Geolocation

Beware blog readers: this page is written in pre-blog era chronological order.  It begins March 20th, 2010 and chronicles my life with foursquare and other types of geolocation services up until the present day… way down at the bottom.  So sit, back, lean in and enjoy the GPS journey.  

CHAPTER I:

Those of you who read my blog (much appreciated, by the way) may think that I am obsessed with foursquare. And, perhaps that is true. I am very much looking forward to an upcoming talk by Dennis, but that is beside the point. I am simply fascinated by the concept of this mobile application, how it affects my life, other people’s lives, our society, communication, and so on – and how that is evolving with the expanding usage of this tool, Gowalla and other hyper-local activities.

As of this week (this entry was initiated March 20th, 2010), foursquare has half a million users. That is up from 400,000 last week due to intense guerrilla marketing at the South by Southwest event (SXSW) last weekend. That, in itself, is noteworthy. From what I’ve heard, foursquare got the jump on Gowalla last March when it spread throughout the South by Southwest community – demonstrating the power of crowds and of live viral communication. Bring a group together with a passion for social media, and you can increase your audience by 25% in a weekend. Based on a CNET podcast, it also seems that Gowalla increased its user base that weekend with many foursquare users adding that application to their smartphone portfolio.

As someone who often works from home and who has many different “social graphs,” i.e., social and professional networks, foursquare has been of great interest to me as it has allowed me to stay in touch with the world beyond West 74th Street, meet new people, feel connected to a range of people and deepen my personal and professional relationships. I am also intrigued by the way in which the gaming aspect of the function affects me.

By ranking people based on points and awarding points based on the number and characteristics of check-ins, foursquare brings out my competitive side and consequently influences my behavior. I feel motivated to get out, to go to multiple locations, to get to the gym because Kandace went there before work, and I want to unlock the Gym Rat badge, to check-in on my way to the subway so that I have time to capture that location. It also makes me more aware of my behavior. Until foursquare told me, I had no idea that I had been to a certain location 10 times in 30 days. I thought I went there once or twice a week. I am the mayor of Pinky Nail Salon, Fashion 74 Nails, MaxWax, Andy’s Deli, Duane Reade and other local spots; this makes me aware of the fact that I frequent these place and that few other foursquarers do. And when I am dethroned (aka ousted), as with Duane Reade, I sense the expansion of the game’s popularity. The first thing I do when I arrive somewhere is check in. The next thing I do is check my ranking.

Each day, foursquare has a unique impact on my day as I watch the way in which it influences my city, myself, and at the risk of being melodramatic, my world. I include my world because I was surprised to see how prevalent it was in Puerto Rico.

Hence, I have decided to keep a little diary of my new life with foursquare:

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

I’ve just returned home from a long day in Central Park, at a seminar and hanging out with a friend.

Most days that I check in at home, there is nothing trending in my neighborhood, which makes me feel like a bit of a pioneer. Today, there were two places: First, AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13, the huge multiplex theater on 67th-ish and Broadway. That makes sense. And second, a place called, I believe, Bar 460. I say, “I believe” because when I went to double check it just now, it was no longer trending, and I couldn’t find it at all. Ah well, I came very close to learning of a new venue in my neighborhood.

Oh, and in going back to look for Bar 460, I saw that the AMC theater had only 5 people. So, that’s trending for the Upper West Side. It could be one group of friends. Ah, and voila, at 10:45pm the movie theater is no longer trending. I guess the early show is finished.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Five weeks ago, I was fresh off the Social Media Week boat (metaphorical) and freshly on the foursquare bandwagon. I was like a person who had just finished the Landmark Education Forum. My enthusiasm was so great that it was contagious. It was at that time that I had a meeting with a senior executive at a major advertising agency. In demonstrating the application – having already checked in at the location – I noted that there was one person at the agency who was showing up as present. A senior Creative executive. The Strategy executive called him to acknowledge his tastemaker status, and I friended him.

Today, I visited the agency again, and there were six people who had checked in. A six-fold increase in five weeks. I should feel good that the religion is spreading, but I am also feeling a little less uniquely “cool.”

This evening, as I was walking from one nail salon (closed for the night) to another, I used the opportunity to check in. Glancing down at my options, I noticed a new location that was “Trending Now.” The name seemed to be “Sunburned” something and glancing at it as I walked, I thought it was a tanning salon! My observation, therefore: it looks like folks are getting ready for the warmer weather – though I was a little perplexed given the current temperature of 50-something and a less than inspiring weather forecast.

Later that evening, when I arrived home, and my nails were dry enough to remove my iPhone from my pocket, I took another look at the name of the locale – which was still trending on the Wednesday night. It was “Sunburnt Calf.” As it turns out, Sunburnt Calf is a new bar and brunch locale – an offshoot of Sunburnt Cow in the East Village and BondiRoad on Rivington Street – wherever that is – and has been open a little more than two months. Perhaps I am back in the know!

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

I’ve noticed that a my foursquare friends seem to spend a lot of time at airports. Is it a reflection of my group of friends, of people in general (with me as the exception), or the fact that since people have a lot of “free” time at airports they are more likely to check in. I think it is a combination with an emphasis on the latter. I’ve also noted that a disproportionate number of my friends seem to out of JFK – very few from Laguardia – and often fly JetBlue. Good taste. As I see them checking in at Terminal 5, I try to recall whether I was the one who set up that specific location.

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

The Museum of Natural History has been trending this week. It must be spring break. On a related note, the Shake Shack across the street from the museum has also been trending.

A new person has started checking into Pure Yoga. A man! Quite a feat since I get absolutely no AT&T coverage within the building.

