Recently I have become a pretty active participant in various social networks. Because I have not yet found a single application that does everything for me I maintain a presence in many places. For example I have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn profile, I love Friend Feed and post often to Tumblr as well. I'm not sure exactly what it is about our human psychology that drives these social networking sites, but I guess it has something to do with our innate desire to share our life experience with others.
One of the defining aspects of my own life experience lately is my travel schedule. I travel a lot for business and I want to share various aspects of that experience with my social networks. There are a LOT of different services on line that try to address this need and I have tried many of them. Most I have abandoned after a little while as I didn't find that they were worth the effort to maintain, but there are a few that I do find value in and maintain regularly.
BrightKite is probably my overall favorite. It has a simple interface and an easy ability to update from my Blackberry. It helps me publish the simple "Where the heck is Stu today?" question out to the social fabric. The hook is that you have to consciously update BrightKite whenever you want it to understand your new location. Sometimes it may be hours (OK sometimes days) before I remember to update my location. Another thing I like about BrightKite is that it uses the Yahoo! Fire Eagle location engine to update location so that other services can be aware of my location. Thoughtful architecture that has yet to fully live up to its potential, although the new Friends on Fire Facebook application leverages this nicely.
Google Latitude is a recent addition to my repertoire. The great thing about Latitude is that it is automatically aware of my location. I don't have to remember to update my location, my phone handles that automatically. Now this amount of information and the precision of the location means that it is not necessarily appropriate to my broader social networks, but to my close colleagues and my immediate family this is an awesome service and I am a big fan. For myself, I am comfortable with the security measures that Google has put in place to protect my privacy and am not particularly worked up about the "Big Brother" implications of this service like some others are.
Dopplr is a service that I maintain not because it adds much value to my social network (and I worry that this will be a problem for Dopplr in the long run) but because it provides a nice simple view of my historic travel. There is also a carbon footprint calculator piece of Dopplr that I like even though its implications to my personal use of carbon are pretty discomforting.
The other travel tool that I absolutely love even though it has no immediate implications to social networking is WorldMateLive. This site coordinates all my travel itinerary details between my Outlook calendar and my phone and has great tools for looking up information about flight status while on the road. Absolutely great tool!
So, what are the tools you use most? Have you found social location tools that you like better than the ones I have chosen? Please leave a comment and share your experience.