We’re back into the swing of things for 2010, and I’d like to write about a couple of things I’ve seen in the last 12 months in the digital world. I don’t like to do predictions because the web moves so fast and technology is changing at such a fast pace. But I’d like to tell you about services I am using and what I want to use more of. I’m going to start with Foursquare in 2010.
The reason that I am writing this post is because I went to a presentation on the future of digital in 2008 and one of the speakers was Michael Kordahi, Microsoft Evangelist for Microsoft Surface which I have previously blogged about. One thing that stood out was how he said he had to bring his clients along with him for the journey, as he’s often so far ahead and in a different space. He does that with his blog and that’s what I am trying to do too!
An app that I’ve been using quite a lot in the last few months is Foursquare. I’ve actually been wanting to write about this for a while but I wanted to evaluate the service for a few months first.
I had signed up about 6 months before it was available in Australia and there were only a few Aussies on the network. I must admit that I sign up to a lot of services that I hear about on tech blogs. I’m one of those people that like to experiment. I noticed a lot of them were tweeting about it on one day and some had added me – that’s when I realised it was available in Aus. There were a flurry of blog posts from local tech / internet peers in the few days after it was released in Australia.
I could see that there was a lot of potential. Foursquare is a location based social networks where you could update your location using your mobile. I was already using my mobile a lot to update my status using facebook and twitter. I also noticed that a lot of my friends were updating with location based tweets/fb updates saying which restaurant they were at, which country they were travelling to, etc….. Everywhere I was going, particularly on the trains, out in the clubs/bars, people were accessing the internet on their smart phones and logging into facebook/twitter with location based information. It just made sense. I was already experimenting with Google Latitude, BrightKite, and then GoWalla so I could see the space was hotting up.
Where are your friends and what are they doing?
The thing I like about foursquare is that you can see where your friends are and what they are doing. Often when you are out, you might just miss them. The next time you see them you’re like “I can’t believe you were there! I was there too!” or “You just missed me!” or you call them and ask “Where are you tonight?”. With foursquare, I know exactly where they are (if they choose to disclose this information). I can find out new venues which my friends are checking out, and it encourages me to go there too.
There are also some other interesting outcomes. An example from last Friday, I was at the Arthouse for my high school reunion. One of my colleagues was meeting up with another friend at Arthouse. He saw on foursquare that I was there! So he walked around looking for me, and I found him!
You choose to follow people in your network and I try to find similar minded people and see where they hang out. I also like seeing who else has checked-in to a venue. So social networking is an important element in Foursquare.
You can also get tips at venues ala eatability. I love going to a restaurant, check-in to a venue and reading the tips other people have left. One of my favourite restaurants at the moment is Chat Thai, in Sydney’s chinatown. I read a tip on Foursquare to try out the strawberry blend. I did and it was awesome! If I eat something which I like, or have a tip on my favourite dish on a venue or even a bad experience, I will write about it on foursquare. I also leave tips which other people may find helpful. For example, at Museum station, I left a note saying that some of the entrances close at 8pm (it might be earlier), but thats useful for people to know.
Gameplay addiction – The checkins
Another element that is quite addictive and in my opinion makes it standout is the gameplay. When you enter a venue, you can checkin. You find the location using your phone – it will pull up a list of nearby locations or you can enter your own. After that, you choose to check-in to show you are there and it will notify your network. You get points for checking in. If you have 3 or more checkins, you can become Mayor of the venue. That is, if no one else is already Mayor. If someone else has more checkins, you have to have more than them to take over as Mayor.
In fact, I’ve been battling for control of Museum station for some time now! Another user had 10+ checkins at Musuem, so I decided to check-in twice a day (when I arrived in the morning and left at night). I became Mayor and then someone else overtook me. Now I have to get back on top again!! That keeps me coming back to Foursquare.
I’m currently holding down two mayor-ships (is that a word?). I’ve the mayor of Equilibrium (World Square Pub) and Bikaner Namkeen. I’ve actually reached super-user level 1, so I have the authority to edit and merge venues, which I intend to do with World Square Pub.
You also get points for checkins, but I don’t really care too much about the points. What I do care about is the badges. There are different badges for various purposes. Your first checkin gets you the “newbie” badge. Then there are badges for 10 checkins, 25, and 50 (they must be unique venues). The interesting ones are “local” (3 x in one week), “crunked” (4+ checkins in one night), and my favourite “player please” (checkin with 3 members of the opposite sex).
If you want a good post about the check-ins which foursquare pioneered, read this from the Scobelizer, someone I respect who blogs about the social networking space and the web in general. He talks about how the other social networking services are going to start adopting checkins as well, including Facebook, Twitter and Yelp.
Opportunities for business
There are some exciting opportunities for business. Potentially they can send out location sensitive offers. If you happen to walk past a venue, they could push out a notification with an offer to entice you in e.g. free entree with every meal. Alternatively, offer discounts to people that checkin. I’ve seen examples in the US of offering discounts to people that are Mayors of venues.
I must admit I’ve become a bit of a mini-evangelist for foursquare. I have convinced several people from work to sign up as well as some of my friends and associates. Now that I’ve got a fair amount of people on the service, its becoming a lot more useful. So don’t delay, signup!
I’m out like threesquare,