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

25 people at the SOHO Apple Store early on a Saturday morning. Could it be that early adopters of foursquare are early adopters of the iPad. I think so. Moreover, it leads me to ask: What is the ratio of Apple to PC users…

…in general
…on Twitter
…on foursquare
…with iPads – ok, that one is loaded

Tuesday, April 7th, 2010

I’m told that foursquare now has 750,000 users and 16 employees. (I wouldn’t mind becoming #17…)

Attended a social media panel at razorfish’s NY offices (SMAC) followed by drinks and plentiful bar food at Heartland Brewery. foursquare users abounded – first time for me in a while.

Whoops – almost forgot the most important bit of news! foursquare is rolling out analytics services. The implications for marketers are tremendous!

Oh, and another, Tom C. tells me that the social marketing executive for JetBlue always keeps tabs on who is the Mayor of Terminal 5 at JFK. Smart. As I said above, I think there’s a lot of opportunity at airports – captive audience with time to kill away from most of their social graph.

Continued at Geo-Tagging: What Art Thou to Me? – Part II

Chapter II:

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

One of the more interesting things that Bonin Bough, Global Director of Digital and Social Media Strategy for Pepsi, said on a SMAC (Social Media Advertising Consortium) panel the other night was this: While historically, a huge (300,000 people, I believe and hundreds of thousands of products, I believe…) company like Pepsi would find a movement/application like foursquare to be too small to be relevant or usable, their current outlook is that they have the ability to take something like this, if it is truly interesting, and make it big. (He didn’t use the word scaleable, but I felt a need to say it… like a trained reflex.) Very interesting.

I am now starting to be ousted as mayor from locations I personally created such as Penang UWS and Andy’s Deli on Amsterdam. Isn’t that always the case. I’m out there using it when everyone thinks I’m crazy, and then someone else gets the glory. :-)

I’ve noted that when I am at a networking event and another digital strategist (typically male) is using foursquare, he will “aggressively” take ownership of instructing those not familiar with it and assume that I know less than he, even if I have checked in as well. I’ve also noted a lot of people who seem to have some personal knowledge/relationship with Dennis or his colleagues but also have some difficulty gaining access. Oh, how I hope my plans to have dinner with him following an upcoming talk that I am co-sponsoring do not fall through. It seems to be a highly sought after privilege.

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

After discovering Burnt Calf via foursquare trending some months ago, I finally checked it out in person on Saturday. It’s very close to my apartment and has bottomless brunch cocktails. However, it turns out that brunch doesn’t start until noon. So we went elsewhere and sat outside on the lovely day that seems to be preceding a rainy one – still holding out hope for a 5pm tennis game.

There is a young fellow named B.H. who is the mayor of two residential buildings on CPW in the West 90s. His tip is “Live Here.” Do we think he’s a broker?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the mayor of the Central Park Tennis Center does not play tennis at all. He seems to be a runner that checks in at each venue he passes. That explains why the overseer at the courts didn’t recognize him.

I have noticed that a former colleague of mine was spending a lot of time at the gym (as communicated via foursquare and, before that, facebook). She would check in at 4 in the morning and often check in twice a day. I found out today that she’s a body builder! So, it wasn’t that she was going to the gym before an early day at the office, she was spending 4 hours a day working out!

A few months ago, when I first heard Gary Vee speak, he asked his audience how many of them had sworn at one point that they would never have a cell phone? And how many swore they would never have a facebook account? When I heard him speak last week at the re-Set conference, he added foursquare and Gowalla to his list of things once forsworn.

Hey! Did foursquare just add back the ability to Shout Out once you’re already checked in? It seems that they have.

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Can foursquare hurt your career? As a consultant, and depending upon the specific project, I often work from home and have the flexibility to work whatever hours I like – as clients who have received 3am emails will attest. However, if a client – or potential client – sees that I hit the yoga studio at 4pm or grab a game of tennis at 3, will she think I have too much time on my hands? Or will she think that I have a good work-life balance or level of discipline? This came up in a conversation today with an executive who passed on a job candidate because the applicant didn’t have a lot of LinkedIn connections. Personally, I think that is a very valid and relevant assessment. When I interview someone for a job, one of the first things I do is check out the LinkedIn profile – particularly if I want to get a sense of the digital savviness of the candidate. Does use of foursquare signal that you are a vanguard or simply give out too much information?

I am convinced that foursquare needs me to reach their full strategic potential. I’m going to spend the next few days figuring out why.

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Oooh, I’m #15 on my list of friends this week! Usually I’m at least in the top five. Often in the top two by the end of the weekend. This can’t be good.

One of my foursquare contacts (Seth H) has gone rogue on foursquare as follows: “I’ve subverted Foursquare to add Mitzvot in this case Sepharat H’Omer – the Counting of the Omer the days between Passover and Pentecost (Shavout.) It’s 49 days so every day I try to put something clever in. I also added a check in for Shabbat. I’m still trying to figure out why I’m not the Mayor of Sephirat H’Omer as I’ve checked in twenty something times.”

Another of my contacts likes to include little sales pitches in her posts. I’m not a fan of this approach.

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Creepy? Maybe. Helpful? Yes. I have a business contact who lives in Boston that I want to meet with when he is next in New York. This morning he checked into Penn Station, Philly on his way to NYC. I sent him a text. This afternoon, he checked into Penn Station, NYC. I sent him a second text. This evening, we are meeting for drinks!

I would estimate that foursquare has a million members at this point.

Monday, May 17th, 2010

I’ve noticed that the AMC Theater and Shake Shack are often trending in my neighborhood. Could this be related to the fact that both places involve downtime in which you are waiting for something to happen – waiting for the movie to start & waiting in line… similar to why I think airports often encourage check-in.

