PlaceSite creates a local community site for coffeeshops and other physical locations frequented by WiFiers, with presence indicators to tell your friends when you’re in the house.
According to Wired News it’s a new project by Sean Savage of FlashMob fame. It’s currently being tested in some cafes in San Francisco. The intention is to have a free version for cafes and a more fully-featured commercial version for conferences.
It will be interesting to see whether there are characteristics of some cafe-based communities which make it catch on in some locations and not others. I would think that the size of the community, the prevalence of WiFi use, and perhaps the lifestyle habits and average travel time of community members would make a big difference. The cafes I frequent in Austin are small enough that a quick scan of a couple of rooms is enough to tell you whether your friends are there. On the other hand, if the presence indicators are visible from offsite and if the community is based on foot traffic, I could imagine popping over to the cafe if I was at home and noticed that a friend was there.
And then there’s the Lovegetty idea: let strangers tag their interests so you know when someone shows up who’d be up for a game of chess (or even something more, uh, strenuous).
I haven’t dug into it far enough to know which of these features it actually incorporates.