Monday, May 5, 2008

Hands on with Brightkite: real-world social networking

This Ars Technica article does a pretty good job of explaining BrightKite and how to use it. Essentially, BrightKite lets you answer the question, "Where are you?" and shares that location with others. It will also show you who else is at, or has been at, that same location or nearby. It's very similar to Google's Dodgeball and Yahoo's Fire Eagle, both of which are also in limited release.

I've been using the service for a few days now and am impressed with the overall design and ease-of-use. For me, the primary limiting factor right now is the rather small number of my existing friends who use the service. However, I am experimenting with BrightKite's integration with Twitter, which has the potential to expose my BK check-ins to a wider circle.

Unfortunately, there aren't separate privacy controls for the feed to Twitter—Twitter sees the same as what you have set to public—so I'm working out just how exact I want my check-in locations to be. For example, "home" is currently just the part of town where I live, but retail locations are address-specific. After all, there's not much point in checking in at the coffee shop if no one can see more than just the city and state.

If BrightKite sounds appealing to you, Ars has a limited number of invites to the private beta. Jump in. All the cool kids are doing it!