500 Words About Foursquare

Foursquare opened itself up recently.  It’s been around for a while, but was limited to large or strategic tech/hipster cities.  It’s a service that allows users to check-in at places and share those places with friends. Along with checking in, there are stats around how often you check-in at particular places and other ways to score points.  In my circle of Twitter friends, there have been discussions of etiquette and rules that have gotten me to think through how I see it. Aside from there not being a BlackBerry app for Foursquare, I think it’s a pretty interesting service.

The Question of Twitter & Facebook
Foursquare gives you the options to have your check-ins, and other scoring events posted automatically to your Twitter feed or your Facebook status update.  If you are on either of those social networks, you may have seen messages that say something like “Johnny Lawrence just became mayor of the Cobra Kai Dojo”.  Much like Twitter and Facebook, there are no written rules to Twitter or Facebook, it’s clear there are some unwritten rules, or in the least, things that can quickly make your follower list deplete. I’ve never been a fan of people that cross post between Facebook and Twitter or other services like Twitterfeed that take actions on another network and blast your Twitter followers with likely impersonal information.  While I have friends in common between Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, 8tracks, etc., I think of them as separate social networks.  I think we all know how annoying Facebook can be when a particular application catches on and gets used and becomes noise like an alarm clock too early in the day. However unlike Facebook, where you have the option to block a particular application from mucking up your experience, in Twitter your only option is to unfollow people who pollute your feed with robotic, impersonal posts. But unfollowing isn’t a very good remedy because you might get good content from that person 80% of the time.  Until Twitter allows followers to block tweets from a particular user using a particular application, I will not post my Foursquare activity to anything but Foursquare.

The Question of Public & Private Places
Foursquare is the Wild West when it comes to Anchorage destinations.  I’m sure the same goes for the “cool” cities in the beginnings.  There is not one word from Foursquare about what qualifies as a “place.”  I’ve seen private residences, workplaces, grocery stores, malls, etc. go by in people’s check-ins.  Seeing as this is a social tool, my usage will be limited to social places (restaurants, coffee shops, bars, music venues, etc.).  I’m sure this will not prove an effective strategy for dominating the Anchorage leaderboard, but that’s not of value to me.

When it comes down to it, all of these online social networking things are pretty silly, but they are a way of life now and a way to communicate. The more we use these things and talk about how to use these things the better, especially when there are no written rules. The bottom line comes from the often quoted rules of comedy, it’s always important to know your audience.

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