I’ve been using Plazes for nearly a year and never had anyone I didn’t know show up where I was at. Until I stopped in the old Aula space (nowadays called Café Java) here in Helsinki to access the free wifi, and noticed a user named Bronek was there too. Curious, I checked his blog. As he was writing about interesting stuff, I emailed him just to say hello. Five minutes later the fellow sitting at the table next to me turned around and introduced himself as Bronek. We both thought it was a pretty geeky (in the fun sense!) way to meet.
Meeting Bronek reminded me about the logical step of integrating place information to IM. This would turn IM into a tool for initiating spontaneous face-to-face encounters. It would be in line with the quest for ‘enhanced social peripheral vision’ that IM is all about.
So, for a start, how about adding a Place list to iChat? It would display my favourite hangouts, and list the users who are currently logged in at those places (to manage privacy, there could be a menu: ‘make my location public’ / ‘allow only buddies to see my location’ / ‘keep my location private’). When I notice a person I don’t know at place where I regularly go, I’d like to be able to pull up their blog by right-clicking on their name. It could look something like this:
Further down the road, with a bit of RSS integration it’d be nice to glance at other online users’ public feeds (to see their latest bookmarks, blogroll, readings, music, etc.)
Similarly, it’d be nice to access/edit a map, tags, and other annotations by clicking on the place.