Google Latitude: students beware

We, the ZDNet bloggers, do indeed practice what we preach. Over the last couple of days, we've been playing around with Google Latitude as a group.

We, the ZDNet bloggers, do indeed practice what we preach. Over the last couple of days, we've been playing around with Google Latitude as a group. As a student, I can see both the upsides and the downsides to this service. But my colleague and friend, Jen Leggio, the so-called "princess of all things social-media", has already expressed her "grumbling nature" at such as service.

As Larry has already explained on Between the Lines, this is another way for Google getting social... but at what cost?

The concept is simple. You can have Google Maps running on your phone, which connects to your mobile network operator and, with your permission, uploads and projects to the world or your close-knit group of friends, either exactly where you are (via GPS) or roughly via the cell tower triangulation.

But would you really want do disclose your precise location to Google and the world?

Knowing that you are not at home for an undisclosed amount of time can lead to security issues within your own house. Not only that, students from time to time like a bit of privacy, and don't want to be disturbed, especially when studying.

But on the other hand, knowing where your friends are if you're on a holiday and lost in a big city would be essential. It's also great for nights out; seeing groups of friends in one area of the city, whilst another group over the other side.

One of the main problems I've seen so far is the data connectivity. To get an accurate location without GPS is to use the in-house mobile triangulation. This requires a data, 3G or GPRS connection to your service provider, which then downloads images to Google Maps on your phone. As you can imagine, this'll cost you quite a bit in the long run.

To keep Latitude running, it'll slowly eat away at your monthly contract and end up costing you your left arm and your first born child.

Do we need another social network, if you could class this as one? Would you concern yourself with the privacy issues? Will this take off, or just add to the Big Brother society? Let me know.

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