Came home today to see lots of activity at the Beacon Theater. When I checked in at the fruit cart just south of the stage door, I noticed 47 people checked in. With a little Google sleuthing, I figured out that Fox TV is having their upfront presentation there. I then went onto Twitter to see whether attendees were tweeting about the event. Tried out #fox and #foxupfront. Indeed, they were – though very minimally relative to the number of folks on foursquare.

I then decided to take a look at who is attending the upfront. I clicked on a person and then took at look at her mayorships. It’s quite amazing what you can piece together from this little bit of info. You can basically infer where the person lives, where she works, what her family status is and what her interests are. One attendee is mayor of Zenith HQ. Hmmm… a media buyer, perhaps. Another attendee is mayor of Berry Hill Elementary School, the CVS on “Cold Spring Road,” LIRR Syosset and PM Pediatrics on Jericho Turnpike. Dr. House would have a field day with this stuff!

Wednesday, May 19th

I noticed that ABC had more check-ins for its upfront presentation at Avery Fisher than Fox did at the Beacon. Around 57 vs. 47. I’m assuming that it was a larger crowd – otherwise, it could mean that the foursquare population is growing over the course of and due in part to upfront week.

5 people checked into the JCC at 1am on a Wednesday morning. Strange…

Created a check-in for “Stuck In Traffic.” It had to be done.

CHAPTER III:

You have now entered Part III my ongoing journal of my life with foursquare – tracking the personal, sociological and historic milestones associated with the rapidly growing service/game/application.  Check my archives for Chapters I and II.

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Foursquare is losing its allure as the time it takes to check in increases. If I can’t check in before the subway train arrives, then spending my time on the platform waiting for foursquare to load is not a good use of my time. I understand that check-ins have gone from one per second to 100 per second, so I’ll be patient and wait for the foursquare team to catch up, but the situation definitely reduces the fun factor and the usability quotient.

One of these days, I’ll start a new entry about the commercial applications of foursquare and location tagging. In the meantime, here is an interesting example from May 3rd of what Pepsi is doing. Recall from a prior posting that the beverage manufacturer’s Bonin Bough said on a SMAC panel that if a startup like foursquare has an attractive concept, Pepsi will not dismiss the venture as too small but rather might find a way to bring it to scale. In this case, it looks like Pepsi has gone rogue:

Pepsi to Roll Two Geo-based Loyalty Efforts for Mobile

By Brian Quinton

Beverage maker Pepsi has announced that it will roll out two location-based mobile campaigns to offer discounts and loyalty points to consumers who use them to patronize nearby restaurant partners.

In the first, slated to launch in mid-May, the beverage maker will roll out Pepsi Loot, an iPhone app that will use the geo-location abilities of users’ mobile phones to identify and direct them to nearby restaurants that serve Pepsi beverages, both chains such as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, IHOP, Popeye’s, Dairy Queen and Arby’s and also participating independents with Pepsi on the menu.

Users who find these locations, or “Pop spots”, with the app and go there will then be encouraged by both mobile alerts and in-store signs to “check in”. Users that check in at three pop spots will earn “Loot” loyalty points that can then be redeemed for music downloads from Universal Music Group, behind-the-scenes video content for mobile phones from Loot featured artists like Jamie Cullum and Katherine McPhee, or discount and free-food offers from Pop Spot member restaurants.

Thursday, June 3rd

56 people were checked into Bryant Park yesterday afternoon. That’s crazy! I wonder how many people are at this one square block park at any one time. A sign of warm, sunny, weather and a reflection of how fast Foursquare is spreading on this little island called Manhattan.

Tuesday, June 8th

Starcom MediaVest starting to show up on a regular basis as top trending venue during the day. 15 people today at 11am.

I have been wondering whether the Cirque du Soleil that is currently resident at the Beacon is something I would want to see. Yesterday, when I checked into a parking meter near my home, I got a pop up from Anna O. recommending it – though she did comment on the clowns, and I am more interested in the performance/acrobatics/skill elements of CdS. I will text for more info. That also reminded me that I should check the “Tips” from the Beacon for more info. The only potential downside is that people tend not to leave negative tips, so it will be a bit biased.

Slowness of checking-in continues to be a downer. I guess it’s understandable given that foursquare is nearing 1.6 million users

See interview with founder Dennis Crowley from the Mashable social media Summit

Monday, June 14th

DVR’d Dennis Crowley’s interview with Maria Bartiromo. Need to watch and/or record it before Time Warner Cable comes by to fix my cable service.

72 people were checked into the Twitter Conference (TWTRCON NY10) this morning. 50 people were checked in at the Tony’s last night. Sometimes 4SQ alerts me to a place for me to go, or motivates me to get somewhere – such as the Internet Week Expo – but sometimes it’s too late to make plans for it, or I just don’t have the access, which sometimes makes me sad – I admit. Green eyed FourSquenvy.

I realized that it’s probably not a good idea to check in somewhere that it’s illegal to be such as Central Park at 1am. In theory, the Park police could monitor it. I know that they leave tips about venues within the Park.

I sincerely believe that foursquare could be the next facebook. According to what I’ve seen thus far of Dennis’ interview, they do not yet have a working biz model, but are building up the audience, participation and data to have a truly powerful monetization machine (in my own words).

Tuesday, June 15th

It must be summer in Central Park because I’ve seen Delacorte Theater (Shakespeare in the Park) and Summer Stage trending over the last week.

Wednesday, June 16th

Today is the day that someone other than myself checked into my apartment! It was the second place she had ever checked-in, the first being the cafe where we had tea. This hereby justifies – in my mind – my creating a venue for my apartment building.

