October 05, 2004

Where's Chris?

Chris Heathcote has hacked together a feature on his website which reports his current position via his mobile phone. Yes, that means anyone can find out where Chris is at any given time. Of course, when Matt checked he was several kilometres into the Baltic from Helsinki, but right now he appears to be getting on or off a tram, in the rain. What I find curious is how knowing this immediately makes me think of Chris shielding me from the London rain this past spring, and I smile. It’s such a lovely way to draw out a series of movements and memories in space and time.

And I agree with Matt - Chris’ experiment is valuable to anyone working on ubicomp or locative media. As he explains:
“A bigger question is why publish this information in public. I must admit I’m not overly happy with giving everyone access to this data, but then again, this kind of service is the near-future that designers like myself have been preaching for years. It will cause privacy problems, it will cause social embarassment, it may change the way I live. Unless I try it myself, I will never know what unexpected consequences publishing this information will have. Self-ethnography is not scientifically valid, but I think it’s one of the best ways of empathising with the problems new technology creates. If I won’t use it, I shouldn’t expect you to either.”

[more at Anne’s site | more at Chris’ site]