On the left, Google Latitude (February 2009)
On the right, dodgeball on Google Maps Mobile (August 2006)
(even the placement of the dots is eerily similar - ha!)
A few of you guys pinged me on what I thought of the Latitude launch. A few thoughts:
+ I was actually hoping to see a little more more of dodgeball in Latitude. Latitude is pretty generic, but I guess you have to be when you're trying to appeal to everyone (27 countries!). I am actually pretty psyched that the whole friends-as-dots-on-a-map thing has officially gone mainstream and its cool to think that Alex and I played a bit part in that story. :)
+ I don't think this form of mobile + social is that interesting. Knowing someone is approx in the East Village is different than knowing that "Kevin K. @ No Malice Palace (with 12 others)". Venues are important, context is important, history is important. I think the reason dodgeball was interesting was because we were specifically trying to build tools to make nightlife better (and thinking beyond just "right now" or "tonight"). Lots of people, lots of places... and *actively* trying to connect all these dots on a map in ways that they wouldn't connect on their own. I don't think Latitude is (or is ever going to) look at the world this way (though maybe developers can fix that with help of an API?)
+ I think when mobile + social plays try to do the "everywhere" thing, things can't help but to start feeling generic. There's some features you just can't pull off without being able to consistently rely on a high density of both people and places. And when you're only dealing with big cities you get to take that for granted. Not to show our cards too early, but FourSquare is not going to be an "everywhere" play. We're focusing on the big cities (think: dodgeball ver. 1.0) and we're trying to build things that make those cities easier and more fun to use.
Okay, back to work. (about a month 'till SXSW :)