Google Latitude brings web closer to place-based networking

Today Google has proved correct the predictions of many, including anthropologist and technology expert danah boyd. For years she has been fond of saying that the next iteration of the web — the much ballyhooed Web 3.0 — will be place-based. In a post of hers from two years ago, she writes the following:

I believe that geographic-dependent context will be the next key shift. GPS, mesh networks, articulated presence, etc.

People want to go mobile and they want to use technology to help them engage in the mobile world.

Leaping across the chasm to a robust mobile web experience won’t be easy. Especially in this country. Like the ancient city of Bable, the current state of U.S. carriers is one of everyone speaking a different language.

This suits the carriers just fine.

As long as you cannot easily share rich functionality with someone who has a different cell plan, the temptation to switch is less. In other words, as long as each carrier is as dumb as the next, we all remain tied to our current one. In a confederacy of dunces, you might as well stick with the dunce you know.

Enter Google, Stage Left

Even before 2005, when Google purchased Dodgeball, there have been indications that they see the future in place-based networking. Everyone has been watching for the big play; the one that will accelerate the steady march to this new networked experience.

In the meantime, many of us have done our own experimenting with what has been available. I, for one, have toyed with — especially its “I am here” interface with Twitter (my handle in both: TheLarch).

The experience has been kludgy.

This is rarely a word used for Google applications, though. And today they officially announced Google Latitude.

Here’s a video to explain how it works. It’s about (surprise, surprise) privacy:

What Latitude will do for our progress toward rich mobile networking is not necessarily revolutionary, but it is evolution on steroids.

I am certainly not the only person predicting that the news today is big.

I am, however, the only one in this particular location. Perhaps by later this year, if you’re a close friend, and I choose to let you know, you’ll be able to know through Latitude exactly where my current “here” happens to be.