Meeting people via mobile apps?

TECHNOLOGY- For meeting friends or making new acquaintances everywhere we go, we just need to download some mobile applications. Highlight, Glancee, Sonar or Banjo are some of them. But do we really need them? using social discovery apps

Highlight, Glancee, Sonar or Banjo? Does it sound familiar? They are simply the so- called “social discovery” mobile apps!

You want to know if some of your friends or friends of your friends are nearby when you are  in a bar for example? Then you need one of these apps! The most interesting thing with the “Highlight” app is that it “introduces” you also (via your smartphone) to people you do not know but the app “thinks” you might like to know! (Look at the picture)

This is unbelievable, isn’t it? When two persons,who have downloaded the Highlight app, are “compatible”, their mobile phones begin to ring! If these apps are successful, people might  progressively lose their social skills and will be addicted to those apps, like our actual addiction to Facebook.

A better world?

But let’s listen to the CEO of Highlight, Paul Davison, explaining to a journalist why he thinks that “the world will become better when people share more information” with these kinds of apps! This sounds good! But I find the idea ridiculous! Sorry,I can’t help it.

As you have understood, to get the app working, it needs to have access to your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account. Those apps use algorithms to find  people who might be interesting to you,in your private sphere or simply for business.

Private data

This means that our private data are used  more and more to create  start-ups like Highlight , Glancee or Sonar! And you know who bought Glancee? Guess….Facebook!

The more people use  Facebook apps (or other social media) that enable them to  say what they are doing , the more all those social media start-ups know more about us! And these apps can make money!

“Express who you are through all the things that you do – the music you love, the recipes you enjoy, the runs you take” says Facebook to encourage people to download their social apps. And it works! Everyday on Facebook, I can read what  kind of music a friend is listening to for example. I disabled all Facebook apps recently.

The video below raises important questions about our privacy when it comes to using such apps like “Highlight”. Have a look at it.


Andrew Keen, a British -American author on the internet culture , known for his anti- Facebook opinions asked : “New social discovery apps try to engineer chance encounters. Could they spoil true serendipity?” I think yes, those apps can kill serendipity (happy accident or nice surprise).

In the end,there will be no place for surprises, less place for coincidence. Algorithms will tell us who we should meet, speak to or hire for a job! I don’t want to live in a such world! But isn’t it too late?

What you think of these new social discovery apps? Are you using them already? Do you think that those new technologies will change human behavior or not? I hope not ( maybe I am too optimist) and that’s why I like the picture below!

Lassila Nzeyimana

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  1. #1 by Alain Gashaka on November 15, 2012 - 11:32

    Nice article! By the way, we have to find the both faces of the social media beacause many users are sharing information in order to get more from their friends. I think that the importance of this is to give what is new and inform others instantanetly. For example, what need when we are using Facebook, is to get what is new data information from our contacts (friends, institutions, enterprises, associations) : what are their daily activities. It may be confused to some users who find private information from their friends, we are allowed to put whatever we want but more you will share the information needed more people will visit your profile. This, i mean it’s a big challenge of communication system.

  2. #2 by Michèle on November 15, 2012 - 15:16

    Frankly, I find these apps to be downright scary ! I own a smartphone but have never downloaded or plan on downloading these so-called ‘GPS’ apps.
    I do believe technology changes attitudes, I personally find myself calling people less and less. I’d much rather text or email, as it’s more time efficient, but unfortunately, it’s also more impersonal.
    In my opinion, the downside of technology is the loss of human contact and decaying social skills. Take ‘Generation Y’, most of them are incapable of communicating orally, they are always glued to their cells phones, texting, tweeting, chatting, etc. I think it’s a sad state of affairs, and even though I myself am moderately addicted to Facebook, I regret the good old days when none of those technologies were available or as pervasisve, not to say intrusive.
    Unfortunately new technologies will continue to spring up rapidly as there are so many avid consumers out there willing to adhere to this supposed ‘Better World’. That’s just my two cents.

  3. #3 by baumgartnerk on November 16, 2012 - 09:46

    New technologies will destroy our world…

  4. #4 by Isaac on November 17, 2012 - 02:27

    As Michele said, it’s somehow scary to know that “anyone” could see where you’re going, and eventually what you’re doing (and sometimes with who) with these geolocalising apps. I personnally have a smartphone with none of these apps installed. More and more personal informations are being collected by the virtual world. And it’s not only in the social medias. Regular email service provider (i.e. gmail) often ask to link your account with your cell phone (for your own good as usual…)

    The new technologies in general and social medias are changing human behavior, for sure. I am not too sure if it’s in a good or in a bad way. But what I do know for sure, it’s the immutability of mankind. And these technologies are just increasing the extend and the impact of our thoughts, words and deeds. I’ve seen these medias (and apps) used for noble causes, but also sometimes for worst.

    Moreover, in communities where we already have to ‘pretend’, to ‘prove’ something or to ‘be’ what people expect us to be and not who we really are, there is a risk to have biais in ‘ourselves 2.0’.
    When we know people see, hear, read what we do, we no longer act naturally. Simply take a look at our facebook profiles, status or pictures ! It’s always the best of us, a smart thought, a great picture, … as if we were going to face a Nobel prize jury or Oscar or …. If we have to meet people according to these apps then, we’ll be even more selective. Which leads I believe in superficial types of connections …and of relationships!

    My last point will be on our personal information. We have more and more of these spread all over the web, collected either by official administration, financial institutions, individuals,… I wonder if Big brother is just (still) a fiction !

  5. #5 by Isaac on November 17, 2012 - 02:28

    See ?? Even your blog won’t let me post without leaving my email address .. 😦

    • #6 by lassilakaruta on November 19, 2012 - 12:27

      🙂 Isaac, Big brother needs to know what you are doing…

  6. #7 by lassilakaruta on November 19, 2012 - 12:25

    Michèle, Karin, Isaac and Alain, many thanks for your comments! I also find these geolocation apps really scary but also fascinating…As Isaac said technology can also be used for noble causes…(although I can’t find a good reason for using the “highlight” app )
    Sherry Turkle, a MIT prof pointed out that: “Technology (smartphones, apps, etc) is great stuff. It’s not heroin. BUT it’s just something we need to learn to use when most appropriate and in our best interest.” That’s so TRUE but also so difficult to learn!

    And yes unfortunately our behaviour is progressively changing with all these new technologies. With social networks,it’s not anymore “I think therefore I am,” it’s, “I share therefore I am.” 😦

  7. #8 by violetaferrermarin on November 22, 2012 - 11:19

    C’est un bon article, avec un peu d’ humour, nécessaire pour aborder un sujet si contemporain et au même temps si absurde. Il semble que d’ici à quelques années, les relations professionnelles, personnelles et amoureuses seront qu’une réalité virtuelle. Dommage…Bon, il y a ceux qui se rencontrent encore des gens dans un café, au musée, ou à la rue, Non?????

    Les nouvelles technologies sont en train de changer nos comportements, nos habitudes, espèrerons qu’elles ne changent pas notre manière de ressentir.

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