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Color, a new social networking app that does away with privacy

It was only a matter of time before a network was created for people who have no privacy issues and believe that all information should be available at anytime to anyone. It’s a social network called Color for the “post-PC world” according to its founder Bill Nguyen, who was also one on the people behind music service Lala, which was bought by Apple in 2009 before it closed it down in April 2010.

Speaking to the Huffington Post, Nguyen said “As tech causes cultural changes, we’re going to live so much more of our lives in public. There’s private stuff and there’s public stuff. Decide which kind of information you want to share and then launch the appropriate app for that.”

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Fundamentally, Color is an iPhone and Android app for public photo and video-sharing. But it dispenses with the usual mechanisms of sharing via friends and followers as exemplified on Twitter and Facebook. Instead, according to leading tech blog Mashable, “Color chooses which pictures you see based on your location and how often you’re sharing photos with someone else. Every photo and video is public, not only to the people you consider your friends, but to any stranger within your proximity.”

The technology is breathtaking. Mashable again: “[Color] doesn’t simply use the GPS to figure out your location, but it uses your camera to determine lighting and your microphone to hone in on ambient noise. By matching these environmental conditions, Color is shockingly accurate at determining who’s in the room with you and even where they are in relation to your position.”

It’s an intriguing concept which places a lot of power and responsibility with the app itself. When you launch the app, you instantly receive a stream of content from anyone within 100 feet of you. The app builds your network for you, by recognising other users in your immediate vicinity, so that “every time two friends use the app near each other, Color’s algorithms detect it and use it to essentially rank your friendship.” You can also influence your network by asking the app to “show more” of a particular’s person’s content. And the less you view someone’s content, the less they appear in your stream.

Color Demo from Color Labs, Inc. on Vimeo.

Of course, there is a huge danger in creating media which is available to everyone. If you decide on a whim to take sexy or embarassing photos with your phone, you need to be aware that there is a huge chance they will go public in no time. Color is potentially a celebrity’s worst nightmare.

Nevertheless, the proximity-based social network is attracting some heavyweight attention, including US$41-millions in venture capital funding. Doug Leone of Sequoia Capital, one of the investors says “Once or twice a decade a company emerges from Silicon Valley that can change everything. Color is one of those companies.”

Where the app will find its best use is still unclear, but as a visual diary, a way to meet new people and a seamless way of sharing media with a group, it has a lot of potential. It will also be watched closely to see how people respond to such a complete lack of privacy and whether they embrace it with the same gusto they have with other more restrictive networks.

Perhaps it’s creator understands it best. “This is like TIVO-ing life. There’s no forgetting,” Nguyen said. “I think it’s the best, most complete way of having a record of your life. It’s your life crowdsourced.”

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