Yahoo announced FireEagle yesterday, a set of twin APIs for letting you send information about your current location and for letting other applications consume that information at various levels of granularity. The announcement below is worth your time if you're interested in this sort of stuff.

This idea came together for me while reading Halting State by Charlie Stross. The book is about MMORP games that take place in the real world, not on a console or at a computer. They use visual overlays or messages to cell phones to make the game work. Other overlays exist; a policeman wearing his goggles sees waypoints and indicators on the street for directions, as well as information about various buildings: e.g., who lives there, crimes committed, etc. Let me say at this point that my fascination and interest in this stuff requires me to both muzzle and kennel the privacy watchdog side.

Reading the book I was struck not by what a great idea that was but how close we are to it. Google and Amazon already provide some of that data for big cities. The iPhone and similar devices can send your location and consume feedback in a usable way. The real trick, as always, won't be getting data, but sifting through the data for useful bits. If nothing else, it'll be an interesting way to meet people. There are a number of Metafilter and Sportsfilter members in New Hampshire, but I've never met any of them.  Given Metafilter supports Friend of a Friend markup, what's to stop a service from texting me to tell me another site member is within a few hundred feet in downtown Portsmouth? (Again, try not to think of the privacy implications-- if you haven't committed a crime, what do you have to hide, right?)

The other thing I got out of the video was a new word, spime: "a theoretical object that can be tracked precisely in space and time over the lifetime of the object".  I'm off to read Bruce Sterling's original thoughts around the concept.

And hooray for my first proper blog post.