Thursday, June 17th

This evening a friend emailed about a party at Bar 420.  Aha.  That must be the bar I saw trending – for an instant – back in March!

I would like to have a party that’s big enough to trend.  At this point, I could accomplish it with 5-10 people, but by the time my birthday comes around, and my smartphone-phobic friends sign-on, well…

Wednesday, June 23rd

It seems there was an earthquake in Canada-Michigan this afternoon that was felt as far as New York.  Surfing around Twitter, I was able to ascertain the time of the quake.  1:41pm.  Where was I then?  Well, my foursquare history answered the question for me!  I was coming out of the subway on West 72nd Street.  That explains why I didn’t feel it.  The NY subway always feels like an earthquake.

 

CHAPTER IV:

Each day, foursquare has a unique impact on my life as I watch the way in which it influences my city, myself, and , increasingly, my world. I decided therefore, a few months after joining the network – May 20th, 2010 – , to keep a little diary of my new life with foursquare

You have now entered Part IV this ongoing journal – tracking the personal, sociological and historic milestones associated with the rapidly growing service/game/application. Check my archives for Chapters III and III.

Monday, July 5th

On Saturday, I checked into NYC Taxi 6H89 and found that it was already in the foursquare database – entered manually by a regular (not super) user. This surprised me as I’m used to frantically entering the number of the taxi and classifying the location as transportation and then taxi… before reaching my destination and figuring out my payment method and tip. Are we reaching some kind of critical foursquare taxi mass? Or was this simply a very neat coincidence – particularly since I don’t take many taxis and there are more than 13,000 yellow taxis in New York City. In either case, an interesting milestone.

This week, foursquare obtained $20 million in funding, and Dennis Crowley “checked in” at the World Cup in South Africa. Nice.

To write the taxi paragraph above, I had to go to my online profile to get the taxi number. I noticed that there is a history of all my check-ins that dates back to April 26th, 2010. Going back to when I first joined in January or February, I have a total of 1099 check-ins! I think I may be an oversharer (yes, I have the badge), but, hey, that’s how I roll.

That said, I find this history to be a valuable tool to keep track of time spent on different client engagements, e.g., time on-site and to get a sense of average transportation time for specific trips, e.g., Upper West Side to Tribeca and West 74th to Central Park Tennis Courts. Remember when all those management consultants tried to get people to keep journals to measure productivity. Now we do it for fun.

July 15th, 2010

Foursquare reached the 2 million user mark this week.

I noted that a lot of people had checked into the Great Lawn on Tuesday night. Was there a free concert, I wondered.

This week, the NYC foursquare community created Heatpacolypse (all of last week!) and Rainpacolypse (Tuesday the 13th). I experienced and checked into both. A fun way to share the extremities of the local weather.

July 26th, 2010

I’ve just checked into the Apple store on the upper west side. As the 13th person here, I seem to have pushed it over the fence to a trending location. It seems to trend a lot lately, though I remember not too too long ago that I was the only or one of just two or three people who had checked in here.

Another location that seems to trend a lot lately is the AMC Movie Theater. There is a strong correlation between the numerical reading on the weather channel site and the number of people checked in at the highly air conditioned movie theater… Quite a popular venue over the course of the last few scorching weeks here in NYC.

After weeks of checking in at the Central Park Tennis Center, it dawned on me that that is a perfect venue for foursquare. Lately, I find myself hanging out on warm weekend days looking for open courts and potential tennis partners. Foursquare could not be more appropriate. The only problem is that I am almost always the only one checked in there. This weekend, I did spy a second player. I immediately invited him to be my foursquare friend. Stay tuned to see whether we ever cross rackets on the court.

July 30th

Duane Reade, the NYC chain of drug stores, has asked to follow me on foursquare (and be my friend on Facebook). Personally, I found this request a little creepy… but I am tempted to accept the invite to get a sense of what they plan to do as my foursquare friend. I suspect they want to know when I’m in their store.

August 4th

Forrester released a report last week stating that 4% of U.S. online adults have used a Location Based Social Network (LBSN), with “only” 1% using them more than once a week. However… of the several million folks who are using LBSNs: 70% have four-year college or graduate degrees, the average age is 32, the average annual household income just over $100,000, and 78% are male. So… does that mean I’m behaving like a 32 year old well-educated early-adopter… guy? That may explain my social life.

September 11th

I just found out via foursquare that there’s a TJ Maxx on West 96th Street.  It showed up as near the Whole Foods up there, which is where I had dinner.  That was my first time, by the way, after seeing the organic food store trending many Sunday nights.  And, by the way, the Whole Foods offers a free coffee tumbler to those who go to customer service and show that they’ve checked in for the first time.  I did not act upon this offer, but I did take a photo of the sign, which was tucked away near the restrooms…

Well re: TJ, that’s one express stop or a 25 minute walk – not to mention being awfully close to the Central Park tennis courts. This opens up all kinds of possibilities, as Loehmann’s does not carry any linen, towels, etc. Very exciting. My mother will be proud.

September 20th

It looks like the Trader Joe’s on the Upper West Side is now open.  I noticed 12 people checked in while I was getting a slice of mushroom pizza at Freddie & Pepper’s.

