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Provide only a Glympse of your whereabouts

by Tim McLain

For many months now, I've used Gowalla and Foursquare to alert my friends, family and co-workers to my location at any given time. When I'm away on business or pleasure, it's fun to "check in" or "set my location" at coffee houses, hotels, convention centers and elsewhere. Instantly, that information appears in my Twitter and Facebook feeds, and the entire planet knows where I am.

In recent months, I've greatly reduced these activities. Why? There's no way to un-store this information once it's been freely posted. I've left a myriad of virtual bread crumbs across any number of locations, which anyone can mine, examine, and generally use for their own purposes.

Which is why I'm so glad to have found Glympse. This free app does what Foursquare and Gowalla do – sharing your exact position with others – without all the bells, whistles and privacy concerns that come along with them.

Once you've set your location, Glympse creates a one-off web page, containing your first name, location and Google Map showing your location. The app makes it easy to share a link to this private web page to anyone via email, SMS (text message) and, yes, Facebook (showing to friends only) or Twitter.

The secret sauce? Your location is only shared for the duration of time you specify, then the page and its information go away. No virtual breadcrumbs. No trace. No privacy concerns. I'll miss my Gowalla badges and Foursquare mayorships, but Glympse gives me much better control of who knows where I am, and for how long. Perfect.