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Instagram followers. Email contacts. Twitter followers. Facebook friends. LinkedIn connections. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep all of these networks separate, or know who you’re connected with, and where. A new app called Connect says you don’t have to.

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 9.16.01 PMScreenshot from app.connect.com

Connect, featuring both web and iPhone versions, with an Android version in the works, integrates all of your connections onto one location-based platform. The app operates on the assumption that networks are dynamic, and shouldn’t be confined to one social network site or another. Your connections are literally mapped out, and Connect notifies you when someone changes locations, or if someone is in your area. That allows for more “serendipitous” encounters, says creator Ryan Allis, according to TechCrunch. Instead of tracking users with GPS, as Facebook or Instagram might, Connect relies on data aggregated from social networks to show you where your friends are.

So, I tried it. On the web version, you log in via Facebook or LinkedIn – I chose Facebook. On the iPhone app, you’re also asked to import your iOS contacts. Then, I was presented with my first authorization window, and I clicked accept faster than I could think about it, since I all I wanted was to get through to the app. I feel like this reaction is typical for social media users nowadays. As danah boyd says in “Social Steganography”, “participation in such networked publics does not imply that today’s teens have rejected privacy a a value” (1). She also says that “access is a key part of many definitions of privacy,” so when we give apps and services like Connect access to our contacts, friends, followers and more, we’re essentially giving up our privacy. Still, I feel like we’re usually willing to give a little bit of access to participate in what’s new and what’s next. The process of giving permission repeats itself every time you link up another set of contacts. Below is the authorization window from Instagram.

instagram permission

Screenshot from app.connect.com

VentureBeat, a blog about emerging tech startups, also did a feature on Connect. Though their article was full of praise about the app’s usefulness, I’m not so sure. The app’s audience, admittedly, isn’t college students; it’s people with a global network of professional contacts, a travel-heavy line of work, and friends who also actively use social media. Because the app collects data from social networks, and doesn’t use GPS, you have to rely on your connections to consistently update their location on their various profiles.

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 9.18.30 PMScreenshot from app.connect.com

After my map had been generated, I knew that a significant number of people weren’t in the right places. Beyond that, the search functionality is probably the most useful feature. You can enter multiple search terms at once, for example, NYU students in Prague who like writing, or high school classmates in Cincinnati. From my cursory exploration, I don’t think that Connect is a service I’ll want to use. My personal social network isn’t so big that I need a glorified, web-based address book to manage it, but with new platforms appearing all the time, maybe one day it will be.

Featured image is author’s own.

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2 thoughts on “Connect App Networks Your Networks

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