IHT on location-awareness

A good read in the IHT today: Wireless: Can mobile phones give you 'presence?' by Thomas Crampton is an article about mobile presence and location awareness. Though this topic received a fair amount of work in HCI research (my PhD diss is about that very topic), it is now more and more common to see it installed in the paysage (landscape). There are more and more systems that provides those features (both on desktop and mobile devices), and Jaiku (one of the system described in this article) is a relevant example for that matter. The article describe Jaiku, Plazes, Whereify... Some excerpts I found interesting about the design choices:

"Mobile phones have already become the hub for communicating by voice, pictures, video and Internet," said Mikko Pilkama, the director of multimedia services at Nokia. "Making phones aware of the context for all these activities is the next logical step." (...) Engestrom said that in setting up Jaiku, it became clear that the sharing of such data also raised privacy concerns. "We make sure that you as the user decide whom you share information with," Engestrom said, adding that individual users own all information stored on Jaiku's servers and can have it deleted at any time. Users also have the option of shutting off the system for privacy. (...) In addition to location-based advertisements, there could be charges for premium features like storing information over longer periods of time, or for sending SMS alerts.

But, of course, things are not simple (as reader of this blog might know):

"I worry that people attribute too deep a meaning to raw information," said Danah Boyd who researches social media at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. (...) An added risk for the location-announcing services is that people might find themselves unable to break away from following friends or old lovers, Boyd added.

"The problem is that people really, really love stalking," Boyd said. "When you have just ended a relationship, it is not necessarily healthy to follow the exact location of your ex- lover minute-by-minute on your phone."

Why do I blog this? nothing really new under the sun here but it seems that Le Web3 (a conference held in Paris last week about technology usage) gave an opportunity to gather relevant people such as Jyri Engestrom and Danah Boyd to discuss their thoughts about LBS with an IHT journalist.