Basic human needs: meaningful connection vs. privacy

According to the pundits, the hottest technology to emerge in 2012 will be location-aware personal discovery applications. What does this mean? It means that there is technology being launched whose sole purpose is to put you together, in both the digital realm, and more importantly, the real physical world, with others who share your interests.

Apps in this vein, which are already in the app stores and markets, and which are getting great positive reviews by tech thought leaders, include such apps as highlight, Glancee, Sonar and Banjo.Highlight & Glancee

So what does this technology do? How does it work? Once you’ve downloaded the app, it typically asks you to login via facebook. Why you ask? So that the app can scan your friends lists and your interests and then make telling connections between your friend/interests, and others and let you know whose close by using location-aware services on your phone. Basically, it will tell you when people are physically near you who share your interests. In some cases, this is pulled from your list of pre-existing facebook friends. In other cases, you’re being introduced to people who you do not yet know, but the software figures you might want to.

If you’re going to a conference like SXSW, or have just moved to a new city and want to meet new folks, it sounds great right? But wait, what about the fact that your socially-enthusiastic teenager has access to this very same person-to-person recommendation engine? Do you want her reaching out to everyone who shares her taste in Eminem? Or even M&Ms? Or even more unnerving to her parents, having her being approached by strangers who happen to be introduced to her via one of these emerging services? Only time will tell if this type of technology has broader application among later adopters of technology

If services like this are to gain traction, privacy concerns will ultimately have to be addressed. Where do you net out? Is privacy worth reducing if it means more meaningful human connections?

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4 thoughts on “Basic human needs: meaningful connection vs. privacy

  1. Thanks Bill. How does a company use this technolgy to market products? How do FB interests result in a product sale, in my case a fincial product?

    • Tom, what a great question. Frankly, no one has the answer yet since this tech is so new. I would imagine that this tool could be used very effectively for high end investors at, say, an investor conference, to generate connections or leads. For consumer-facing financial services brands, especially ones who sell through a broker sales channel, the options seem less apparent. I’d look to American Express or Capital One to lead the charge on leveraging new tech like this since they’ve demonstrated a willingness to step outside their traditionally conservative marketing approaches in the last few years.

      But, bottom line, like most social media, these location-aware tools aren’t made for brand marketers, they’re made for consumers, and so marketers will have to experiment to find out how their business model can be supported by social media tools.

      • Thanks Bill. In general marketing, I like your reference to a ‘conference’. Specifically, these technologies could work really well at B2B trade shows ….ie ‘find us at booth #100 or wandering the halls with this app’. Publishers could have some fun with this too, use to find “who is near you reading the same book” and create impromptu virtual book clubs on a train or in a park.

  2. Pingback: Multimedia Chat Points to Future Online Behavior « Hewson Group: Next

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