Tuesday, March 16, 2010

(empo-tuulwey) (empo-tymshft) The intersection of physical and virtual locations

If you are one of the small minority of people who read this blog, you probably exist in two locational spaces - the physical locational space (Ontario California, the Moscone Center, whatever) and the virtual locational space. In my brain, virtual locations are just as real as physical locations. I traveled to Blogger to write this post. It's partially sourced from something that appeared in my Facebook feed (from Louis Gray's FriendFeed account).

But the real money - literally - appears to be coming from that...um, place where the physical and virtual locational spaces intersect. In the course of a post at Stardust Global Ventures, Ken Camp talked about the intersection of the two. He started with a swipe at Robert Scoble:

We might observe that the greatest use of these tools today so that the Digerati/Twitterati web celebs (@Scobleizer and others in that visibility sphere) share their location so fawning hordes of fans can come touch the robes of the elite. That’s not the only use, but perhaps the biggest and most visible use today. There’s nothing monetizable in those egos, and there is no sustainability.

I'm trying to imagine Robert Scoble in a robe. If he had one, I bet it would be shiny and new.

Of course, what's bad for Robert Scoble is good for Ken Camp. But let's look at what Camp does with the tools:

Sheryl and I use these services extensively to check-in because we’re business and technology leaders in our community, and heavily engaged in the global tech sector. That means friends around the world know when we’ve checked in at Walla Walla Java Hut. For people in our community, they’ll also know that we’re friends of the owners, Brad and Cameo. They know we’re likely to be there chatting for a while and they can stop by to say hi, have coffee, ask a question. In short, we’ve made it easy for colleagues, clients and others to be in touch with us. We use LBS to lower the barrier to access.

No word on what robe Camp wears when the adoring masses approach him to stroke his ego.

But enough of my griping. For Camp, the strength of the tools comes from their ability for people in the virtual world to meetup in the physical world. This, of course, is nothing new - long before Foursquare and Gowalla existed, you had meetup.com. And many years before meetup.com, around 1990 or so, members of the Grotto BBS and other BBS systems would leave their virtual worlds and rendezvous in the physical world to drink cold brown thingies.

Now the technology has allowed advances in the way this is done. Back in 1990, I would have to get on my computer, find out about the event, leave my computer, go to the event, and then go back home to write about it. Such restrictions no longer exist - with laptops and cellphones, we can continue to communicate while at the event itself. In 2007, I could write a picture blog post from the Thirsty Bear during the Oracle OpenWorld blogger meetup. By 2009, Foursquare (via Twitter and FriendFeed) was the communication method of choice.

Of course, the intersection of the physical and virtual worlds is but the first step - the next step is monetization. For more on that, read the rest of Ken Camp's post.

What does McDonald’s get in return? They sell another cup of coffee and a hot apple pie? Wahoo. Why not do something more? Why not partner with one or more location based services and tie free WiFi to a check-in? Why not work a deal that delivers some demographic metadata that tells me this set of 30 customers comes in every week on Thursday? And given LBS profiles, let me know more about them so I can upsell them on a quarter pounder while I’m at it? Or something more?
blog comments powered by Disqus