Monday, July 30, 2007

Lets Do Lunch

Now that I'm travelling all over the place, it seems a shame not to visit some of my readers when I have the chance. I don't get a lot of notice of where I'm going, and sometimes I don't have time to socialize, but sometimes I'm in the same place for a week or so, and would have time to visit people.

I have met a few readers recently, and they've all been fun, interesting people, so I'm in favour of meeting more. I was trying to concoct a good way of announcing where I am without announcing where I am. Although you can see I've become a little more relaxed about details of my location, I'm not sure I'm into a top-of-blog "Where I Am Today" flag. And I'd forget, or be unable to update it.

I concocted the idea of a feature that could exist on LinkedIn or Facebook or whatever contact-tracking website cared to implement it. The user has already registered a name, home town, and e-mail address. You add in a "where I am now" location, and have some more options for who should be able to view that information. But that's not the important part. The important part is that when you're planning to be in Chicago for a couple of days, it gives you the option to e-mail everyone on your contact list who is in Chicago, to tell them you'll be in town. You don't actually have to know their e-mail address, or even that they live in that town, just have them on your list of friends. There would be all kinds of customizing options to determine whether you wanted e-mail to go out to everyone on your list, or just those whom you tag as people you want to meet in real life. This would take care of both privacy and the problem of keeping track of where the heck your friends from two companies ago live now. You could also use it to help you e-mail all the right people when you change your permanent address.

While I was fantasizing about this possibility, a reader suggested a much more practical one. I already use Google Mail, and it allows the creation of an infinite number of groups. Now whenever someone sends me e-mail of the form, "Let me know if you're ever going to be in XYZ," I will put them in the group "XYZ." Then when I find out I'm going to XYZ in the morning, I can fire off a group e-mail and if our stars and schedules align correctly, we can do lunch, or see your fish hook museum, or irritate the local wildlife together.

I think this could work pretty well. So if you'd like to meet up if I have time to spare in your town, send me an e-mail including the identifier of "your" airport. If you split your time between more than one, or are equidistant from several, tell me multiple airports that you are near enough to want to know when I'm there.

I'll try this out for a bit, and see how it works. If the rest of you are nearly as interesting as the people I've encountered already through the blog, then it should be a lot of fun.

Also, for the folks who like round engines, I don't think I'll be going here, but I would if I were in town.