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Showing posts from August, 2010

Here Come the Blobs!

Now that iPhones and Androids have catalyzed a vibrant ecosystem of services that allow you to check in to places like Starbucks, doesn’t it seem likely that a next logical step will be the ability to check in to people?  Such a feature would be the social equivalent of gravity, incentivizing people to form and maintain proximity clusters or blobs.  

I’ve already seen a version of this feature in the wild - in RL!  Way back when I was a kid spending summers at Latvian Camp we’d often play a game called Blob, essentially group tag.  Each iteration would start with one person designated as “it”.  Their goal then was to capture additional people, each time adding them to the ever growing blob.  The game would end with a large swarm of kids spreading out the blob in a line to trap the final speedy kid in a corner of the playing field.  

Now imagine an app called Blob, loosley based on the same principles.  The app would reward people for 1) checking in to other friends’ cell …

The Acceleration of Gaming

Life must be lived as play. ~ Plato

Fueled by provocative presentations/posts by gaming-oriented thinkers like Jesse Schell, SCVNGR’s Patrick Seth Priebatsch and VC Bing Gordon, the idea that games are spreading into serious areas like work, transportation, shopping and health is finally beginning to spread to the masses.  Of course, like most ideas, this concept has been around for a very long time, taking on various forms.  We can trace it back to iterations like Justin Hall’s Passive Gaming, Zyda’s spin on Serious Games, Wolfram’s work on Cellular Automata, John Nash’s Game Theory, MIlton Bradley’s The Game of Life (1860 - later associated with cellular automata) and even statements made by Plato like the one above.  

But games have been around even far longer than humans have been aware of them.  Thinkers like Wolfram and Nash argue, convincingly, that games are baked into nature itself and originated perhaps billions of years ago, certainly when organisms appeared and bega…

An app for every tree in Central Park by 2015?

Sometimes I like to think of humans carrying smartphones as Imperial Probe Droids capable of quantifying the world around us.  After all, millions of prosumers use these devices to snap photos, record audio, shoot video, map the position of things and even record our paths.  Smartphones can and do double as truly capable reconnaissance tools.



Much of the information collected through smartphones is then made available on the internet where it can be pulled into a variety of very useful graphs, web pages and applications.  There is tremendous business, consumer, and social demand in place to incentivize these flows.  This pull force is getting stronger as we collectively discover new ways to unlock the value of this data.

A powerful example of this effect is Google Earth.  Since its birth as Keyhole (2001), Google acquisition (2004) and ongoing evolution, Google Earth has steadily added content and increased its resolution.  One can now view weather, traffic and demographic …

Waze Releases Groups Feature, Social Positioning Takes Another Step Forward

Waze, the start-up that crowd-sources map creation and refinement by turning it into a game for smartphone users, has added a killer new feature to its latest release - Waze Groups.  A next logical step in the LBS app feature war, grouping now allows Waze cliques such as families taking trips, friends organizing pub crawls, cab companies mapping cab positions, road builders transforming terrain, realtors coordinating their sales agents, and so forth, to map and view their respective positions in real-time.  Members of Waze groups can also view status updates posted by group members so that messages that pertain to their experience can be shared intuitively.

All in all, this appears to be a smart strategic move by company looking to up its influx of user generated content while at the same time grabbing a bigger chunk of the LBS market.  Expect to see more and more advanced geo-grouping features from companies like Foursquare, Gowalla, MyTown, Loopt, Yelp, etc, in the near future.  Mos…