IM watching you

Today’s Washington Post reports on the use of instant messaging (IM) to keep tabs on friends and relatives without necessarily using it for two-way communication. I like the bit about the potential to make IM locationally aware and combine it with GIS technologies:

Over time, companies such as Microsoft say they expect to pair location information with instant messaging, making it ever more possible for buddies to pinpoint a person’s physical and technological accessibility. AOL LLC’s AIM system, for example, already shows whether a person is logged onto instant message on a mobile device. Skype users with Web cameras can post icons to alert other users of their ability to video conference.

Not only are you constantly connected but constantly located. Add to this the cellphone and we always know what you’re doing and where you are.

This use of IM has interesting implications for surveillance. Does this constant accessibility — read, visibility — open the door for greater acceptance of Big Brother? “If all my friends know where I am and what I’m doing then it’s no big deal that government and business knows this too.”

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