Location Based Services are to People as Sheep Dogs are to Herding

Back after a recent laptop crash and insurance replacement with accompaning stress of problems with installing backup to  iMac – bad experience for a otherwise perfect Mac – lots of time for trying to browse my mail on my iPhone ( not good fro updating blogs)  and lots of time for guitar practice -but anyway…two weeks later …. So this article on how we are shaping ourselves via allowing our instruments to tell us where to go, from URBAN TIMES by 

We’re experiencing a culture where people carry around powerful computing devices on a standard basis, typically in the guise of a mobile device. These objects make it seem normal to share everything from the song we just liked on Spotify and the restaurant we’re visiting for dinner to updates that we’re on vacation away from our homes. This mobile technology is reconfiguring our social and urban spaces, creating a geotagged city space, and redefining our meaning of location-based services. More specifically, we not only use location-based services to update our friends of our whereabouts, but also to decide where we should visit based on the opinions of people we care about. In this way, we are transforming location-based services into a type of “social norm” we count on for reinforcing our behaviors and decisions. Thus, we end up herding ourselves by relying onlocation-based services to tell us where to go.

Photo Credit: teamstickergiant/flickr

Once connected, we become addicted to informing our community about almost every facet of our lives and depend on this online community for advice. If you’re not part of the map, you don’t exist. With the persistence of platforms including, but not limited to, TwitterInstagram and the influx of new technologies, the geotagging trend doesn’t appear to be going away anytime in the near future. The amount of enabling technologies and trends that provide more opportunities for us to update behaviors online continues to grow.

(Personal photograph from SantaCon 2011 in Central Park, New York)

One way in which people leverage location-based services is to coordinate social movement. For example, cities across the United States partake in SantaCon, a gathering of thousands of people dressed up like Santa Clause who convene in one meeting place. The first meeting place is announced the morning of the event and from there, the thousands of Santa Clauses travel to various pre-determined locations throughout the city. Participants must rely on social media updates and location based services to learn about the next organized meeting location. In this way, location-based services are quite literally herding people in packs.

As seen with SantaCon, companies and brands are experimenting with these types of tools that influence behavior. B2C businesses must find the right balance leveraging the tools to increase consumer engagement and enhance loyalty. Mobile communication increasingly raises the bar in terms of influential significance, and in this instance, location-based services enrich the meaning of a physical location. Locations are now made meaningful through the ability to connect with others and share information. Store openings, art gallery exhibits, product launches, restaurants and so much more can gain from the ‘herding’ result produced by location-based services. In a nutshell, people continue to move together in groups, and our advanced technologies and capabilities are not changing our very basic human nature, but only enhancing it.

Photo credit: efactormedia/ flickr

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