Soon We Will All Be Stalkable

Sorry for the lack of posting over the last few weeks. I had finals and yeah that is ’nuff’ said. Something interesting has been occurring over the last several weeks though with regards to Facebook. I now have just about the entirety of my family whom I communicate with me on Facebook, even my mom and grandmother are now on Facebook. Which is interesting in the since that now my family can follow passively everything that I do online, which is quite a bit.

I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday about this phenomena. The idea that soon you will be able to follow everyone passively with everything that they do online and what happens at that point. First though what needs to happen for this to occur is for all information of what you do online needs to be aggregated, easily and effectively.

This is happening with sites like FriendFeed that take your activities at sites and then displays them for people to see. However the limitation with sites like this is that you will never be able to encompass every single site that a person visits or interacts with.

Leaving a comment on a blog is a perfect example. In most cases the comment that you leave on a site, stays on that site and isn’t associated with you except by you signing the comment as your own. But no where can I go to see all the comments that you left around the web. Disqus, a blog commenting plugin that I use, does aggregate comments across blogs, but there will never be a time that all blogs will have this sort of thing installed, it simply won’t happen. So everything that you do at every site needs to be aggregated.

When that happens, which who knows if it is even possible, it will simply be astounding at the amount of information people will have on each other. Myself you could find out where I am, who I am with, my mood, all kinds of different things simply by analyzing this information. There is a cool site that analyzes your posts to Twitter and pulls out all kinds of information.

Some of the coolest for myself to look at is my Aggregate Hourly Tweets, or how many posts I have in each hour of the day. The weird thing is that I have none basically between the hours of 2 and 6am, so I’m asleep. Also I almost always have a tweet out by 7am except on Sunday which runs to around 9am. However Sunday morning I am still up till around 4 or 5 am. So I’m sleeping somewhere around 4 hours a night every night, even on the weekends, I just shift my sleeping time a few hours.

Or if my sleeping habits aren’t interesting what about what I talk about the most (in no particular order): “work, apartment, bed, facebook, homework”. Somehow for not sleeping all that much I sure do talk about my bed an awful lot. That tells you what my big focuses are in life, and the things that I find the most interesting. Far more interesting and telling seeing what I talk about rather than just what I list in some social networks profile under interests.

It’s not that I don’t have a sense of privacy, I’m actually a very private person, but this is esentially low value information. Why should I care if someone knows that I am going to bed, or working on homework, or out on a date? If they are a friend of mine, I want them to know that sort of information and they may wish to know what I am doing. If they aren’t a friend where is the harm?

Soon it’s not just going be those of us on the cutting edge of technology and early adopters who will be stalkable on the web. Soon we all will be, because soon we will live on the web. Devices such as the iPhone with the ability to have the internet literally in your pocket will be common place. At that point you are going to literally be on the internet easily 12 or more hours a day. You entertainment, shopping, research, communication all will occur through the internet, simply because it’s there. And then sooner then you think you will be stalkable just as much as I am today.

Justin Yost is a full-time Software Engineer and a part time educator. A graduate of Texas Tech University with a bachelor's degree in computer science, Justin relishes programming and learning more about anything and everything. When not working, Justin occasionally gives talks at the local PHP Meetup. In his free time, Justin enjoys backpacking and reading science fiction books.

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