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Yahoo launches Fire Eagle: Gauging my personal ROI

Yahoo has launched Fire Eagle, a location management service that is the latest step in the company's effort to add social networking features to its portfolio of sites and open its platform.The company describes Fire Eagle as a way "to store and manage information about their location, and offers developers clear protocols for updating or accessing that information.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Yahoo has launched Fire Eagle, a location management service that is the latest step in the company's effort to add social networking features to its portfolio of sites and open its platform.

The company describes Fire Eagle as a way "to store and manage information about their location, and offers developers clear protocols for updating or accessing that information. Because it's open, any networked service can use Fire Eagle to respond to a user's location - to help them find their friends, annotate the world or find nearby services or local information."

The service (Techmeme) has certainly generated some initial buzz, but I always wonder about the user payoff. If I get information that's local exactly at the time I need it, Fire Eagle will be handy. I also recognize that geoaware applications will be huge. But am I really only providing information for Yahoo's return?

I'm often skeptical about the location aware thing. Why? I don't have a compelling urge to let the world know where I am at any given moment. Honestly, who--other than my immediate family--gives a rat's arse whether I'm in Philly, San Francisco or New York. Every once in a while broadcasting my location matters, but not all that often. Bottom line: If I'm going to become Mr. Geotargeting I want something in return--better service or a helpful, but not annoying tip. That's the trade-off for me. And right now I'm not all that sure I need to know the latest buzz and news within 1,000 feet of me--sounds like an invitation for more targeted ads and spam.

With Fire Eagle, you can authorize mobile, Web and desktop applications to update location automatically. The user can tweak the settings as needed.

As I was noodling whether there was a Fire Eagle return for me, I tried to take it for a spin. The problem: Fire Eagle was sleeping. I kid you not. Memo to self: Next time you read about some newfangled service that has generated blog buzz wait a day--chances are the new toy will be down.

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