In light of Flickr, the photo uploading and sharing service introducing geofences which allow you to designate a certain geographic area in which your photos can be viewed, there are a variety of ways in which geofences could have serious ramifications for those that currently rely on the Internet to work from abroad.
For the Internet as North Americans know it has often been the proponent of being able to connect with people anytime, anyplace and anywhere in the world. If an e-mail user were to block all incoming messages from Canada, then that would be an example of geofencing.
Let me be clear that I am not against the geofencing of personal photos or information. I am however concerned with the general direction the Internet has been developing in as of late. The mere fact that we are becoming geofenced in light of a global world driven by a global economy.
How much geofencing is too much geofencing?
I’ve seen a growing trend towards a more local, direct experience on the Internet, starting with Google where we are automatically set to search in our geographic area rather than the entire English speaking world, for example. While these settings can be changed with a little bit of difficulty, the latter is an initative by Google to make search results more locally relevant to you.
The persistance of daily deal websites that automatically force to you to choose your location is another example.
Social media is geofencing too on popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, where we spend most of our time on the Internet, and the ads are targeted to you based on your demographics, location and occupation.
I understand that the greatest chunk of advertising revenue is still in local offline advertising and that the greatest opportunity would then logically appear to be local online advertising as a revenue model for many current, upcoming, and would-be future entrepreneurs.
With the Internet becoming more local and direct, is it thwarting our efforts to work together globally?
Sure, it’s providing opportunties for us to work locally together, which is by far the easiest way to make an impact, which Arianna Huffington last night outlined as an opportunity to create jobs between federal and local parties on Piers Morgan Tonight.
However, is the semantic web, which makes matches based on likes, interests and demographic information to name a few, heading in a direction which is allowing for a too narrow view of our surroundings when we need to think on a larger scale given that the economy is globally driven?
The rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets is also promoting a more local intent in which connected devices are being used.
We’ve often praised the Internet for connecting us and making our world more global. Countries like the United States have promoted localization as a strategy to save their own economy, when the reality is that much of the investment that makes up the United States’ stock market is foreign.
Can the Western World really afford the potential for the increasingly worldwide economy to exist in conjunction with an increasingly forced local online experience?
I understand more local is more relevant, but how does the connected world draw the lines in the sand between a local Internet and a global one given the nature of our world rather than where the money is to be made?