There are a few reasons why I’ve been reticent to write about the social media app Sonar, despite all the hype. First, I didn’t have an iPhone/iPad. So as much as I wanted to write about it, I didn’t feel qualified. Second, founder & CEO Brett Martin is a dear friend of mine from the days when we played in a wild indie rock band together (yes, it’s true). But last week, my iPad arrived.

Sonar is built off the foursquare API, like many other location based apps. But what makes it great is that it’s not trying to stand alone, fighting to be the next app to change all apps. It can actually REDUCE the number of apps in your life. With the flurry of competing social media platforms, people are really asking for ways to simplify these days. In an era where people are asking ON Google+ why they need it if they have Facebook (for the record I disagree), Sonar will not only tweet your location and whatever brilliant/witty idea you have at the time, but it tells you about your connections with the people around you. Logging in from home, I saw that at the movie theater next to me, there were 5 people there with connections to me. In fact, several had more than 4 friends on Facebook in common. That floored me then and there. Why?

I’m one of those people that already loves connecting people. I’m a node, in network speak. I often do it on a global scale, particularly after my years of backpacking and living abroad, with the best memories coming from either random connections (I met my boyfriend at a hostel in Bolivia) or by getting the most out of my social networks at the time. I remember the moment when people stopped sharing e-mail addresses and started writing down their real names and saying “Find me on Facebook.” To me, it was a revolution.

The end of geographical network listing on Facebook was bad news for my backpacking. It was a lot harder to discover for example, that my college roommate’s ex-boyfriend was now in Jakarta, and if I hadn’t known that, we wouldn’t have had the shared memory of him vomiting off the roof of the Ritz Jakarta from the room of the hotel manager. I’m pretty sure Sonar replaces this need in a far more efficient way than the awkward geographical network setting on Facebook that most people never knew existed.

So, if you don’t have Sonar, you’re missing out on something useful and/or voyeuristically cool. More so because it relates to you. You can also easily send messages via Sonar to these new friends in common, who are pulled from your public data on Twitter, Facebook and more platforms coming soon–you can debate whether this is awesome or creepy. If after reading this however, you just want to follow the wild trajectories of my whereabouts, find me on Twitter.

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  1. […] and fun app that checks you in and shows your hidden connections with those around you, check out Sonar. It’s especially great for the types of clustered locations shown at the Here:Now […]

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