October 26th

On October 17th, my iPhone was wiped and reset in an attempt to address performance issues.  That means that I need to reconnect to all of my social apps including foursquare.  I went a few hours without access and then reconnected.  Or so I thought until I realized I had logged into my first account in which I misspelled my name (typo as I do actually know the spelling of my name…).  When I realized this, I attempted to log into my more recent account.  However,  I have not yet had luck doing so.  When my email and password did not, I tried to connect via Facebook Mobile, but that did not work either.  I’m sure it can be done but have not yet sat down to take the time to make it happen.  So, the point of this embarrassing discussion of my technical travails… I feel strangely free.  I still think foursquare has lots of value and expect to reconnect.  But, in the meantime, I’m enjoying my time off.  What does that say about the adoption cycle of those who are less “passionate” than I…

In the meantime – once I reconnect to it on my iphone as well, that is  – I’ve developing a strong affinity for GetGlue, a non location based version of foursquare – for people who stay home.  Users check into entertainment activities such as a tv show, a movie or a book.  It’s a really neat way to make personal experiences social while maintaining a level of intimacy.

October 28th

I am back in the square.  Turns out I couldn’t live without it.  I need foursquare to look back on my day and remember where I went and what I did.

November 24th

I know that the upper west side is pretty crazy the night before Thanksgiving.  Cars backed up outside my window with mellifluous honking of horns.  Children being taken aside and reprimanded on every street corner.  Lines of people waiting for cupcakes at the Crumb’s bake shop next to the Equinox.  And so on.  I know that the balloons that are blown up next to the Museum of Natural History are quite a draw.  Personally, I’ve never had the patience or fortitude to wait in line to see them… nonetheless, I guess I knew there must be decent numbers of people who were, but when I turned on foursquare tonight, I saw that 342 people were checked in at the Macy’s Parade Balloon Inflation venue.  That’s crazy!

December 12th, 2010

@sterlingoptical retweeted the fact that I became mayor of their store on the upper west side

Now that I am recording the license # of each taxi I take, I feel a new kind of peace of mind, knowing that if I leave a pair of gloves in the cab, I would know which cab it was – even without a receipt.  I think this new sense of calm has contributed to the fact that I have not inadvertently left anything in a taxi in the last year.

Last weekend, I was working on a small project – around 5 hours.  On Sunday afternoon, I took a break to play tennis – it had been scheduled in advance.  I had been exchanging emails and work product with my client over the weekend and told him that the next iteration would come in the late afternoon or early evening.  As I prepared to leave the courts, I realized that my client, who follows me on foursquare, would have access to how I was spending my day – would he mind that I took three hours off to play tennis?  Oh well.

On that note, I discovered a great new place to play tennis.  When I checked in for the first time, I tweeted and facebooked and everything.  Then I wondered whether I should keep this new find closer to the vest…

I should say that foursquare is soooooo slow, it can be extraordinarily frustrating.  What is the balance between foursquare and AT&T as the cause of this frustration?  Dunno.

I continue to think that GetGlue has a lot of potential, particularly as those in the television space (content providers, etc.) become more aware of it.  Great opportunity for advertisers to encourage people to check into and/or comment on their ads.  Great opportunity for book publishers as well.  Potential tie in/partnership with shelfari.  Keep your eyes on this one.

Back to foursquare: I have become increasingly reliant on foursquare for tracking my hours on freelance projects.  Great tool!

Each day, foursquare has a unique impact on my life as I watch the way in which it influences my city, myself, and increasingly, my world. I decided therefore, a few months after joining the network – May 20th, 2010 – , to keep a little diary of my new life with foursquare

CHAPTER V:

You have now entered Part V this ongoing journal – tracking the personal, sociological and historic milestones associated with the rapidly growing service/game/application. Check my archives for Parts III,  III and IV.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

It’s a 40-something sunny day in Manhattan.  I know that because of my desktop widget, but I also know that because Central Park is trending on foursquare, with 38 people currently checked in there.  This made it a lot easier and quicker for me to check in as I headed out for my fourth run this year.  The other times it was snowing and/or in the 20s.  I welcome the opportunity to check into something trending as it takes longer and longer and longer for Foursquare to catch up to where I actually am when I try to log in.  I have been working at Time Warner Cable since January 3rd, but Foursquare thinks I have been there half that time because I am able to successfully check in about half the time.  I suspect this is due in GREAT part to the AT&T network/performance of the iPhone on the AT&T network, and I know that this is one of the most frustrating elements of Dennis Crowley’s business plan, but I can’t help being a bit annoyed with Foursquare as well as AT&T as I stand on the subway platform waiting for my check in to pleeeease go through.

All that said, the fact that I was in fact able to check in efficiently means that I have a relatively accurate reading on how long it took me to run to and from the Park and make it around the (mostly uphill, it seems…) lower loop.  39 minutes is the time.  Please stop laughing.  My current goal is to outpace the horses, the bicycle cabs and the people who walk.  There will be a large celebration on the day I actually outrun another runner.  Thank you to my good friend Fred for running with me.  I shudder to think how slowly I would run without him!

A few months ago, I noticed that “Fall for Dance” at City Center showed up as a venue on Foursquare.  Great marketing.  And a few nights ago I saw another theater venue – Radio City?  or Carnegie Hall? trending.  Now that’s foursquare going mainstream.

This week is social media week.  How many new participants do you think there will be by this time next week?


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Last week, I used my first foursquare Nearby Specials.  And, I must say (a) it was quite easy (b) it influenced me to spend $40 more than I had planned.  I was at the Modell’s near my apartment to pick up one or two cans of tennis balls.  As I waited in line – thinking about a past “tip” I had left suggested that one might not want to come to this store if in a hurry… I decided to read the nearby specials.  I saw that if I spent $50 at this store, I would get $10 back.  Gee, I thought, I could use another sports bra, and I’m sure to use up any tennis balls I buy.  So, I did.  I added the sports bra and several cans of balls to my purchase.  I showed the special as it appeared on my iPhone to the girl at the register, and simple, I got $10 back.  Gee, I thought, I just got a bunch of free tennis balls.

