Back in the last century I participated in a New Directions for News workshop. We had one of those future-scenario breakout sessions, and my group sat down to design a new media product for 2010. Chris Mahai was our group leader, and she took us down an interesting, "jobs to be done" path (long before Innosight started throwing the phrase around). What would our lives be like in 2010?
We were following the optimistic scenario, so we'd all be semi-wealthy, self-branded, self-employed consultants with homes in the south of France, and we'd have all sorts of info-problems keeping up with what we need to know: the news, of course, but also our schedules, what's going on with our friends and relatives, et cetera.
So we dreamed up the ultimate personalized infobroker, and called it MOM, for "My Own Matrix." MOM would monitor all the infosources and let us know what we needed to know. MOM very quickly took on a personality in our minds, and gained new capabilities. Through the universal MOM-to-MOM protocol, she could help plan our lives, pay our bills, arrange golf and romantic partners ... you name it. MOM would "live" in the network, not in a device, but she'd be constantly connected through our wireless PDA-phones and would always know our location.
Immediately we realized MOM needed an off-switch. Maybe I don't really want MOM to know everything.
I thought of that today when I read a report that Boost Mobile will be offering a service that lets you track the physical locations of your friends. This raises all sorts of privacy implications, of course. But, like Dodgeball.com, it gets right to the heart of the jobs-to-be-done information needs of an important part of any local market. Once again, the future is here, just unevenly distributed.
Update: Seamus McCauley notes a UK-based mobile locator service called BuddyPing.