Location-Based Lowlives

January 31st, 2003

Location-Based LowlivesI’ve been envisioning freakish scenarios that are bound to arise soon, when location-aware devices embrace payment and auction systems.

Imagine driving in circles, seeking a parking spot on a busy block in a crowded city. Your device immediately finds four people who are preparing to evacuate parking spaces within a few blocks of you:

  • Ted demands a digital $5 payment before he’ll let his spot go.
  • Jeanine’s parking space is up for auction. She’ll give it up to whoever posts the highest bid by the time she’s ready to leave, three minutes from now.
  • Marcus wants to give his space to a friend. He specified that anyone within two degrees of separation from him in his community of friends and colleagues can claim the spot.
  • Bill will give up his spot too — but in return he demands $40 or twenty-four bottles of Zima.

    Bill the fruit loop has plenty of time to spare and he lives for this crap; he’s prepared to stubbornly hog that parking spot for hours, until someone meets his demands. What happens when Bill and his money-grubbing cronies take over all the public toilets at an outdoor concert? Not even our jiffy-johns are safe from speculating sleazebags.

    I’m exaggerating, but the point stands: we’ll face scenarios where a minority of selfish jerks can use location-aware networked technologies to manufacture new hassles in public spaces. Left unchecked, these are just the sorts of hassles that can draw more lawyers and politicians into the mix, just the sorts of hassles that can eventually prompt lumbering government bureaucracies to enact broad, boneheaded legislation that can hamstring innovation.

    We should think through such scenarios now, and devise strategies for discouraging such abuse long before legislation and litigation rear their ugly heads.

    (Thanks to for inspiring this line of thinking. I love headmap because its authors spend a lot of time just imagining how location-aware technologies will fit into everyday life, then they write up their most intriguing thoughts and scenarios.)

  • Kai 2003

    January 19th, 2003

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    Meet my new housemate, Mr. Kai Jettmar.
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    The Web Meets Reality

    January 19th, 2003

    Who are the people in the neighborhood? Have a look.

    The geourl database brings real-world geography to the nebulous world of Web sites. Add your precise latitude and longitude to the database, then look up your online neighbors. (Tip: Here’s an easy way to find your coordinates: enter your postal address here).

    Snapshots from The Mission

    January 17th, 2003

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    Studio 360: Cognition, Electrodes, Soul

    January 17th, 2003

    gramophoneHuman Computer Interaction audio:
    studio360-cognition.mp3 – 56 minutes, 13 Mb.
    Or stream it in RealAudio from the Studio 360 site.

    Here’s my favorite episode of the radio show Studio 360; it’s a fascinating exploration of the links between art, music, machines and the brain.
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    Trustworthy mechanics in San Francisco?

    January 16th, 2003

    Skip this entry unless you live near San Francisco.

    I was tired of being ripped off so I asked my friends whether they could recommend a mechanic they’re satisfied with. Several friends said they were very happy with their mechanics. I find this hard to imagine, but they actually said they trusted their mechanics too.

    I summarized the recommendations below for everyone else who has to deal with a car in this town.

    (I promise I’m not getting any kickbacks for this!)
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    Groucho vs. Gates

    January 5th, 2003

    Groucho Marx can teach us a lot about Bill Gates.