This is in contrast to an experience I had the week before at Bed, Bath and Beyond. BBB has trained me to think that there is always a coupon available.  Hence, I am reluctant when in the store to buy anything if I don’t have a coupon with me.  Surely, I thought, however, there must be a mobile coupon available and so I dutifully googled BBB and promotion code.  My phone asked me for my phone number, and, as I navigated the escalator, I attempted to enter it.  Two rejected attempts – rejected rather rudely, by the way, in red font.  As I came to the top of the escalator and saw the huge line at checkout, I decided to buy my Vornado fan another time, which I have yet to do.


Wednesday, September 
21, 2011

My doorman just ousted me as mayor of my apartment building.  I never thought I would see the day.  Game On!

American Express is doing some very interesting things with “synced” foursquare and card accounts.  When you check in or check out a venue, you, as a linked AMEX member, are served with an additional list of special offers.  I first found out about this at the US Open.  AMEX had a huge presence there.

Saw my doorman on the way in just now, and he asked me about foursquare and the whole mayorship race… I feel kind of bad now.  He’s sweet and new to foursquare.  I shouldn’t make him think it’s a competition… but, am I willing to give up being mayor of the venue I created – still hoping for a swarm someday.  I told  him we could trade off.


Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Made my third trip to 16 Handles today, now that I’ve realized they have hot fudge sauce – one of my top 10 food delicacies.  Quite scary to know that HOT fudge sauce is less than two blocks from my apartment at any time.  I’ve settled into a small amount of  frozen yogurt with lots of fruit and a significant dollop of fudge sauce + some coconut shavings and a few chocolate covered pretzels.  (This could get dangerous.)  In any case, 16 handles uses a loyalty card app – check in 4 times and get $2 off the fifth purchase.  I’ve had 1 out of three successful check ins so far.  I’ll let you know the name of the app tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I continue to check into my apartment building diligently.  3 days away from reclaiming my mayorship!  (Though it’s probably more important to have a good relationship with my doorman…)

Friday, September 30, 2011

The AMEX sync program came up during one of the presentations at the OMMA Global conference this week.  I believe it was the one by Fred Wilson, co-founder of Union Square Ventures.  I asked about the popularity of the program given how complex it was to sign up.  He admitted/agreed that the sign up process could be more integrated – not even taking into account that I learn

ed about it offline and had to go online to even start the application.  I believe he said they have 300,000 participants, a number that would be higher if it were more turnkey but that it was clearly a successful program that is being renewed and extended.  (I’ll get the details for you when I have a moment to review recording.)

Here, by the way, is the message I received as part of the signup process (scary stuff): ‎”Connected accounts can build cool things on top of what you’ve done on foursquare. Approving this connection allows them access to do things like update your status, view your check-in history and look at things like your friends list, Tips, and To-Dos.”

On another note, I am now (finally!) mayor of the Central Park Tennis Center and have also reclaimed mayorship (an unelected government position?) of my apartment building.  The game continues, Diego the doorman…

Wednesday, Ocober 5th, 2011

A lot of wait time/delays trying to check into the New York Times Center during Advertising Week.  Quite frustrating.  Typically need to enter the venue manually.  I wish the Times Center would consider getting an AT&T booster.  I read on Twitter that someone had even worse luck with Verizon, downstairs.  Amazing, in a disturbing way.

OMMA and Advertising Week are both obsessed with Facebook, and perhaps rightly so.  What impact will this have on Foursquare.  More so, what will the open graph due to get glue, which, by the way, has gotten some significant traction through corporate promotions.  If I were still in my role at a major cable operator and still working on supporting their five ad-supported VOD channels, I would reach out to Get Glue – assuming I could get approval to use social media, which is currently frowned upon.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My doorman tells me with a big smile that he is going to be mayor next week (of our building), that he is 3 days away.  I can’t imagine that will be the case if I continue to check in multiple times or even once a day.  I think I am going to let him have it – the mayorship, that is.  Though I don’t plan to show that kind of generosity to whoever is looking to be mayor of Central Park Tennis Center.


So, everything new is new again.  New iCloud, new Facebook, new Foursquare.  I can’t begin to tell you how many new passwords!  One for iTunes, one for mobile me, one for my apple ID, one for wordpress on my laptop – that doesn’t work on my computer, one to unlock my iPhone, one to access my voicemail, one for each email account, one for facebook, one for foursquare – different IDs/emails, and different passwords.  I can’t keep up.  But I digress.  What I mean by what’s new is new again is that they all have new interfaces and capabilities again.  So… what happened to my targeted, local specials on foursquare.  I don’t see them.  Maybe I’ll find them eventually.  Am I really less technologically intuitive than the general social media and/or geolocation population?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Foursquare tells me that I have checked into the Central Park Tennis Center 72 times.  So how come that is not reflected in the quality of my forehand?

Monday, October 24, 2011

I don’t take a lot of taxis, but I thought I would indulge tonight after an evening of wine and pizza, chips, pretzels,  Ritz crackers and good conversation at the Harvard Club.  With time to spare, I decided to check in.  To save time, I started by entering the four digit cab ID number.  A year ago, it would have blown my mind to find that someone else had checked in in this taxi – see post front that era with the big photo of taxis.  Tonight, there were two entries.  The question arises, therefore, how many of our many NYC taxis have been catalogued in foursquare???  (p.s. it was a very nice taxi – I think it may be a hybrid.)

Sunday, October 29, 2011

Last night I earned the Greasy Spoon badge for checking into Cafe Luxembourg. a charming and pricey French restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  Whoops.  Here is what my award said: “Sticky vinyl booths, bottomless mugs of joe, apple pie fresh out of the display case… Does that waitress have syrup on her hairnet? Sounds like diner heaven to us. Now that you’ve hit 5, treat yourself to onion rings. Or a milkshake. We suggest both.”  I also received the Halloween swarm badge for checking into Snowcopalypse 2011 – on the Saturday before Halloween.  Nice idea.

