Tobler's first law of geography states that the closer places and people are to each another, the more similar they are or are likely to be. This Newtonian-inspired law and universal truth for the physical world of geography has equally held true for human, geopolitical, and socioeconomic geographical patterns. The doctrine may soon need rewriting though. Social networking applications of a flat, connected, instantaneous, and networked-world of social and human collaboration are beginning to challenge the principle.
I recently spoke with Shane Lennon, SVP Strategy & Marketing at GyPSii about their location-enriched social networking & publishing service now available on devices offered by Garmin, Samsung, and Ramar. Six months following their launch, Gypsii is on its way to plotting a future where mobile users record life events, with subsequent social butterfly effects ripping across the globe at blink-of-an-eye Internet speeds, bringing people closer together in time and place continuum's. Gypsii use-cases range from northeastern US users contributing awe affinity to a post by a Norwegian user documenting a blizzard that dumped over 20ft of snow on Strynevatnet and the surrounding area... to citizens in China documenting the May 12 Sichuan Province earthquake well ahead of AP and other mainstream press coverage. Citizen entries by Thomas Wa and Peter Wang following the devastating 8.0 quake depict a shattered world of loss, recovery, and hope, with stunning photos on location. These amatuer observations were picked-up by mainstream press and shared instantly and globally which subsequently elevated hyper-localized awareness that lead to a pouring of social support and an influx of humanitarian aid from around the world.
Gypsii's use cases prove that these kinds instantaneous power-of-place publishing and social networking services not only challenge Tobler's first law but also serve a better good, enabling communities of participants to exchange geographic knowledge across geographic and cultural boundaries, connecting the once disconnected through common sharing and affinity. Tobler acolytes, anthropologists, and geographic information scientists... perhaps it's time to rethink older-era fundamental teachings.