dodgeball vs. Google Latitude? (at least now we know why they're phasing out good 'ol dball)

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    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 :)

    metafy, rachelsklar, tlimongello, and 6 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. bisceglie 63 months ago | reply

      agree 100%

      the case against everything buckets applies here as well: al3x.net/2009/01/31/against-everything-buckets.html

    2. -- Slavin 63 months ago | reply

      funny -- I was just prepping for an interview tomorrow in which I was going to take this very position... so you may hear a different version of this shortly...

    3. rachelsklar 63 months ago | reply

      Though I've been next to Dodgeball since before it was sold to Google, I've only been using it for the past few weeks (since Google announced the shut-down). I always knew it was innovative and clever, but seeing it in action over even this short time has been sort of mind-blowing - the convenience and efficiency of it all, as well as the community. It only solidifies my opinion, expressed here, that it was a service worth preserving and building on. Google Latitude looks cool - it's basically like a Marauder's Map for the world! - but what's missing is what Dennis expressed above, which is the sense of joining friends, a sense of finding a place where you'll be welcome. That's sort of a crucial difference. Dennis makes reference above to providing a new way to enjoy our cities; I think it goes a step further and provides a new way to enjoy your friends.

      I still think Google was silly to buy a great company, ignore it, and then try to replicate it but more boringly. Oh well.

    4. innonate 63 months ago | reply

      Notice the spelling of "FourSquare...." Ahhh.... Hmmmm.....

    5. everyplace 63 months ago | reply

      Don't you think really that Latitude is such a simple service (i.e. a significant lack of social services) because it's designed to be more or less exactly like Yahoo's FireEagle, except by google? In other words, use it as a location-based platform to roll your own social services?

    6. joshc 63 months ago | reply

      does every phone really have always-on location broadcasting? given that latitude doesn't really (yet) work with the mainstreamest of smartphones, it seems problematic right from the start. What I love about dodgeball is that it works for *everyone* with SMS (which is pretty much everyone). I don't want to restrict my location-based social networking only to nerds with the nerdiest phones.

      which is all a long way of saying that I really hope that Seattle is part of FourSquareland.

    7. LBCXD 63 months ago | reply

      Dodgeball 3.0

    8. lisaeeeee 63 months ago | reply

      And further to @joshc's point, does every user WANT always-on location broadcasting? I certainly don't, even if my phone is capable of it.

    9. dpstyles™ 63 months ago | reply

      @joshc, @lisa - passive tracking looks so much better on paper than it works in real life. any dodgeball user out there can easily tell you a story about a time when they had to make a decision about whether to check in or not based on their current social context or about a time they specifically chose *not* to check-in because of present company / a certain someone being nearby, etc.

      because most phones don't support it, most mobile + social apps don't do passive tracking - which is a good thing. (dodgeball was opt-in, Loopt / Brightkite - even though they both use GPS - still require you to press a "submit" button.) The Google/Android phone is one of the first mainstream devices that can run apps in the background - something that constantly checking and updating your location while it's in your pocket. and the ability to do that is brand new and will bring big changes for the mobile + social space. (part of the reason I want to get back in this game)

      i haven't played with the Android app yet, so I'm not sure how they treat this - is "auto-update my location" the default setting? (oh god, what a disaster) or are they encouraging people to click an "i am here" button to update their location from the start?

      ... anyway, if you read a lot of the blog coverage for this stuff, the people that are really fired up about it are looking at it from the 'oh, now I know where my wife and kids are" perspective ("location as presence" instead of "location as whereabouts", if that makes any sense).

      If Twitter is the ultimate "presence" app, Latitude is like being able to filter your Twitter feed for just your closest friends / family and then only see the tweets about their location updates (which is kind of what dodgeball was like in relation to Twitter... a filtered back-channel that was reliably more about location updates then "stream of consciousness" updates). And I think that's a good thing (and why I think there's still room for something like dodgeball - e.g. FourSquare :) - in this space)

      Anyway, I am still pretty down on passive location tracking as a default. Not to sound sketchy, but I think a lot of people underestimate how often they rely on innocent white lies - where are you? ("home!"), what are you doing? ("nothing!"). Always-on, passive location tracking takes a little of this away from you... what's next, auto-updating Twitter? ("Ssh, but Dennis isn't reallllly being productive... he's at home in his PJs fucking around on Flickr" :)

    10. dpstyles™ 63 months ago | reply

      @joshc - and yes on Seattle. email / FlickrMail me for beta. :)

    11. rmrudy 63 months ago | reply

      hey is there actually a wreck room in manhattan? the only one i know is in bushwick...just curious.

      sorry, i don't have anything insightful to say on the latitude/dodgeball issue that you haven't already said. completely agreed that it's obfuscating to build a better nightlife when it's just rough coordinates.

    12. @MSG 63 months ago | reply

      FourSerious can you hook me up with the beta already :)

    13. officiallyrad 63 months ago | reply

      Sounds like you guys are putting together an interesting product! Are you presenting or speaking at SXSW, or just going to show it off?

    14. adamgreenfield 63 months ago | reply

      @dpstyles you more than anyone know it's always about plausible deniability and the membrane of protective hypocrisy, about generating lots of chaff & window, about fogging the results.

      I can't imagine Android shipping with high-resolution passive location as a default - we know that way lies madness. But just because I can't imagine it doesn't mean someone over there isn't autistic enough to try it. The people I know at Google personally definitely get it, but I don't get the sense that they're in any way the majority.

    15. dpstyles™ 63 months ago | reply

      @ officiallyrad - we'll be at SXSW (I'm speaking on Adam Simon's panel on Tuesday). btw, hot flickr name!

      @adam - gosh, can you imagine how much worse inaccurate passive tracking would be?? (e.g. on my first attempt at using Latitude on iGoogle, it warped me from my East Village coffee shop to the Upper East Side). I'm trying to imagine a map full of moving dots of where my friends are *supposed* to be, but everyone's 50 pixels / 3-4 blocks off due to wonky location detection. :)

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