Did you just get cut off? Is a professional driver behaving badly? Was your car towed? Or better, did you see a cute driver (or a really cool car) in the next lane?
CarPong is a fun an innovative idea that allows users to send messages to other drivers by using their car's license plate number. Like blog commenting for vehicles, this service lets drivers write messages to other drivers, read what others have said about them and search for notes about other drivers. It's an interesting way to make our cars - and the people in them - a lot more connected in real life, and it just might work.
Car-to-car communiques remain one of the last frontiers for messaging services and one of the few environments where people are still inside isolationist social bubbles. On the Internet, we've mostly shed the goofy pseudonyms and nondescript avatars of the You've Got Mail era in exchange for real connections between real people.
CarPong is exciting because it turns the highways and byways into a sort of chat room.
One user called out a license plate of a European spec Ford Fiesta - which might be one of Ford's special social media fleet. Another sends a helpful hint to a fellow driver to invest in some new tires quickly.
By and large, the site is so far a litany of complaints about others' bad driving habits. Still, by removing the anonymity of the road, this kind of messaging might encourage more human, more mindful and even kinder driver behavior.
Founder Tony Mastrorio wrote us to say, "I am working on getting towing companies to notify car owners when their car has been towed, where they can pick it up and the associated fee. This aspect alone would make the service very useful for many people."
He'd also like the site to work a bit like the "How's My Driving" signs we see on commercial vehicles. An enterprise-level CRM platform might also provide a good revenue stream.
Currently, the site lacks the national or regional userbase of millions it would need to be truly useful. But I can see this idea spreading like wildfire if drivers like the idea of having a virtual complaints/comments box for those with whom they share the road.
On the other hand, there's something about the encoded and regulated nature of license plates that lead one to a certain expectation of privacy. As with linking our real names, identities, careers, birth dates and even home addresses to our online personas, there may be some initial resistance to adding our license plates to that mix. Currently on the site, plates and profiles are not linked, but users can see all comments associated with other users and any reported license plate.
How do you feel: Would this kind of transparency about who we are on the road lead to better and more personal communication between drivers? Or are our vehicles and driving records best left to principalities more private than the Internet? Let us know what you think in the comments.