Twenty-four hours ago, I was playing with IndyJunior and wishing I could add more real-time data to the map or share the data with someone in more ways than just a hover with text information (date, name, note). Ask the Internet and you shall receive. Visit plazes, “a grassroot approach to location-aware interaction, using the local network you are connected to as location reference. Plazes allows you to share you location with the people you know and to discover people and plazes around you. It’s the navigation system for your social life and it’s absolutely free.”
It seems like the site has a mostly European audience at this time. Once you signup, you can start discovering and claiming different locations, customize your profile page, invite friends to join, view other members, search by surrounding distance to see who’s online, and you can even tag your photos in Flickr and pull them into Plazes. There are also a number of ways to display your data including an IndyJunior map showing the last 30 days, 60 days, and so on. I love it when web apps evolve based on previous favorites.
What I liked about this idea is that it’s location-awareness based on physical places. You can’t add a new plaze unless you are at a new location and “the launcher” detects that your router’s address has changed. Having only discovered one plaze, I can already see the potential of this type of interaction. The virtual environment is now encouraging me to engage in real interaction – both to venture out into the city and world to find new places that have not yet been discovered and to create a historical record of the places I frequent for others to share, interact, or communicate.
Plazes and social software
We like to consider Plazes next generation social software. Obviously, any kind of interaction system involving people is social software. Lately the term has been coined towards ‘six-degrees-of-separation’ software like friendster or orkut. Plazes takes it to the next level regarding location-awareness and impliciteness. The Plazes you are frequenting are actually a much better filtering system and common denominator than explicit connections like “he is my friend”. By being virtually present at certain Plazes like a record label or a certain restaurant and having conversations via comments at that Plaze, the system is much closer to how we actually interact in the real world. By being able to annotate real world locations virtually, Plazes augments, enhances and encourages real-world communication rather than simulating it. Nevertheless, Plazes does allows you to declare other users as friends. This simply means that you trust the person in regard of your personal information. Plazes allows you to specify for every bit of profile information wether it’s visible only to your friends or to everybody. Unlike with friendster and the likes, you cannot see who your friend’s friends are.
I’ve signed up and you can now see where I am.