to set thresholds which are contextual (like telling me that I’m “twenty minutes at 30 mph” away from the next meeting and I really should get my skates on.)
We have persistent network links, we have GPS, we have social networks, we have electronic funds transfer and we have location-based mashups of all of this. Everyone is throwing in their little bits and it absolutely gobsmacks me that GAMY haven’t jumped on this. Especially Yahoo.
We do have to consider the security and privacy aspects:
Some people don’t want this. Yeah, well, don’t turn it on. It’s a bit like complaining about privacy breaches on FaceBook. If you’re worried at all about your privacy, don’t put your data in there because your friends are the liability here and will likely give out all sorts of personal information.
I’m not worried about services which show my location to friends because, if they’re on my friends list then I don’t mind them knowing and as long as I’m where I’m meant to be, what’s the problem?
As for security, again – don’t use the service if you’re nervous about your security being compromised. Don’t put your birthday, the names of your kids and dog and other personal information on the net if you’re unsure about the safety, that’s just asking to have your identity compromised.
Now, we just need someone to build it.