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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

The way Brightkite fits

July 22, 2008

A few months ago I was invited to join Brightkite.  At the time I wasn’t too keen on giving up my exact location all the time, nor did I want to switch from Twitter to Brightkite and start all over again.  For any of you reading this, the way Brightkite fits into my daily routine means that I don’t have to do either of those things.

Specific, non-specific, and everything in between

One of the beauties of Brightkite is the layers of options you have with just about everything you do on the service.  When I “check in” at any given location, I can be as specific about where I am as I want to be.  For example, when I check in at home I simply check into the city in which I live.  I do not check into my exact address.  When I’m at a cafe, at work, or another public location I generally check in with as specific location details as I have available to me at the time.

Also of note is that if you’re scared to give out your exact address don’t be naive to the fact that if someone really wants to find out where you live, they can – whether you use any of these location based social services or not.

Perhaps you’ll only want to check into Brightkite when your geography changes dramatically.  Maybe going to the grocery store down the road doesn’t warrant you switching your location before you share 140 characters with the world the way you do now.  Perhaps if you went on vacation to an island in the Bahamas, you’d like to check in so that your messages are properly stored based on your current location.

I’m a little more anal than that.  I want my locations to be stored as granularly as possible. Not for everyone else, but for the possibilities that arise because of it. Not only am I able to keep track of where/when/how and what for myself, but you never know when you might meet up with a fellow Brightkite user at a given location.

I’ve been poking around my history on Brightkite and I see that I’ve crossed paths a few times ((Sometimes within only a few miles or even at the same location but only a day or so apart.)) with other Brightkite users.  My friend and follow Viddler team member Brandice (who talked me into really kicking the tires at Brightkite) recently met up with a Brightkite user at her local Panera Bread. I’m hoping, like it has happened on Twitter so many times, that Brightkite makes this even easier for me to experience as well.

Using Brightkite as a Twitter client

Brightkite will update Twitter with any of your activity on Brightkite, but again, there are layers upon layers of options.  Remember I said that you don’t have to switch away from Twitter if you use Brightkite the way I do?  Here is how I have Brightkite set up to notify Twitter.

One of the most annoying things, I thought, about the way that Brightkite updated Twitter was all of the bkite.com/whatever URLs.  Every time you saw a message from a Brightkite user on Twitter you saw this link and I found it irritating.  It turns out that the Brightkite team has already thought of this.  Not only can you specify which activities on Brightkite update your Twitter status (including check ins, note, and photo posts), but you can also specify the information that Brightkite posts to Twitter.  I have customized the output of my notifications to Twitter so that my notes do not contain a link back to Brightkite.  This means that if I use Brightkite to post a note and it updates Twitter, those that follow me on Twitter are none-the-wiser.  However, when I post a photo to Brightkite there is a link from Twitter so that you can see that photo.  There is also a link when I check in at a location, though I’m considering removing this update notification from my list because some on Twitter may find it annoying ((Which I can totally understand.)).

So instead of posting to Twitter I post to Brightkite which, in turn, posts to Twitter for me.  No extra work on my part.  Some of the people I follow use services like Ping.fm to post to every single social network at once.  I’ve not gotten that deep yet but it is certainly an option.

Conclusion

Brightkite is a very promising service being developed by a team that obviously pays close attention to detail.  I like that.  I feel that the teams at both Brightkite and FriendFeed pay far more attention to detail than the team at Twitter, but then again all three services have very different challenges and goals.  When I see a service being as well crafted as Brightkite is, I’m going to stick around and see if I can make it fit.

I have a few invites to Brightkite.  So if you want one drop a comment and use an email address that I can send the invite too.