I’ve been fiddling with the mobile location-based social networking game Foursquare for a few months now. The concept is simple: as you move around a city you ‘check in’ to locations. You can see where your friends last checked in, and you can add comments as you go. But does it have journalistic uses? I think it does. Here are just 4:
1. Finding contacts
Until recently I refrained from pressing the ‘Tell Twitter’ or ‘Tell Facebook’ buttons when I checked into a location. However, that changed when I realised what happens when you do.
In one example, David Nikel, a political candidate in Birmingham, ‘checked in’ at Birmingham New Street train station 5 minutes after I had. Although I hadn’t ‘shared’ my check in via Twitter, because Nikel did, his automatically generated tweet said that I was there too. This alerted me and led to us meeting.
2. Social capital
Foursquare plugs into your existing social networks but adds an extra layer of information. If you know that John spends a lot of time at Urban Coffee Co you can make a point to go there yourself more often, or at least have it as a potential conversation-opener.
Users can add ‘tips’ to locations – a feature which is currently underused but has potential for leads as well as…
Foursquare has already signed deals with Metro in Canada, Bravo TV and the FT. The potential is obvious: content directly relevant to your location. The big issue for Foursquare is whether it can achieve the scale that most publishers need.
How about you? Are using Foursquare or one of the other location based social networks, such as Brightkite or Gowalla – and how has it been useful?
I’m pretty sure I ‘get’ Foursquare but my attempts to experiment with it have been sabotaged by it’s borked IPhone App #fail
Beware the Foursquare Cops. Ever vigilant, always watching, everywhere.
I would also add spotting geo-trends. Are a large amount of people checking in to one location? Why?
Good point, Vadium, and it raises an important issue: Foursquare’s API doesn’t really make that possible yet. You can’t make a call for check-in counts across an entire city, or even neighborhood.
Here was my take on 4sq uses in journalism.
I am a big fan of your site. You’ve always got great info. Anyway, I know that you are interested in Foursquare, so I thought you might like to check out the Foursquare app I’ve just built for Facebook and WordPress.
“My Foursquare makes it easy to show off your badges, mayorships and checkins on Facebook, your blog or your website”.
If you want more info I can send you a detailed blurb and screenshots etc. Thanks, and keep the good info coming!
Paul, I believe that Foursquare is a great tool for georeference. As I went to London last november I realised how useful it is be to be inform about places to go nearby. As a tourist I would be glad to acess besides the location, a story about a place I am visiting as I check in. I believe 4Square is a promising tool for journalism and users.