How does it feel to know that your every movement for the last nine months has been tracked and recorded? You'd think that the revelation that the iPhone (and iPad 3G) is secretly storing your whereabouts would unnerve me. That it's not is a sign of how the old barriers protecting your privacy don't exist anymore.
Don't get me wrong: This is a serious privacy breach. Suddenly, there's a way for anyone to know exactly where you go and when you go there, virtually revealing your daily routine instantly. The possibilities for misuse are endless.
Still, the first thing I thought when I saw it was: How can I try it? (On myself, of course.)
The Mac application is virtually idiot-proof; it automatically scans for the location file and then displays a map with a whole bunch of circles, representing the cell sites you were connected to. Here's a part of the map showing my travels in Tokyo.
The map shows me at Narita airport. When I zoomed in on the dark blue cluster in central Tokyo, it shows me going from my hotel in Roppongi Hills to hunting for a Pancake Milkshake in Ginza to geeking out in Akihabara. It shows me visiting a convention center for the Tokyo Game Show. I have no idea what the cluster of red circles in the middle are, but everything else is accurate.
I've been asked several times why I was comfortable with showing my location information on air. (I was prepared to show my Hong Kong map too, but we felt the Tokyo map was easier to follow visually.) The answer is simple: I already broadcast my location. My tweets are usually geo-tagged, and I check in everywhere on foursquare.
Not everyone is like me, of course. But we live in an age where everyone has a phone in their pocket, almost all of those phones have cameras, almost all of those phones have the ability to upload pictures, and almost all of those phones have access to Facebook. Within seconds of you doing something you probably shouldn't have at a party, a picture illustrating your (hypothetical) ill deed can be online for the world to see, comment on, and Like.
Technology's constant march to speed up your ability to share information means your digital identity is always a step ahead of you. You can try as hard as you can to contain it, but controlling it is virtually impossible. So I choose to embrace it, and let information run free.
Still, I'm not sure how I'd feel if everyone knew just how often I visit Hong Kong Disneyland...
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