Friday Fun: foursquare

Foursquareis the latest geo-location app to hit the mobile market.  Currently it is available for the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and the Palm.  People who have other types of mobile phones that can get on the Internet can us the mobile website version.  People load it on to their phone and “check-in” to places that they visit. A CNN article has says, “Next Year’s Twitter? It’s Foursquare.”

Some people have the app on their phone sync on their Facebook account so you might have seen something similar to Caroline McCarthy of cnet’s foursquare check-in within the Newsfeed of Facebook.

Example of foursquare within Facebook

Example of foursquare within Facebook

 Why would somebody want to tell people where they are and where they have been?  I am not quite sure of all the reasons but one reason is the social sharing mania that you see with things like Facebook, Twitter, etc. and the other reason might be the perks.  Yes, perks.  People who check in to all sorts of places like Starbucks, restaurants, parks, offices, libraries, bars, stores, etc.  Additionally people are adding information (Tips) about these places as they visit. 

For example foursquare people who visited the Cleveland Clinic left these tips:

@Table 45 (*Krafty note: Table 45 is nice restaurant at the Cleveland Clinic)
Be Sure to check out happy hour between 4-6 pm. Free appetizers.

@The Cleveland Clinic
The Clinic may be a hospital, but it also has a new shopping area: bookstore, clothes, au bon pain, and a sushi bare are all new.  If you need to find something ask one of the “red coats.”

The tips are most often used at restaurants (like: Harvest Salad is great but get dressing on the side because they drench it on.) and stores with coupons or specials (like: Sign up for their newsletter and get $5 off). 

Foursquare has already struck several deals with large companies such as Pepsi and Zagat.  Small local businesses are getting into the foursquare fever, marketing deals to mayors (the person who has checked-in the most out of anyone at a specific location) and regular foursquare users.  TechCrunch noted, “Not only does the mayor of the venue Marsh (local bar performance space) get free drinks, but everyone who checks into the venue on Foursquare and shows proof (on your iPhone or other mobile device) gets $2 off a ticket to any performance that night.”

Some librarians are even talking about how they can get into the foursquare fury. If you look at the Technology Trends Webinar hashtag #TTWebinar and scroll down a bit, you will see where people are discussing the use of foursquare in libraries. 

From @libkitty
“Looking at foursquare. It seems like libraries could create promos, special offers, without using a smart phone, or even a cell.” 

Foursquare is fun. I have it loaded on my iPhone and I can definitely see where people would want to use it to get tips and discounts, because I love that feature.  I am not quite sure of its practical use in libraries, although a lot of people on #TTWebinar had some interesting ideas.  But one of my biggest problems with fourquare is privacy.  Yes you heard it, me with a blog, a Facebook account, a Twitter account, and active member in MLA is worried about privacy.  You can Google my name and everything about me is out there for all to see.  But I kind of find foursquare a little too Big Brotherish.  Granted it is self induced Big Brother.  I’m just not sure if I really want people to know where I have been and where I am at.  Caroline McCarthy described how your foursquare check-ins aren’t private on Facebook despite your security settings. 

Another problem I have with foursquare is that I keep forgetting to check-in.  I am no longer the mayor of the Cleveland Clinic Alumni Library (which is probably good because you would probably want your users to be mayors) and when I go to restaurants I am either 1. watching over children to ensure appropriate behavior or 2. too excited to have a dinner alone with my husband to remember to pull out my phone and check-in. 

So while I am not sure of its use in libraries it is definitely a Friday Fun type of application that you might want to look at and play around with.  I wouldn’t recommend syncing it with Twitter friends or Facebook friends unless you are ready for your check-ins to be visible to everyone on those applications.

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