I've been playing with Platial this week to see if it can give me the functionality I've been wanting for the past year, for geographic bookmarking. I've been playing around with this concept of "Placebook" for some months now, which would be a Facebook app to allow me to bookmark places I want to remember (via my mobile), tag them with metadata like "quiet drink" and "business meeting", share them with only my Facebook friends (or keep them entirely private), and recall them on my mobile when I'm wandering around trying to remember "where that great little bar was that thingy took me to that time when we had the fish. You know?" I'm very happy to say that Platial looks pretty neat and doesn't get bogged down in shackling my places to "official information" such as Google local or UGC venue data - which means I can actually call things "My house" and "The tree where I had my first kiss" and so on. Great news for all you psychogeographers (or "neogeographers") out there. It's also a good interface and seems sufficiently playful, despite some slight clunkiness with the categories and geo-location stuff. (I haven't yet checked what they're using for location data, but I'm really hoping it's the lovely Geonames.)
The bad news though is that, like all these sites, they insist on sharing. I've been saying for a while now that there are some commodities that don't follow the usual rules of the social web, specifically all those which are limited in quantity, such as physical space, or trendspotting. I've been rather ponderously calling this the esoteric web, which simply means any information which needs to be kept secret from the many and shared amongst the few. Put simply, if you tell everyone about your favourite restaurant, the next week you can't get a table. And I definitely don't want to tell everyone else where I live, or where I had my first kiss. Social sites like Trusted Places tend to be full of places we like, but rarely places we love.
So please, dear Platial, here's what I want for Christmas:
- let me add private bookmarks that only I, or selected loved ones, can see the places that are important to me;
- plug yourselves into the Facebook/Open Social thang so I can use my existing networks to control my sharing, rather than creating yet more blasted online "buddies"; and
- give me a nice neat mobile app so I can bookmark places on the move, and find them again quickly when I'm lost in Soho again and my date is shouting at me.
Come on, you know it makes sense. Please don't make me have to build it myself, I've got too much to do already.