February 8th, 2010

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A response to yet another metric rant

At this blog post, which is yet another rant complain that the US has not "gone metric", I posted this reply:


Something I like to point out to people is that the US was the second country in the world to go metric, after France invented it.

All goods sold in the US are required to be marked in metric units.

All military, construction, and custom goods contracts sold to the US government are required to be designed and blueprinted in metric units.

The “customary system” is legally defined in terms of metric units. The US system isn’t a “bastard child of the Imperial system”. Quite the opposite: the Brits kept changing their units of measurement, while the US ones stayed fixed. Which one is the “bastard”?

What you are complaining about is that in the US we have not *forced* people and manufacturers to stop using customary units. What do you suggest? Make customary unit rulers and tools illegal to own? Fine weather reporters for saying temperature in Farenheight. Fine manufacturers and stores for stocking stuff in round units of oz and feet?

Such laws would have a hard time standing up when challenged in court.

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The right way to do location+social

I'm tired of geolocation "apps". And of geo location "sites", and especially of geo-location based startups and 99% of location based business plans. There is little to no need for any of it.

Not to say that location isn't useful and transformative, especially when mixed with "social". But stuff like dodgeball / foursquare / brightkite / latitude are braindead ways of doing it.

Here is how it should work:

Location data goes into your XMPP status, right next to your "away" status, using XMPP XEP-0080. It can be kept up to date with either your preferred IM program, and/or with a specialized one, running on your smartphone/MID (iPhone, iPad, Android, Netbook, Laptop, etc) Location data also can go into Twitter / Status.net / etc updates.

You would then add a "location social" service, such as Foursquare or FireEagle or Latitude, to your IM roster. That service can then IM back to you when a friend of yours is someplace interesting, or a friend of a friend is near you, or tell an advertiser or business that someone with your marketing profile is at some venue, or whatever. If you want to do a specific "checkin", that would be also coded into your XMPP status, or you can send a "checkin" IM message to the location social service.

It scales, it federates, it monetizes, it mashups, it allows consumer choice, it is easy for both programmers and users, it invites trival uptake, it enables many more things to be more easily built on top of it. It requires no to little software to be installed or used by the end users.


It drives me nuts that the Android IM app doesnt implement XEP-0080, and that it appears that Google Talk mangles it. Talk about missing an opportunity!

It drives me nuts that all the various Twitter smartphone clients do not implement the Twitter Geo-Location API. Hint, putting a shortened URL pointing into Google Maps is NOT "geo-location".

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