Dopplr was a free social networking service, launched in 2007, that allowed users to create itineraries of their travel plans and spot correlations with their contacts’ travel plans in order to arrange meetings at any point on their journey.
—dopplr wikipedia entry
A couple of months ago dopplr was shut down. It was perhaps my most favouritistist of websites, but I didn’t use it. In fact, I hadn’t visited in nearly three years and it contained no data I was interested in saving… but I still counted it among my favourite sites.
dopplr had an elegant, yet jaw droppingly beautiful design; a marvel of simplicity and discoverability. The functionality was great, who doesn’t like the idea of discovering happy collisions with old friends? The implementation was cool, introducing me to OpenID. I loved the site enough to read the backstory when the shutdown news was being passed around, but I still didn’t want to use it again. The cost for this functionality was just far too great for me.
I simply couldn’t stomach giving up the information that dopplr required to function. It required an enormous amount of vigilance to police your own data on the way in, to make sure you weren’t sharing things you couldn’t or shouldn’t. You could often glean things that people didn’t perhaps realise they were sharing. A friend’s weekend to somewhere odd like Bedford wasn’t just a sign that you could meet up for lunch, it was probably also a sign that they were visiting Lockheed Martin .
“Oh, Kevin is going to be near me next week! Hmm, either he is on an exceptionally long pub crawl or he is about to sign a contract”
I know that dopplr was cool though, it was powerful and it did squeeze a lot more serendipity out of the world(I forget their actual tagline). I couldn’t imagine a better present for 2014 than to find a replacement that I could actually use, but sadly I can’t even picture how it should work.
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