I remember first speaking to a colleague about foursquare. I was particularly excited about it but was having a hard time explaining it.
“What’s in it for me?” he said.
“Well … as well as finding out what’s good near you, you get badges and mayorships and …”
“Badges and mayorships? What do they give you?”
“…. well … kudos?”
“Hmm. It’ll never work”
I think the problem with foursquare is that the nay-sayers seem to look at it from completely the wrong perspective. They think that you simply walk into a bar, check-in on your phone and that’s the end of the experience. In fact, at that point you could already be quite far down the foursquare path. Perhaps you’re new in town and you’re faced with three possible bars to head to.
You can find where those bars are in your foursquare app but, most importantly, you can also find out not only what people have said about those bars but also what your existing contacts (usually Twitter or Facebook friends) have said about those bars. A personal endorsement is worth it’s weight in gold.
Plus, deep down, you know that if you see that your friend has become the mayor of somewhere it’s your absolute duty to try and take that mayorship away from them.
So foursquare has been taking off, despite Facebook and Google’s usual efforts to consume the smaller players and do everything for themselves. In fact, foursquare recently experienced not only their 10 millionth registration but also their 1 billionth check-in. Perhaps not incredibly membership numbers by Facebook’s standards but not bad at all for a service that many of your friends will probably have either never heard of or simply not “get”.
Foursquare put together the below video to act as a nice visual representation of check-ins taking place around the world. There’s no sound track but I like to watch it while humming Perpetuum Mobile. Actually, before you hit play, open this video in another window and minimise it so you just get the music, now play the foursquare video. Choice.
Nice huh? This is what the video’s publisher, Matthew Healey (I’m assuming he’s something to do with foursquare), had to say on Vimeo about how they made the video:
The visualization was mostly created with Processing (processing.org). The data was provided by our data team from the hadoop/hive infrastructure they’ve built for analytical purposes (more on that here: engineering.foursquare.com/2011/03/24/big-data-foursquare-slides-from-our-recent-talk/). I created the map tiles using a great open source app called TileMill (mapbox.com/tilemill/), and loaded them into my Processing sketch with the Modest Maps library (code.google.com/p/modestmaps/). A few things at the end were added with After Effects (the zoom-in bubbles and the glow on the category bars)
I’ll have more foursquare news soon. Next time a lot more related to New Zealand.