I really enjoyed attending last nights mashup* – Being-Location-Aware Event in London’s Docklands, after a busy day with the Street View launch in the UK, it was great to have a few drinks amongst a crowd of geeks 🙂
Privacy was again a major topic of debate, even if the rather self-selecting audience felt is was less of an issue that the media tends to report it. I think we just have to accept that there are valid concerns in particular about an individuals location and we have to be even more transparent about why and how such information is used, and as Gary of Yahoo pointed out make the use of location always an explicit opt-in.
Over time users will develop a better understanding of what sharing their location means in terms of benefits of location aware services against potential privacy costs and will be in the position to make an informed choice.
Of course the most pertinent question remains “Where is the money ?”, almost all agreed that location in itself has little value and has become part of the commodity of web mapping. The real value at the moment I suggest comes from the potential to improve the quality of local services and advertising when location is used as one of the signals to describe a users context, and maybe even their intent.
Written and submitted from the Google Office, London.