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Imagine a world where smart phones geolocate anything from sales to crimes, where all the information you need appears at your fingertips.
No need to imagine further. Tagwhat is a “free network where you can create-and-share location-based messages and content online or in mobile augmented reality,” according to its website.
As a social media enthusiast and journalist, I’m always searching for the next big thing to happen to journalism, which is an ever-changing field. So when I was approached with the idea of location-based journalism a couple weeks ago, I was instantly intrigued.
Tagwhat might just be the next big thing to happen to not only journalism, but also business and social interaction.
Dave Elchoness, Don Cramer and Angus Shee founded the company in Boulder. It launched publicly this past May. iPhone and Android applications were released in June.
Elchoness, who practiced law for 10 years and then worked with Qwest, got involved with social media and the virtual world and found that augmented reality was becoming a reality. Elchoness said he is responsible for the business aspects of the company, Cramer is responsible for web developing and Shee is an engineer.
The tagline for the company is “Tagwhat Matters,” because, simply, the purpose of Tagwhat is to give a place to what matters.
“You can tag places that have historical or educational significance,” Elchoness said. “You can tag any spot that matters to you.”
I could already see how Tagwhat is a significant application in the CU community, as well as the city of Boulder, in many different ways.
A person can tag the location of a sexual assault or any other attack, and the community can see if there’s a location-based trend. On the other hand, a business owner can tag information on a sale the business is having. A restaurant could post a coupon free or discounted food. In the case of any local news story, the story could be posted to Tagwhat by its location.
In the case of the Fourmile Fire, people could have tagged locations to evacuate and could have posted the locations of homes that were destroyed. This location-based tagging could have been useful to the average resident of Fourmile.
To create a tag for a place, just take out your mobile device, or visit Tagwhat’s website. Alternatively, for those more interested in finding tags than creating them, just pull out your phone or visit the website to see tags people have already created. You can then comment on the tags and help build a story or create additional information.
Tagwhat is a form of augmented reality, a concept that might be difficult to grasp for non-military minds like my own.
“It’s a technology that allows you to hold up your mobile device, and it tells you about what you are looking at,” Elchoness said. “It’s data super-imposed on a camera view.”
Understanding the technology involved is not crucial to use this application, but it is interesting. Augmented reality has been used in sports broadcasting for many years. A typical example of augmented reality is the yellow first down lines seen in TV football broadcasts. Another example of augmented reality is the personal display glasses used by military pilots, Elchoness said.
Tagwhat has already spread internationally.
“We have people on every continent except Antarctica, although we have places tagged in Antarctica,” Elchoness said.
He added that New Zealand and Australia are using Tagwhat to mark real estate. Travelers in Zambia, a country in southern Africa, have tagged places they visited. Tagwhat is gaining popularity in Europe, especially in Germany. Japan is also enjoying the application’s augmented reality.
Tagwhat has the potential to become a very social way of interacting. The company provides a unique way of delivering augmented reality. Not only could a person to drop a tag on a location, he or she could invite friends to follow them. This is similar to what people do with Twitter.
Tagwhat also allows people to comment on the location-based conversations, and share URL and video. It has the ability to use all multimedia.
Still, it might take a while before Tagwhat catches on to a larger audience.
Danielle Peotter, a 21-year-old junior marketing major and an iPhone owner, said she is not sure how she would use Tagwhat.
“If the app is free, I might use it,” Peotter said.
Currently, the app is free, so she might be in luck.
Julia Rubinstein, a 19-year-old sophomore psychology major, said she thinks the application could be helpful for news.
Though most CU students don’t know about Tagwhat yet, many say they can see themselves enjoying the app.
Tori Tillquist, a 20-year-old sophomore environmental design major, said she could see herself really getting into using Tagwhat.
“If I got it, I can see myself using it all the time,” Tillquist said. “[I’d be] especially into [using Tagwhat] if there were deals on food.”
The future of Tagwhat is unknown, but Elchoness said that he could see it going in a number of directions.
“I can see people using it to mark whether or not you live by a sex offender,” he said. “I can also see people tagging terrorist attacks.”
Contact CU Independent Social Media Outreach Editor Sara Juliet Fruman at Sara.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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