Dodgeball: a Social Network for your mobile phone

If Facebook’s lack of privacy didn’t scare you enough, here comes the next step in social networks- dodgeball.com, a “mobile” social software application.  This page allows users to create an online profile and add friends to these accounts in the same way as in Facebook or NING.  Again, these connections allow people to meet or contact one another through mutual friends and interests.  However, Dodgeball’s aim is not to connect people virtually via a social networking site, but rather to connect people in the physical world.  The site states that it “focuses on using technology to facilitate serendipity.”

For instance, if  a member of Dodgeball was headed out to a local restaurant, he or she would post a message via the site stating where he or she was going.  A mass text message would then be automatically sent to the mobile phones of everyone in his/her network notifying everyone of where the user was going to be that night.   There is also a “Friends of Friends” function, so  Dodgeball will notify you if there are members that are friends of your listed friends anywhere within 10 blocks of you, so that you can meet up.  Dodgeball will also notify these “friends of friends” that you will also be nearby. 

Dodgeball, I think, correctly anticipated that one of the best uses of this kind of information feed would be to facilitate dating.  Therefore, it offers a feature known as “Crushes” in which a user may designate five other Dodgeball users that he or she has a “crush” on.  Dodgeball will immediately send a notification to both the “crush” and the admirer if the two are nearby one another, making mention of the special “crush” designation.  Another feature is Dodgeball’s ability to look up venues of interest based upon your location. 

The interesting thing about Dodgeball is that, though it is a hybrid system using both a website and mobile phones to offer its service, most commands, including check-in (which posts and subsequently broadcasts your current location) shout-outs (which sends a personalized message) and commands to organize events and send messages to specific groups, can all be done using text messages directed to the central Dodgeball system.  A user does not need to be near a computer to work with Dodgeball.  He or she simply must memorize the Dodgeball commands and send a text message.  Here  is a list of commands and functions that a user can execute from his or her phone.  (I find it reminiscent of DOS or DIALOG type commands.)

Dodgeball is city based and is currently available in 22 US cities.  It was acquired by Google in 2006 and requires that users have a Google account before being able to connect their mobile phones to this service. 

So, what does Dodgeball bring to the discussion of libraries and Web 2.0?  I think the merging of mobile and web-based technologies is particularly interesting, and compliments up-and-coming technologies such as the iphone.  If this type of combined utility (a social network, a dating utility, a city map database and a venue listing) is evolving alongside the combined utility of PDAs, I think we may see escalating user expectations for combined functionality in library sites and services that will be increasingly challenging to meet. 

Further, Dodgeball may be symptomatic of a new rejection of individual privacy.  For example, a user of Facebook may publish volumes of intimate personal details for the world to see, yet feel secure because those that view this information may not be able to locate him or her in the physical world.  However, Dodgeball’s main purpose is to broadcast users’ personal details as well as their up-to-the-minute physical locations to selected “friends” as well as non-selected “friends of friends”.  You’ll note that this is one site for which I have not created a profile.  Participatory culture is all well and good but there I some boundaries that I don’t want to cross!

Cool Rating:  2 (The idea is interesting, but the risks may outweigh the utility.)

Readings:

Further information on Dodgeball’s privacy policy.

Interesting Blog post on the relationship between Google and Dodgeball.

Information Today article regarding the relationship between social networks and information professionals. I think it fits in well with the ongoing discussion and the previous few posts. 

M.G.

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One Response to “Dodgeball: a Social Network for your mobile phone”

  1. Chandra Says:

    Hurrah, that’s what I was searching for, what a information! existing here at this web site, thanks admin of this web site.

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