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paisano

Mashable’s startup review for TigerBow has raised a few questions regarding the subject of privacy and security online. This is a service that will allow anyone to send a real gift (movie or book at this time) to anyone they want via an email address or social networking ID such as their Facebook name. The gimmick is that you’ll be able to receive things without having to divulge your actual address which is nice when it comes to security. However, something about it bothers some people. They feel a little uneasy about this prospect of allowing potential strangers to send you things with someone easily attained such as email addresses and social media names which are splattered all over blogs and websites everywhere.

Tigerbow isn’t the first to do this virtual to reality delivery trick. I remember SocialFlowers being one of the first services that allowed people to ship to unknown addresses from within social networks. The way they did it was by
being the middleman that brokered the deal, much like PayPal distributes money from the buyer’s real bank account to the seller’s real bank account. SocialFlowers did the same thing but instead of handling money, they managed the real addresses of both parties, providing the cloak of anonymity for both parties involved in the transaction.

There are other services now like You Got Beer that let you send things like beer to others across the country. There are also many Facebook apps that do the same thing, and not just beer but also other items such as flowers, candy and more.

This crossover behavior has infiltrated the microblogging world as well with services such as TrackThis which lets members of Twitter receive notifications in real-time of real-world shipment updates for packages. Also, as everyone has witnessed by the deluge of new followers, there are increasing numbers of brick and mortar establishments jumping on Twitter to setup shop. Rumor has it that we will be able to place orders on Amazon from Twitter directly with a tweet. The same will happen with all types of businesses someday soon.

Now that there are services such as TigerBow and SocialFlowers that have become in essence the middle man between the virtual world (social networks) and the real world (customers), then whose to say that a microblogging platform such as twitter couldn’t also be the broker for such deals? Companies took a leap of face many years ago when they allowed customers to place orders with faxes and then even riskier emails. Why wouldn’t they go a step further and embrace the current standards of communication (social media, social networking, microblogging)?

I firmly believe that we will be able to place orders not only with a tweet on Twitter for anything we want but also instant messages. As long as the social identities can be verified and confirmed and ultimately linked to some form of financial account (PayPal or bank account), then there shouldn’t be any problems with doing business with people on Microblogs, any instant messenger or social network. If they want to keep their real address a mystery to the business then so be it. As long as payments are made and products or services have been delivered then what does it matter?

The thin line between virtual and reality continues to blur and fade. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? What do you think? Does it matter if the sender knows your real address or not?

P.S. Earlier this year, a business partner and I came close to launching a service in ultra stealth mode where we planned to allow people to place orders for anything they wanted (pizza, coffee, flowers, etc.) via twitter or even instant messenger. However, we backed out due to several factors including not only the gloomy economy but also because we found a great deal of services that failed trying to let customers place orders online for one reason or another. I still believe without a doubt this type of service will succeed someday soon if done right.

Doriano, A.K.A. Paisano or Pai to his friends on Twitter and elsewhere, has been in the I.T. Industry ever since the MS-DOS 6.22 days. Besides his day job as an IT Admin he also writes for Mashable.com as well as his own tech blog (http://ThePaisano.com) and ocassional guest posts elsewhere. His favorite service is Twitter where you can find him as @Paisano (What else?)

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