Saturday, February 20, 2010

Foursquare: Not Ridiculous?

I've been watching the Winter Olympics this week and was curious about the Foursquare/New York Times partnership recently announced. It's a no-brainer to figure out how this is lucrative for businesses: recommendations on local eateries, attractions, shopping and nightlife are featured "posts" so that Foursquare nerds can 'check-in' to at least two recommended venues to 'unlock' the New York Times Olympics badge. A really cool mash-up!

If I were in Vancouver I would definitely be checking the posts (done by about 1500 "friends" of the NY Times")such as:
@ Vancouver Olympic Centre: Check out the aboriginal art that will be installed as part of the Vancouver 2010 Venues Aboriginal Arts Program. OR

@ Dup's Burritos: If you can finish a “Phatty,” the two-pound burrito, they’ll put your picture on the wall. Or, try the Canadian spin on Mexi-fries, hash browns with beef, cheese, salsa and guacamole.

That said, I am still trying to wrap my head around Foursquare. Users check-in with Foursquare to notify others of where they shops, bakeries, bars, parks, homes, offices. It's a tool to let others find you and also recommend places to go and things to do nearby. People can also earn points and badges for discovering new things. So, I totally get this from a marketing standpoint.

Foursquare also enables users to automatically share their check-ins, 'mayorships'(frequent customer status) and unlocked badges (like merit badges) with Facebook. Foursquare’s Facebook integration works for BlackBerry, Android devices, Palm Pre,iphone and ipad devices (and via mobile web). Folks are furiously developing web apps to enhance the experience, such as SocialGreat which grabs check-in data from Foursquare, couples it with Twitter and BrightKite geodata, and shows you what places in your neighborhood are hot spots. What if you want to find out about special deals at your favorite places? yipit is a handy application which imports your usual haunts from Foursquare and then keeps tabs on specials at those venues for you. Coming soon! Layar Reality Browser: This one adds a Foursquare layer to the augmented reality browser. Basically, you point your camera at a building, and it tells you who’s there, who’s the "mayor" (most frequent customer), and what advice/tips were left behind.

Maybe I've seen too many episodes of "America's Most Wanted", but I am creeped out by the possibility of stalkers and weirdos, robbers and other assorted nut jobs who may know someone is not home and who also may want to meet them for nefarious purposes. However,I am trying to keep an open mind and found value with Foursquare after reading today's New York Times article-- Past Twitter: This App Makes a City Come Alive I resonate with the sentiment expressed, [Foursquare has] “changed the way I consume things in the offline world.” The local neighborhood recommendations do lend accessibility to unknown parts of a city. I am fascinated by the possibilities for exploration and by the "get off the couch and learn something" aspect. To learn more, follow Mashable's articles on FourSquare.

For now, I will be content to become a stalker on Foursquare, lurking on the sidelines, not yet fully engaged in mobsourcing.

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