I’ve been trying out Dopplr in beta for the last few weeks and thought I’d my impressions of the service, as well as a few wishlist items I’d love to see it have.
Dopplr (named after Christian Doppler but with the obligatory missing-vowel-of-web-2.0) allows you to share travel information with others.
You enter your basic profile information, including home city, and then add trips. Adding a trip means providing a destination, start date, end date, and optional note.
Once you’ve added some trips, Dopplr shows them to you in a iist or as a map:
But where it really gets interesting is that you can choose to share your trips with other people – and they can share their trips with you. (Dopplr calls those folks “Fellow Travellers” – does that have no political baggage in the UK?)
This enables Dopplr to tell me, for example, that Dave Gynn and I will both be in Portland the week of OSCON. Actually that’s a bad example, as I already knew that. But as the network grows in size and breadth, Dopplr can tell me when people I know are visiting my home city, when I am in their home city, or when both of us are in some third location.
Right now the network is still building, as they are in invite-only beta. The facebook app should help build the network of users, and each new user gets 10 invites to send to those they want to share trips with.
A few wishlist items that Dopplr doesn’t do well today:
- Handle times of arrival and departure. If I’m arriving in NY at 10pm and someone else is departing at 10am, it’s hardly likely we’ll connect. You can work around this by using the notes field, but I think these should be (optional) structured data.
- Handle multi-leg trips explicitly. The Dopplr data entry screen seems to assume round trip. You get just a start date and an end date. You can string together multiple legs of a journey, but there’s no way I can see to indicate continuing on.
- Import itineraries. I’d love to see Dopplr import itineraries from major sites – either leveraging the “email this itinerary to someone” that most airlines provide today or accepting ical/outlook files. There’s no reason for me to enter this data – there ought to be a universal format for this stuff.
- More granular settings for home cities. I live in Newburyport MA and work in Boston. But I live closer to Portsmouth NH. So I set my home city to Boston since it seems the most relevant to what I am interested in – but why shouldn’t I be able to watch other cities? Or let people know that I’m not actually in Boston itself.
- Let me input past data. I’d love to see, for example, all my 2006 travel, or H1 of 2006 against H1 of 2007.
- Offer more visualizations. What would happen if there were a Many Eyes like system for Dopplr data – my own, or even the aggregate travel of all users, or all users in my network? Might result in some unexpected discoveries.
That said, however, the site has the necessary functionality already in place today to be useful.
I’ve still got a few invites, so let me know if you’re interested in trying it out.