Camden-pictureIn Baltimore, everything slid to a halt today. Companies let their employees leave early on a Monday and $8 for a hot dog covered in Old Bay and three kinds of cheese is considered reasonable. Only yesterday it snowed, hailed, sleeted and rained, but TODAY is gorgeous. The streets are packed and vibrating with energy.

Why? It’s Opening Day.

For those unfamiliar with the tradition, it’s the Orioles first game of the 2014 baseball season against the Boston Red Sox. Downtown bars decorated with Baltimore’s own Nattie Boh logo are packed beyond the fire-safe occupancy numbers and crowds spill into street. It’s chaos. And people love it.

My favorite part? Many of these people don’t even care about baseball. It’s the power of WHERE that keeps these people coming back year after year, game after game. Even though technology has changed the type and frequency of face to face interaction, we’re still out there and getting our social fixes in other ways. This is proof.

I’m not there, but the grandiose number of SnapChats, Instagram pics, Facebook posts, and text messages are keeping my phone buzzing. I’m starting to see ads about the Orioles on various sites and I’m craving Old Bay. I’m even thinking that orange might not be the worst color on the planet.

Every time I receive a picture, the number of cell phones evident in the snapshot is sneaking up on the number of people packed into the tight row house bars. Sure, these people love to be there, but they also love sharing that they’re there and maximizing their experience – maybe this part even more. Phones are in their hands and beers might be tucked into a back pocket if two hands aren’t enough. If you’re not at Pickles Pub, you’re doing it wrong.

The opportunities for this day to be dramatically different and yet better next year are abundant. People are carrying around incredibly smart devices and itching for the next notification, the next tip of something cool happening around the corner, the special on orange aluminum bottles of summer flavored refreshment for the next 30 minutes in the VIP section. There is already so much one can speculate about these devices located in vicinity of Camden Yards – the user likes baseball, likes social events, took off work, doesn’t work on Monday, lives in Baltimore, is staying in Baltimore tonight, etc. Would a user like to know the stamp on their hand for being at Pickles Pub will get them 15% off an Orioles t-shirt inside? Yes. Would a user want to know this if they’re stuck in a nearby cab trying to get away from the Stadium and back to work in time for their meeting in 10 minutes? No.

Location is everything. Tips or notifications aren’t useful and can be downright annoying if they aren’t contextually significant. There’s the one celebrating opening day that wants to continue the party with their friends and can do so with a special rate for 3+ rooms at the nearby hotel; this user gets the notification because they live out of town. Who already knows this personal information? Your phone; after all, it’s always at your side. I can’t wait to see what will be next.

Play on!