I know it’s not geolocation, but it’s related: GetGlue, the application in which  you check into cultural activities such as watching a TV show or movie or reading a book, is getting more and more buzz and, as I believe I predicted, has and is starting to leverage huge commercial potential as a vehicle to drive tune-in and engagement.  I wish I had had more time and latitude to get Time Warner Cable’s  “Automotive On Demand” listed there.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Eureka!  I’ve rediscovered specials and – in a way – trending on FourSquare.  And, in the process, I happened upon a tie in with Groupon.  It’s all so incestuous, these frenemies.  In the images below, please note: (a) “Special” next to my local designer pizza joint Freddie and Pepper’s  – tied in with Groupon (b) little person image next to the Beacon that shows that 12 people have checked in (c) This is new to me – “Show” icon next to the Beacon.  I’ll have to investigate that further.  Something GetGlue-ish???

Just arrived home from a phenomenal meal at a restaurant in Chelsea called Westville – an amazing meal thanks to all the people who left me tips on foursquare, from the scores of them who recommended the four market sides for $14 to a non anonymous stranger named Frank, who recommended the chocolate pecan pie.  My friend Nancy and I thank you all.

CHAPTER VI:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It seems that my taste in primetime television is on par with other GetGlue users – and that the app is gaining serious traction.  I chad into “New Girl” along with 7,173 other viewers and joined 14,682 other Glee fans when I checked into that show.  I watched both via DVR.  Keep you eye on this one.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Have you checked out Square’s Card Case app. You should. If only to experience the art of what’s possible. You can pay for things by simply giving your name to the retailer/merchant.

Ok, so I’m working my way through Mary Meeker’s 2011 Internet trends and discovering all kinds of treats and terms along the way.  Many of which are mobile, and many of which are location based.  (I’ve even adopted a new phrase: “Geosocial networking.”  Nice.)  Here’s one I find intriguing: Shopkick. And here’s what they have to say about themselves:
“shopkick gives you awesome deals and rewards simply for walking into your favorite stores. You can collect your kicks™ rewards at millions of stores in America, and great deals at many of the top national retailers. Crazy, but true.

Collect walk-in rewards: Have you ever gotten rewarded simply for walking into stores – yes, just for visiting? Now you can collect boatloads of kicks™ in the kicks Reward Program and unlock awesome exclusive deals at your favorite stores. Just walk into 1,300 Best Buy stores in all 50 states, and hundreds of Target stores, Macy’s, American Eagle, Sports Authority, Crate&Barrel, West Elm, Wet Seal and the largest Simon malls! Open the shopkick app on your iPhone or Android phone in the entrance area, and wait for a few seconds. That’s it! Your shopkick app will reward you instantly. It’s fun. shopkick is adding more stores in more cities every month.

Get exclusive deals: Discover and unlock awesome deals in the shopkick app at dozens of national stores, many of them are exclusively offered to shopkick users only.

Collect scan rewards: Collect additional kicks rewards by scanning barcodes of featured products with your phone at 250,000 stores across the United States.

Redeem your kicks™ for rewards! Get cool rewards like iTunes gift cards, restaurant vouchers, Best Buy/Target/Macy’s/American Eagle/Sports Authority instant gift cards, Facebook Credits, movie tickets, or if you go all out, a 3D 55″ Sony Bravia HDTV or a cruise around the world! And if you want to change the world, donate your kicks to 30 different causes!”

Friday, November 18, 2011

The next (current) phase in location based services is Near Field Communication (NFC).  (I call it a LBS because the two devices need to be near each other.) Here’s how wikipedia defines NFC:

Near field communication, or NFC, allows for simplified transactions, data exchange, and wireless connections between two devices in proximity to each other, usually by no more than a few centimeters.  It is expected to become a widely used system for making payments by smartphone in the United States. [Gosh, it seems like decades ago that I read about Japan doing this.  Oh right, it was.  It was commonplace as long ago as early 2006 when I did my first mobile study for BusinessWeek.] Many smartphones currently on the market already contain embedded NFC chips that can send encrypted data a short distance (“near field”) to a reader located, for instance, next to a retail cash register. Shoppers who have their credit card information stored in their NFC smartphones can pay for purchases by waving their smartphones near or tapping them on the reader, rather than using the actual credit card. Co-invented by NXP Semiconductors and Sony in 2002, NFC technology is being added to a growing number of mobile handsets to enable mobile payments, as well as many other applications.

And, here are some of the applications (by applications, I mean uses) – again, from wikipedia:

(1) Social networking

NFC simplifies and expands social networking options:

  • File Sharing: Tap one NFC device to another to instantly share a contact, photo, song, application, video, or website link.
  • Electronic business card: Tap one NFC device to another to instantly share electronic business cards or resumes.
  • Electronic money: To pay a friend, you could tap the devices and enter the amount of the payment.
  • Mobile gaming: Tap one NFC device to another to enter a multiplayer game.
  • Friend-to-friend: You could touch NFC devices together to Facebook friend each other or share a resume or to “check-in” at a location.

(2) Bluetooth and WiFi Connections

NFC can be used to initiate higher speed wireless connections for expanded content sharing.

  • Bluetooth: Instant Bluetooth Pairing can save searching, waiting, and entering codes. Touch the NFC devices together for instant pairing.
  • WiFi: Instant WiFi Configuration can configure a device to a WiFi network automatically. Tap an NFC device to an NFC enabled router.

