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Location, location, location — pt. 2

To avoid doing work, I am procrastinating by tracking the delivery of MY INCREDIBLY COOL NEW DANGER HIPTOP via Fedex. And it occurred to me that Fedex’s tracking service is really the first major example of the power of location-based technology. I can essentially watch this little device slowly wander across America into my loving embrace:

- Arrived at Sort FacilityMEMPHIS TN 11/14/2002 11:47
- Left FedEx RampIRVING TX 11/14/2002 01:09
- Left FedEx RampDALLAS TX 11/13/2002 23:08
- Arrived at FedEx RampDALLAS TX 11/13/2002 22:41
- Arrived at FedEx RampIRVING TX 11/13/2002 22:05
- Left FedEx Origin LocationADDISON TX 11/13/2002 21:04
- Pickup statusADDISON TX 11/13/2002 14:04

Imagine how weird it’s going to be when mobile phones (and other devices) regularly track their locations, so you get the same data about the movements of your friends, family, and workmates — all day long. They’re already discovering the pleasures (and horrors) of this in Hong Kong, where The Pinpoint Company has rolled out services that let employees track the location of their workers’ cell phones.

Of course, this is all potential for some wonderful geographic hacking. A friend of mine has already joked that he could just leave his phone at his desk and then go see a movie; his boss, confidently checking his Pinpoint screen, would assume my friend was sitting at his desk and working. Heh.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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