The Time, The Place....

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New Social Networking sites appear all the time nowadays, but I must admit to being at least faintly concerned about a new site currently in Beta called "Plazes" (spot the play on words).

There isn't a great deal of information on the site at present, but from looking at it, the whole concept seems to take the idea of Twitter - constant stream of information about your day to day business - then tie it up with software that seems to pinpoint your every move.

If I'm wrong, please tell me - but wow, this sort of creeps me out. Check out the main homepage:


Click to Enlarge

"Create activities to let your friends know what you are doing, when and where" reads the header. Below, you can see some kind of Google Maps integration with a specific location mentioned. "Automatically create activities and update your location", says a blurb next to a link for "The Plazer" software for your PC.

From what I can gather, the technology has been around since at least 1995 in the form of mobile phone applications and the like. Deciding to tie it into a Social Networking site would seem to be the next logical step, but I am concerned that taking so much detailed personal information (because really, you can't get anything more personal and detailed than your exact physical location) and wrapping it up into a "Social web-to-go" (as they call it), spells potential disaster when faced with users of social networking sites who will simply go "Oh wow" at the features without bothering to think of potential safety hazards.

Am I worrying over nothing? Or will people be so seduced by the clever technology that they won't stop to think that pasting their every movement to the web might not be the brightest of ideas?


Goodevening Christopher,

I have been following and researching this web 2.0 and social networking mashup craze for a while. I admit I came in a little early into the race for enabling my human identity on some of these pages...

I have several identities on the web but I always follow privacy and security, then practicality as my reasons for adding a Web 2.0 tool to my bag. If you search my name I only come up as profiles in Plaxo, Facebook, Answerbag, and Meetup. I aplaud Facebook on some aspects when the developemnt has been driven towards ganular privacy control.

Plazer uses the same technology as TeleNav, Boost's Mobile "Where You at?" for the cellphone. And Dodgeball is similar in that the service notifies your friends of your location and your friends get notified of your vicinity.

The danger is if your profile ever gets hacked either by a girlfriend or ex-friend or accessed by cops and/or secret service then they easily know your whereabouts without going through cell phone triangulation and cell registry database tracking (depending on the real-time factor).

Plazer would be the personal/social version of Dopplr. Dopplr is a service for business travelers to update other business friends there trip location, based off of the user profile in Dopplr.

In summary:
I think people these days are "whooed" into the "bling" of technology. And most people don't figure in privacy or security as a factor. We security gurus have to keep on explaining to the public in their terms why it's important. I think a service like this is private and secure when the service is closed to search API's; accessible only within it's proprietary network, meaning only members would know the location and others would have to sign up; and the service with the database is encrypted in a physically locked down facility.

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This page contains a single entry by Christopher Boyd published on June 30, 2008 4:52 PM.

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