Google Latitude - Guest BLOG

By: Brandon Omohundro
By: Brandon Omohundro

A few days ago Google launched a new feature to their maps application called Latitude. It basically allows you to share your location with friends and family.

**This is a Guest BLOG by Brandon Omohundro - WKYT's Webmaste**

A few days ago Google launched a new feature to their maps application called Latitude. It basically allows you to share your location with friends and family.

I'll be honest, my first reaction when I heard about it was, "Nope, No Way, Not for Me" but it was too late, my curiosity was piqued. Next thing I know I am adding the widget to my Google homepage and constantly checking the availability of the iPhone app.

What changed my mind? I began to realize that location sharing could actually be really helpful. For example the other day my wife and I were having friends over for dinner. They were running behind and the food was ready. I felt bad calling to ask when they would arrive but we didn't want the food to get cold either. If we had had Latitude I could have pulled out my phone and known they were about 5 minutes away.

Now I am not a parent but I would imagine most parents, especially those parents who have just begrudgingly handed over the car keys to their 16 year olds, will be installing Latitude faster than you can say, "buuuut mom."

The possibilities are endless:
- Avoid meeting at 2 restaurants with the same name on opposite sides of town.
- Know when friends are out of town.
- Did a family member's plane land on time?
- Check to see if your spouse is stuck in traffic/at the office.
- Keep tabs on an untrustworthy significant other (Can't wait to see this one on "Cheaters")

Of course, not all of the possibilities are positive. We live in an increasingly connected world and sometimes it would be nice just to go "off the grid." What happens when an employee takes a sick day to go out of town? Or that overly needy friend just happens to notice you are "in the neighborhood."

Forgetting who can see your location is sure to be a problem for some. Don't tell your wife you are catching up on some paper work at the office when your Latitude enabled phone mysteriously shows up at the driving range. You will have some 'splainin to do.

What about someone getting hurt or killed because a stalker can see where he or she is at all times? Google says they have taken precautions to prevent this by implementing privacy controls. However, privacy controls only work when used properly.

As with any online presence it has to be the responsibility of the users to protect themselves. If you use this tool, use it wisely. Learn the privacy options. Be selective about who can see your location. Keep your friend list up to date you may not want certain people to know your location anymore (i.e. that untrustworthy significant other post Cheaters episode).

I am using it now and plan to maintain the service but there will probably be no more than about 5 people that I will allow to see this information. I would like to keep my exciting life of travelling between work and home somewhat of a mystery for others.

Where do you, the readers, stand?
- Is having big brother watching worth the convenience or is it too much of a Pandora's box?
- Are the privacy controls enough?
- Will location sharing catch on or is the technological equivalent to Crystal Pepsi?

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