One of the most interesting trends emerging is that technology is coming around to do a better job of connecting people in real life. Social networking sites started this by gathering information on people and then letting you connect the dots of who is your friend and who isn’t. Now there’s an emergence of sites like Gowalla, Foursquare, and Loopt that are enabling you to catch up with people in real life. Not only that, but with Gowalla and Foursquare, there’s a gaming aspect as well. Games are no longer just mobile, they’re location aware.
One of the biggest capabilities of this is how you can much more easily organize a group of people for going out. You can find people you know nearby and catch up with them. You can see price specials and suggestions about where you are. You’re no longer just recreating your social network (your real one) online, you’re enhancing your real world interactions. While previously we had focused on connecting to each other online, now we’re in the infancy of using location based networks to connect us in real life.
This is certainly going to be an interesting trend to watch. As the online networks become increasingly interconnected, it’ll be interesting to see how companies are able to synthesize that information and make recommendations based off of it. Maybe we’ll see friend recommendations based on location (which is actually a good predictor of friendship) and other synthesized information. We’re also finally witnessing networks that actually pull people together in real life. While previously everyone marveled at the capability to connect with people around the world (and that is a great feature), maybe it’s about time we thought about how to better connect to our friends right around the corner.