(3) eCommerce

NFC expands eCommerce opportunities, increases transaction speed and accuracy, while reducing staffing requirements. A Personal identification number (PIN) is usually only required for payments over $100 (in Australia) and £15 (in UK).

  • Mobile payment: An NFC device may make a payment like a credit card by touching a payment terminal at checkout or a vending machine when a PIN is entered.
  • PayPal: PayPal may start a commercial NFC service in the second half of 2011.[15][16]
  • Google Wallet is an Android app that stores virtual versions of your credit cards for use at checkout when a PIN is used.
  • Ticketing: Tap an NFC device to purchase railmetroairline, movie, concert, or event tickets. A PIN is required.
  • Boarding pass: A NFC device may act as a boarding pass, reducing check-in delays and staffing requirements.
  • Point of Sale: Tap an SmartPoster tag to see information, listen to an audio clip, watch a video, or see a movie trailer.
  • Coupons: Tapping an NFC tag on a retail display or SmartPoster may give the user a coupon for the product.
  • Tour guide: Tap a passive NFC tag for information or an audio or video presentation at a museum, monument, or retail display (much like a QR Code).

(4) Identity documents

NFC’s short range helps keep encrypted identity documents private.

  • ID card: An NFC enabled device can also act as an encrypted student, employee, or personal ID card or medical ID card.
  • Keycard: An NFC enabled device may serve as car, house, and office keys.
  • Rental Car and hotel keys: NFC rental car or hotel room keys may allow fast VIP check-in and reduce staffing requirements.

The future (or past…) is here.

Sunday, December 3rd, 2011

I’ve checked into the Central Park Tennis Center 88 times and into my apartment building 726 times.

Wednesday, December 7th

On Monday of this week, Gowalla was acquired by Facebook.  That’s huge.  What impact will this have on foursquare?

Friday, January 13, 2012

The American Express tie-in with Foursquare has been simplified and is quite nice.  When you check into a participating location, you are notified of an AMEX special.  If you use your AMEX card there, you get a $10 credit on your statement.  Nice.  I’ve used it at a restaurant and a nail salon.  It’s a good promotion because it encourages you to use your AMEX card to pay – at the time and point of purchase.  Moreover, it gives you an incentive to spend at least $10, a requirement I met easily with my yummy chicken parmesan and lovely pedicure.  What will be especially valuable is to use it for an $11 manicure…

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Little to no mention of geolocation at Social Media Week NYC thus far.  Get Glue (not really LBS) was represented on a panel.  No sign of Dennis Crowley.  Pinterest and Instagram (which does have a bit of a geolocation aspect) are all the talk at the moment.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Facebook has recently enabled Near Field Communication (NFC).  Is this this first step towards social commerce such that you can transact within the social environment as you can within the Facebook newsfeed?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Starting in August 2011, I have posted several entries about Amex’s foursquare program. (See, for example, January 13th above.) For more insight and information, check out this live stream video of a Social Media Week panel. As a consumer, I did not realize at first that the strategy came from the B2B perspective, i.e., as a value add/service for AMEX’s small business customers (AMEX Open). The consumer insight was that AMEX cardholders, especially affluent ones, don’t want to pull out coupons or even show their foursquare checkin to a waiter or clerk. This way, by activating a special offer by simply checking in on foursquare and getting the discount credited directly to the user’s AMEX account, it can all be done discreetly (and simply). Now that I’ve got it all connected, I really like it, although… I haven’t had any relevant check-in specials pop up recently. Maybe I need to get out more.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dennis Crowley (the founder of Foursquare) is starring in an ad for Best Buy and Samsung smart phones.  Does that mean Foursquare is in the public consciousness or that smart phones have gone mainstream. Or both? I have to remind myself that there are people who don’t have smart phones. In fact there are people who don’t have acce as to the Internet, as evidenced by a public service campaign I saw recently.  To the second point, I recently had a moment of insight during a recent trip to Atlanta.  As I sat on the MART public transport system with my new iPad, I downloaded an app of the public transport system to familiarize myself with the journey, mapped the journey from the transit stop to my hotel, sent “text” messages to my tennis partner, checked my email, thumbed through my digital photo album and listened to music, I looked up to realize that no one else on the train was using a mobile device.  Ok.  One.  There was one person using an iPhone.  For those of you in NYC, I invite you to count the number of smartphones and tablets in use in any one car of a subway, particularly in Manhattan.  I would venture to say 75-80% are “plugged in.”  Very useful, of course, because it’s completely taboo to make eye contact with anyone else on the train.

American Express continues to leverage and expand its program with foursquare – and twitter.  It’s expecially evident during these three weeks of restaurant week.  I was pleasantly surprised during a recent visit to Aquavit that AMEX would reimburse me $5 for my $24 meal if I checked in and activated the offer on foursquare.  In fact, when I check into four restaurants (on my way…), I will receive an additional bonus – $20, I believe.  Today, I checked into China Grill and was devastated to realize that I had left my linked AMEX in my office!  I had taken it out of my wallet to buy a cookie for someone in my office.  That $4 cookie just became a $9 cookie!

Similarly, I recently checked into Andy’s Deli and received a notification that I would get $5 back if I spent $10.  This is part of a local deals program to encourage small, local establishments to accept AMEX.  I immediately upgraded my $3 salad to a $10 expenditure that included extra add-ins as well as two big bottles of water.  Unfortunately, I realized the next day, when I unlocked a similar special at the nail salon, that I needed to click through one more screen to activate the deal.  I had not done so the day before.  Hence, my additional $7 in expenditures went unrewarded.  I contemplated going back to buy 4 bottles of water for $7 rather than $12 but didn’t want to mess up my pedicure on the walk home.

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