My three issues with Foursquare.

Foursquare mobile on Opera Mini

I first heard about Foursquare last summer, when one of my fellow N97 24/7 bloggers informed me that he had just become the mayor of the hotel we had just checked into.

Huh?

Back home in front of my monitor I watched with dismay as an increasing number of Foursquare tweets spread through my Twitter stream like a kind of cancer.

“I’m at Starbucks.”

“I’m the Mayor of Jack in the Box.”

“I just unlocked the Overshare badge!”

It got so bad that I was honestly grateful for the devious site Please Rob Me — though not actually a threat to anyone’s safety or belongings I thought it might at least scare some people away from polluting the rest of the Internet with their Foursquare links.

But thanks to a little schooling by the inimitable James Whatley, I’ve come to better understand my three major issues with Foursquare and my friends who use it…

Problem the first: Context

Okay, so you’ve checked in at Starbucks, and you’ve felt the need to share that info with me on Twitter or Facebook — or more accurately you’ve probably set up Foursquare to blast your checkins out to wherever. That’s your choice, but unless I’m meeting you there this information is only really relevant to me if you explain why you’re there in the first place.

We’re already Internet friends, which means I’ve already parsed you from the masses of mindless mouth-breathers out there, so you’ve passed the first test. Why not take this opportunity to share just a little bit more? For example, while on the road last week I ended up at Starbucks myself pretty much every morning because the coffee the hotels I stayed at was consistently awful. Are you in the same boat? Or is there some tasty confection that ‘bucks offers in your part of the world that I don’t know about? Such things provide value to an otherwise uninteresting check-box event.

Problem the second: Missed Opportunities

I was largely unaware that shopkeepers in the US an UK are regularly in the practice of handing out rewards to Foursquare users. And as a regular user of almost two weeks I have yet to come across a single Canadian business doing the same.

Until this changes, a big part of Foursquare’s appeal is entirely lost on me.

Problem the third: Modern Life is (mostly) Rubbish

This one’s all about me. I was all over sharing the minutiae of a twice-in-a-lifetime blogger’s dream come true, but back at home I’ve come to realize that my comings and goings are mostly unremarkable. And since there are no local venues savvy enough to capitalize on my loyalty via Foursquare I’ll probably refrain from using it until the circumstances warrant.

Is there a badge for that?

18 comments:

  1. I love TweetDeck’s integration w/ Foursquare. Mostly because i can relegate all checkins to their own column, and it takes ALL announcements out of the general stream. More clients should offer this kind of feature.

  2. I love TweetDeck’s integration w/ Foursquare. Mostly because i can relegate all checkins to their own column, and it takes ALL announcements out of the general stream. More clients should offer this kind of feature.

  3. That’s a neat feature.

    I don’t think think a little behavioral modification for Foursquare users would hurt either, though. 😉

  4. That’s a neat feature.

    I don’t think think a little behavioral modification for Foursquare users would hurt either, though. 😉

  5. Not available in my part of the world, but all the same, it’s a service I’m not sure I’ll use either. This is wholly due to point number 2 above.

    Unless telling the bazillions of people of Central Earth that I’ve checked in at X place rewards me with some intrinsic value, count me out. That’s probably just me anyway 🙂

  6. Not available in my part of the world, but all the same, it’s a service I’m not sure I’ll use either. This is wholly due to point number 2 above.

    Unless telling the bazillions of people of Central Earth that I’ve checked in at X place rewards me with some intrinsic value, count me out. That’s probably just me anyway 🙂

  7. In my opinion, it also makes more sense if you have lots of local followers on either Foursquare, Twitter, or Facebook. I’m always checking out other Foursquare users who’ve checked in at locations I have trying to find interesting people to connect with. At the same time though, I agree a lot of it can be mundane–not everyone can always be checking into all the cool places all the time. 🙂

  8. In my opinion, it also makes more sense if you have lots of local followers on either Foursquare, Twitter, or Facebook. I’m always checking out other Foursquare users who’ve checked in at locations I have trying to find interesting people to connect with. At the same time though, I agree a lot of it can be mundane–not everyone can always be checking into all the cool places all the time. 🙂

  9. I guess the specific app you’re using to access Foursquare would also be a factor.

    For example, the mobile website shown in the post is probably the most tedious way to check-in (it’s not GPS-aware) but perhaps the most conducive to contextual info, aka “shouts”.

  10. I guess the specific app you’re using to access Foursquare would also be a factor.

    For example, the mobile website shown in the post is probably the most tedious way to check-in (it’s not GPS-aware) but perhaps the most conducive to contextual info, aka “shouts”.

  11. I have a lot of issues with Foursquare but my biggest is just how narcissistic it seems (Hey! Look at me! I’m over here! HERE! LOOK!). Gah.

    That said, as to point the second, Serious Coffee, a chain in the Victoria and Southern Vancouver Island area has been doing “Mayor Mondays” where the 4sq mayor gets a free coffee on check-in.

  12. I have a lot of issues with Foursquare but my biggest is just how narcissistic it seems (Hey! Look at me! I’m over here! HERE! LOOK!). Gah.

    That said, as to point the second, Serious Coffee, a chain in the Victoria and Southern Vancouver Island area has been doing “Mayor Mondays” where the 4sq mayor gets a free coffee on check-in.

  13. [quote]In my opinion, it also makes more sense if you have lots of local followers on either Foursquare, Twitter, or Facebook.[/quote]

    For a long time, I’ve been asking for a “proximity filter” that would allow me to only see checkins that are nearby. In my twitter stream, 4sq does this already, but only for friends.

  14. [quote]In my opinion, it also makes more sense if you have lots of local followers on either Foursquare, Twitter, or Facebook.[/quote]

    For a long time, I’ve been asking for a “proximity filter” that would allow me to only see checkins that are nearby. In my twitter stream, 4sq does this already, but only for friends.

  15. Interesting observations and a good read, to which I’d like to add one of my own suggestions, namely that I see services like these not as much as location tracking services, or as a means to update your friends as to where you are (a tweet could do that too), but as a scrapbook of places you have visited.

    Gowalla, which I use, does that well by calling your check-in list your ‘passport’. True location is something that latitude handles for me, and anyone following me there can easily check my current whereabouts through that.

    For this reason, Foursquare and Gowalla should have the option to only autotweet *first* check-ins and leave the subsequent instances as archived material for business owners and maniacs who want to know even more.

    All in all then, if you take these things into consideration, this is where your remarks would work best: share a check-in if it is relevant and add context, and keep the track record as something for the statisticians.

    Hm, sorry, long reply — it always happens to me.

  16. Interesting observations and a good read, to which I’d like to add one of my own suggestions, namely that I see services like these not as much as location tracking services, or as a means to update your friends as to where you are (a tweet could do that too), but as a scrapbook of places you have visited.

    Gowalla, which I use, does that well by calling your check-in list your ‘passport’. True location is something that latitude handles for me, and anyone following me there can easily check my current whereabouts through that.

    For this reason, Foursquare and Gowalla should have the option to only autotweet *first* check-ins and leave the subsequent instances as archived material for business owners and maniacs who want to know even more.

    All in all then, if you take these things into consideration, this is where your remarks would work best: share a check-in if it is relevant and add context, and keep the track record as something for the statisticians.

    Hm, sorry, long reply — it always happens to me.

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