foursquare_2010-02-01_013022Most people who at least have a facebook account have heard of foursquare. For most people, they’re introduced to foursquare when several facebook friends seem to regularly post where they are at with a tiny URL pointing to exactly where they are on the map. Just a little bit annoying.

Foursquare came out in 2009 at South by Southwest. South by Southwest, commonly referred to as SXSW is a cool tech conference where new technologies like Twitter and WordPress are often launched. Most people, including myself at first, don’t really get foursquare. The things people say about foursquare are almost identical to the thins people said about twitter when it first came out. “Why would I want to know where everyone is? I don’t get it. I don’t know how this is going to help me in any way.” I can’t say I have many good answers to these questions, but to a very small degree it feels the way twitter did in the early days.

To some degree, foursquare is more like a game than twitter was/is. Every time you visit any location, you can “check in,” literally letting the software know you were physically there. You’re given the option to make a comment about your check-in, leave a hint (maybe a recommendation that people who check in in the future will see… like don’t order the nachos) or tie foursquare to your twitter/facebook accounts so friends see all of your check ins. You can also “shout” which basically sends a message to all your foursquare friends. In your foursquare application, you can see the activity of all your foursquare friends. The game portion comes from badges and mayor-ships. When you check into a certain location two times more than any other person, you become the mayor. You can be de-throned if someone else checks in more than you. In addition, you can collect game “merit badges” for visiting specific places in certain orders or checking into the same kind of venue with specific frequency.

Although the game is fun, the interesting components are the parts about location based tracking of friends activities. If you have a lot of local friends on foursquare, it makes it much easier to simply meet up with someone for lunch. In addition, restaurants and venues get a better idea of who their best customers are. Some give special discounts or services to mayors. Last of all, people who leave tips often help create a better experience. At this point the user base is still small. I got to see a little bit of the power of foursquare at SXSW when hanging out with Matt McKee. We were easily able to follow and connect with some of Matt’s friends using foursquare. I see this being really helpful at Orange to know where friends are at any given time.

You may find this app a total waste of time, whoever I’m still intrigued. It’s like Twitter, we’ll see what happens at time goes by.