The following is a guest post by James Mowery.
Though it may seem that geo-location is the latest technology trend to enter the realm of social media on the Internet, the origins can be traced to the summer of 2006 in Manhattan. Game developer area/code debuted Plundr at the “Come Out and Play” street festival in New York. Plundr was a pirate adventure game that utilized Wi-Fi Positioning System and it mapped the players’ location in real time.
In 2010, geo-location is causing quite a stir in the social media networks. The predominant technology is GPS. Other technologies used include: geocaching, Wi-Fi Positioning, IP address location, and data mining. Smartphones and other location-aware devices are enabling the prevalence of geo-location into social media. Social networking applications and websites that feature geo-location prominently are often labeled location-based services.
Foursquare seems to be leading the charge as a location-based service and social network. The motto for Foursquare seems to be “Check In”. The act of “checking in” is Foursquare’s main activity. Registered members can enable their location-aware smartphones, cell phones, or netbooks to broadcast their location whenever they arrive at different places such as cafes, bookstores, bars, etc. Foursquare users can follow others on the network, share notes about their observations and activities in the different places, and even play games and earn badges that can eventually give them the honor of becoming the “Mayor” of their favorite business establishment. Business owners can take advantage of Foursquare’s social game platform in order to offer coupons, discounts, or freebies to patrons who earn badges or who become Mayors of their storefront.
There are other emerging social media networks that are touting their clever use of geo-location technologies in order to attract more members. Gowalla, Yelp, and Google’s Latitude are a few examples. Even current social media giants Facebook and Twitter are becoming more location-aware. We can expect that in the near future it will only become easier for social media users to find out exactly where their friends are, at any time.