Gowalla ...Go What?!?

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In a highly technological age where oversharing one's life activities is the norm, we shouldn't forget that being so transparent may not necessarily be a bad thing. With the birth of Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook, came the need to not only know what our friends were doing but where they were doing whatever "was on their mind." Thank you, Facebook.
Geo-location has become the new "thing" for social networking enthusiasts, and there are a number of applications to choose from. Two of the most popular applications are FourSquare and my personal favorite - Gowalla. If you're a "geo-location newbie," here's a brief definition:
Geolocation (geotagging): is the practice of associating a digital resource with a physical location.
Still don't get it?
Let's say you went to McDonald's for lunch (I did, and now I'm experiencing a slight food coma). While you were there, you could've "checked in" at the location to let your friends/followers know that you went there for lunch. If you really want to share your location, you have the option of sharing your coordinates. Kinda creepy, right? It doesn't have to be.
Recently, I read an article on the HandsOn Blog entitled, "Gowalla Adds Volunteer and Service Category." Since I currently work in AARP's Office of Volunteer and Civic Engagement ( www.createthegood.org), I was intrigued. I had always wondered if a geolocation application could be used to influence individuals to serve in their communities. While there aren't any case studies/white papers on this topic, the potential to drive civic engagement is great.
How could this help non-profit organizations?
Imagine this: a group of people attending a community service project, and they all "check-in" at one non-profit. Individuals could leave comments about their service hopefully enticing their friends to find other opportunities to serve the community. Friends tend to copy people they hang out with, right? It's not a completely far-fetched idea, and I'd like to give Gowalla kudos for adding this feature!
If you've got questions about how to use any of the geolocation apps, feel free to shoot me an email. I'd love to open dialogue about ways that this can be used for good!
Happy Checking-In!

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