Douglas Adams on Location-Based Services

Douglas Adams, the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, spoke to a room full of telecom executives in 2001 and in the middle of pleading with them to improve the call quality along the 101 freeway near his home in Santa Barbara, California, he also included this nugget describing a world that is just starting to be realized in 2011.

The one thing I did get right when I came up with the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was that it would know where you were and come up with information appropriately, and that of course is the thing that makes the crucial difference to everything in that list above. If every piece of information knew the when of itself and the where of itself, so that the virtual world we created fitted over the real world like an invisible glove, and these devices, which we currently think of as telephones or PDA’s, would be the devices that made that invisible world visible to us. The things which both generate the model and make it appear to us, they become windows from the real world into the virtual world which is everywhere around us.

Of course they won’t be like this, these are just telephones with bits added on, one wire taken away and a few more added to it.

Douglas Adams speech to Mobile World Congress, February 21, 2001

The main use case for Foursquare beyond telling people which office I’m working in for the day is to check the Tips section for a venue to see what the dishes are recommended at a restaurant or sights to see at a museum. Augmenting the physical world with location-specific media is the next big trend. Color.com is doing it with photos. Who will do it with music, who will do it with video, who will do it with links?

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