This app helps you avoid the crowd.

If you’re the type who tries to go where everyone isn’t, Avoid Humans may be the app for you.

It was designed as a way to “get away from it all” during this year’s SXSW, but it’s now available everywhere. It uses publicly available data from Foursquare and Instagram to try and predict which establishments have sparse human cover.

I launched it in my Philly apartment this evening and got the following results:

Avoid Humans app

I didn’t need an app to tell me I can go to a gas station to escape humanity for awhile. Also, pretty sure nobody uses Foursquare. Maybe they use Instagram though.

Via {Adweek}.

When Free Data Ain’t Free

Wired has a smart take on an idea that sounds good at first: unlimited data usage on your phone for certain apps.

T-Mobile has announced plans that allow access to Twitter, Instagram, and others for free. (Well, included with your monthly charges.)

Virgin Mobile has plans with unlimited access to just Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest for a flat monthly fee.

But like net neutrality, this bundling/unbundling (depending on how you look at it) could stifle innovation:

In [Fred] Wilson’s comparison, zero rating makes apps more like TV by effectively turning specific services into channels. Under the Sprint deal, you get the Facebook channel, the Twitter channel, and so on. To get the full-on open internet—which we used to simply call the internet—you must pay more. For Wilson, this amounts to a kind of front-end discrimination analogous to efforts to undermine net neutrality on the back-end. Some apps or services get preferential treatment, while others are left to wither through lack of equal access.

As Wilson explains, this makes zero rating an existential threat to what he sees as a period of more egalitarian access that allowed the internet economy to flourish. “There was a brief moment in the tech market from 1995 to now where anyone could simply attach a server to the internet and be in business,” Wilson writes in response to a commenter. “That moment is coming to an end.”

Read:
Free Mobile Data Plans Are Going to Crush the Startup Economy {by marcus wohlsen; wired}.

I Know Where Your Cat Lives

This is eye-opening:

[Owen Mundy] was using Instagram like everybody and photographing… [his] life. And it never occurred to [him] that [his] phone was geotagging all the photographs with the location and including that information and uploading that.

The surprise drove Mundy to create the website,
I Know Where Your Cat Lives. He took pictures publicly shared on photo sites like Instagram and Flickr—photos tagged with the word cat.

He then used the location data embedded in those pictures to place them on a Google map. And we should say he gathered a million of these cat photos. Well, every so often it’s someone dressed in a catsuit.

Read/listen:
Meet the Guy Who’s Putting Your Cat on the Map {npr}

“With Big Data Comes Big Responsibility”

I think we desperately need to pay more attention to the companies who are manipulating us and selling our data while disclosing these practices in the middle of rarely read terms of services agreements.

Om Malik is on the same page:

Forbes tells us that even seemingly benign apps like Google-owned Waze, Moovit or Strava are selling our activity and behavior data to someone somewhere. Sure they aren’t selling any specific person’s information, but who is to say that they won’t do it in the future or will use the data collected differently.

And this uncertainty should be sparking a debate.

It is important for us to talk about the societal impact of what Google is doing or what Facebook can do with all the data. If it can influence emotions (for increased engagements), can it compromise the political process? What more, today Facebook has built a facial recognition system that trumps that of FBI — think about that for a minute.

As for me, the NSA revelations have prompted me to change my digital ways. I removed almost all of my information from Facebook. It took hours. I then deleted my Google account, although I maintain one under a pseudonym so I can easily login to websites that require it. I also login to Waze with a pseudonym. (Fake name generator you are awesome.)

These are imperfect solutions and I am still engaging with these companies and giving them my data; I recognize that. And I still interact on Instagram and Twitter. But I feel as though this is as far as I am willing to go and I am now engaging with these companies in a more deliberate manner. Which is what we need more of.

Read With Big Data Comes Big Responsibility.

“A Roughly 31,000 Percent Return”

Fascinating article about Instagram and its recent $one billion sale to Facebook:

At Stanford, [Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin] Systrom opted to go abroad to Florence, Italy, for the winter term of his junior year, where he focused on photography. A teacher there persuaded him to switch from his Nikon to a plastic Holga that took square photos, a choice that would be echoed later at Instagram. Florence also marked Systrom’s introduction to using chemicals in the developing process, such as selenium toning, which can give photos a distinct purple hue.

All this would ultimately be incorporated into the new app that Systrom and Krieger were busily sketching out by hand in notebooks in the summer of 2010. During the exhausting push, Systrom took a cheap vacation to a hippie artists’ village called Todos Santos, in Baja California Sur, Mexico, with his girlfriend, Nicole.

Read the article, The Money Shot {vanity fair}, to learn how filters became a key part of the app and find out who made that crazy-high return on their investment my headline alludes to…

Via {daring fireball}.