Human Tracking

The mobile revolution has enabled some supposed new forms of human behavior. The ability to leave a footprint of everywhere we go is one of these. As is our ability to geo-locate ourselves with a ‘check in’ and even share this information with whomever we chose.

A lot of people I talk to tell me it is weird and the mobile web going to far. Personally, I feel it is nothing new. It’s just a new iteration of existing human behavior which probably hasn’t changed in centuries. They also say it has massive implications on privacy and that new forms of communication are putting the private lives of all people into question. But there is a simple fact about privacy which straddles all communication – and that is this:

The idea of communication and privacy are naturally juxtaposed to each other.

This means that every iteration in our ability to communicate, takes an equal amount of privacy away. The reason we continue to chose connection over privacy is simple: Improved communications improves the living standards of our species.

Why is geo-locating not weird: Sure, we’ve had and used maps for centuries to guide us. But even the simple idea of a cave painting or a book is a form of geo-locating. It is telling a story of what we saw or what we found, or where we were. I’m sure this process of documenting our experience in these forms seemed weird when it first arrived. The only differences a geo-locating mobile device has is accuracy and immediacy.

How does communications improve the human plight: Knowing more, leads to all of us either having more, or access to more. Sharing, collaborating and specialization is a way to reduce scarcity and increase efficiency. We intuitively share data and lessons because we know subconsciously it is what puts as atop of the food chain. The challenge in the short term is coping psychologically with new methods which seem out of place.

We have a choice: Ultimately these ‘so called weird’ behaviours of sharing, collaborating and pinpointing our location and activities are chosen ones. We can choose not to do any of it. We can chose not to participate in the culture. But as mentioned in my previous post, this will chose to self exclude most often leads to reduced self opportunity and benefits.

Human tracking is a normal and historically relevant activity to improved civilization and living standards. While recent technology has given it a jolt in what is possible, my advice is simple: we are all better off when we embrace the evolution and share in the benefits.


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