Pivot towards a cliff: Brightkite (Checkins), RIP

Removing the Brightkite app from my iPhone.

Letting go: removing the Brightkite app from my iPhone.

Today marks the end of Brightkite’s location-based social network, as the company repositions itself firmly in the “group texting” camp. It was my first introduction to location-based social networking, and I’m going to miss it. Brightkite was the only location-based social network that really nailed privacy controls: you could set privacy per-post, per-checkin, be vague to some users but not others, and more. It amazes me that none of its surviving competitors have similar privacy controls today. Placestreams were a really useful feature, featuring notes and photos of people who have left them behind, telling a story about a location. The market leader, Foursquare, still does not yet support attaching pictures to a place. What’s with that?

Update, 12/20/2010: Foursquare will now support photos on checkins and tips.

Brightkite’s service is another example of forward thinking in location-based networking. By doing the work to match disparate locations between several different services in the database, it provided for an accurate checkin across many services. Gowalla recently released a crossposting feature in its latest client; as I discovered the other night, though, it doesn’t seem go to the trouble of using an already-created Foursquare venue to check in. Rather, it will create a temporary place and check you in there. Angling for a mayorship to score a discount? Avoid the Gowalla app. will help you get there, though. (It, too, is waving in the winds at the moment, but hopefully will be picked up for active development at some point.)

In the end, though, a social network is only as good as the number of friends you have on it. (If technical considerations were how social networks won the race, Pownce would have bought Twitter out.) I also think that Brightkite may have been ahead of its time; Foursquare made the placestream concept easier to grok (“venue” is, indeed, a more accessible term) and gave users a reason to check in other than for the sake of checking in.

Brightkite as a company will live on as a group text company — just like PingChat, Kik, and many, many other players. I wish them the best of luck, but I have no need for another group text app right now — as the screenshot above illustrates.

Infrastructure Weather Weather Station

Yep, I’m Moving

After four great, unforgettable years living downtown, I’m going to be moving deep into the heart of West Ashley to a one-bedroom place near the river. My last day down here is May 31; I’ll be relocating briefly with the parental units to the Creek for a few days while I wait for my new apartment to open up.

This likely doesn’t matter to most people, except for those who follow my weather station closely. I hate it, but the weather station will be ceasing operations Thursday afternoon for the foreseeable future, and for good in that location. It’s been a fantastic experience providing conditions from my backyard for two years, but the reality of my situation — moving to a complex — dictates that the station can’t continue for now. Perhaps in the future, when I own something and will be firmly entrenched in it, will I be able to restart operations. I may have located a foster home for the station, though — more details to be announced later.

My focus on user-generated weather content is changing. I’m now focusing on what can be done with streaming media and interactivity; I’m already doing some of that now at Ustream and, when it’s up, Twitter. Both ventures have been pretty successful so far. I’m going to expand on that soon and probably spin weather off from here into its own domain as time goes on, more than likely. Stay tuned — it’s going to get really hardcore soon, especially with hurricane season knocking on the door.

It’s going to be weird, though, not knowing what the exact temperature is at my house at any given time. I’ve gotten so, so, so used to that over the years…and now I won’t have it anymore. Here’s hoping someone takes the torch and runs with it.