Jason Kottke wants to see mobile phones that allow you to quickly “ping” someone with tiny predefined messages, such as letting your wife know that you are leaving work now and on your way home (i.e. Message from Jason Kottke: I’m leaving work). Yes, you can do this now with SMS but he wants the ability to press a few quick keys (i.e. two or three strokes) to send the message off quickly without having to type it out every time.
What Jason is talking about here is something very similar to what I’ve discussed before. Situational awareness. With situation awareness all that you are doing is making the other person (or persons) aware of what is going on with you at that moment. That’s it. There is no ongoing discussion or dialogue. Think of it like a heart rate monitor that lets you know that person is ok by letting out a “ping”.
In Jason’s example that he used above, instead of relaying typical predefined messages, what if you constructed your message with a few strokes instead? For example, what if he had ten predefined locations and ten predefined events. So say he wants to tell his wife he’s leaving the office. All he does is press the [PING] key, then his [LEAVING] event key then his [OFFICE] location key and the message is instantly sent (assuming it is defaulted to her). I mean if you really wanted to get technological (and a little big brother-ish), RFID technology could even do this for you. For example, if you are not at work but walk into the office, the RFID chip that you left at your office desk would tell your cellphone of your change in location which means you are [ARRIVING] there at the [OFFICE] and that message could be sent automatically. Of course, the wife could set this ping to have no audible tone but instead just show the last location and event. That way if she is wondering where you are at the moment she can look at her cellphone to see that you are [DRINKING] [PUB] and know that you are hard at work. 🙂
Actually what I find interesting about this “awareness tagging” is the possibilities of using it elsewhere, such as on the Web. Imagine if everyone broadcasted these awareness tags for different things and there were awareness aggregators out there that collected information and displayed it in a variety of different ways. An example I gave before in a previous post was making people aware of your daily mood (i.e. happy, sad, etc). As I indicated before, imagine if an awareness aggregator collected these tags from everyone and displayed them in different ways. So you could see what the daily mood of the world would be. Or maybe you could see the mood by country with a tiny dot representing you on the world map. Or what about other awareness tags? What about if an organization wanted to start an awareness campaign about supporting a worthy cause? Imagine if they told you to use a specific awareness tag on your site to indicate your support for the cause and then everyone with that tag was shown on the awareness aggregator site via a world map. You could see all the people around the world that cared about something specific. Or, from a different approach, you could see all of the people in the world who disagreed with an ideology or government approach. It would be like a virtual walk on a government building in that you could see the number and diversity of people from all over who came together to make a stand for or against something.