Carpong: Riding With Your SMS On

“Have you ever wanted to say something to the driver of the car in front of you?  Maybe tell him he is a lunatic behind the wheel?” Yes.

“Or tell that girl in the car next to you that you think she’s hot?” Sure, but I was 20.

“Tell that guy his brake lights are out or the owner of the parked car that he sucks for taking up two spots?” Yup.

Now I can do all these things in public, with CarPong, “a social network that lets you send messages to other drivers.” Members post messages about other drivers on the Carpong site, using the other driver’s license plate to identify whom they are talking about. If the other driver is following their license plate on Carpong, he or she will receive an email alerting him of comments. Members and non-members can also see what other people are saying about them by typing in their license plate number on the site. It’s anonymous to the extent no one can see what you are writing about anyone else and, per most sites that enable conversation, only your user name and profile are visible. And, of course, it’s free.

So now I can “say” all those things I always said in the car, with the windows closed or perhaps open, at speed or stopped dead in traffic, when I’ve had a bad day, only other people can actually “hear” them now, just not necessarily in real time. (You can see messages in real time if you are using a smartphone while driving, but that is unsafe and illegal in many US states, some Canadian provinces, and many countries.)

Lots of the posts (go here) are exactly what you’d expect: criticism of other people’s driving skills. There is no shortage of bad drivers or people who are inattentive or just make mistakes. If someone saw a crime being committed – such as hit and run – and got the license plate, this might be useful, but I’d imagine they’d call the police first.

Advertisers I saw included an insurance company, Kaplan University (for criminal justice degrees), a local (to me) car dealer, local personal injury lawyers, the Nexus One, and a local law firm specializing in DWI and motor vehicle defense, which indicates that someone is seeing value in being visible on a site that is populated by drivers. If millions of people sign up and use this site, it may become a good place to site your online ad if you provide services or products to this huge population. Note: There were “250,844,644 registered passenger vehicles in the US in 2006,” according to Wikipedia, which cites the US Bureau of Traffic Statistics.

One of the founders, Tony Mastrorio, says he is trying to get towing companies to use Carpong to tell drivers when their cars have been towed and how to find them. (Might work, but why not try Twitter first?)

This looks like fun, but not much more than fun at this point. Let’s hope no one gets angry enough about what’s written about them to try to connect profile with posting. Let’s also hope no one you are writing about has a friend that’s on Carpong and can find you behind them or next to them.

Anyway, I was angry when I left: no one has posted about me.