23 June 2009

Bye, Bye Dopplr

Sometimes social media seems cool, but is pretty pointless. Example: Dopplr.com, a "social atlas." Travelers post their upcoming trips and make their journeys visible to other travelers they choose. The site also contains a crowd-sourced travel guide for user destinations.

Someone sent me a link for this recently, and it sounded cool, so I joined. I even passed the link on to a couple of other people. But after an email reminder led me to populate my account with some travel data today, I realized I anticipated no benefit from the investment of time and effort. I know where I'm going, and the people I know who care about where I'm going also know where I'm going (or else I don't want them to know).

A key function of Dopplr is to point out "coincidences"; e.g., "1250 people are going to NYC at the same time as you." Perhaps I'm unusual, or maybe it's a generational thing, but I'm just not that interested in such coincidences. No doubt, many thousands of people are going to NYC at the same time as me--I'll see some of them at the airport when I arrive. Why should I be curious about the travel habits of Dopplr members I don't know?

It might be sort of cool if everyone I ever met was on Dopplr and let me see their schedules--wow, that girl who sat across from me in French class (and nearly failed) is going to Paris! Or, OMG, my ex-boyfriend is vacationing in Orlando at the same time as I am! That sort of critical mass is probably the inherent attraction of something like Facebook.

But then, I don't have a Facebook account, either.

I do have a TripAdvisor account. Occasionally I write reviews of hotels I've stayed in; more often I read the reviews. And I minimally keep track of my travel there, because the site provides a truly cool bonus for populating my travel data--a Travel Map, with pushpins indicating the places I've been.

And this is perhaps a critical difference between Dopplr.com and social media that I do (at least occasionally) use: without its social component, Dopplr serves no purpose at all. I don't need a website to keep track of my upcoming trips: I already do that using my calendar. I don't need Dopplr for travel advice: there are plenty of crowd-sourced travel guides.

I visit my account at LibraryThing not because I'm dying to know what thousands of strangers have on their shelves, but because it provides a useful tool to catalog my books.

Maybe I'm not hip enough. Regardless, this afternoon I closed my Dopplr account. Life's too short.

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