Foursquare is a new mobile app that helps you follow your friends (and helps your friends follow you) when you go out. It that sense, it's not so different from other legal-stalking apps like Google Latitude, which lets your friends track your location on a Google Map through their smartphones. The catch is that Foursquare adds a funky layer of gameplay. If Foursquare sees that you're spending a lot of time at one bar, it names you "Mayor" of that watering hole, and so on.
Is this a dumb idea or a really good way to check if your friends happen to be a few blocks away? I wasn't sure myself, so I debated the issue with Government Executive's Madeleine Kennedy, who alerted me to the article. Here's a transcript of our conversation:
Derek Thompson: Would you use this?
Madeleine Kennedy: Yes, I think I would use it. I think it's a nice, easy way to track where
your friends are without having to call or text. And if you're just
hanging out in a neighborhood and happen to notice a friend you may not
have seen in a while, why not go say hi? Would you?
DT. Good point.
"When Foursquare first came out, it actually blocked users from checking in during weekday work hours. That sentence would be more truthful to the real world if you changed "Starbucks locations" to "bars owned by the same people" and "free coffee drink" to "free Maker's Mark." Which is how Foursquare is going to probably do very, very well."And so when I was looking at the foursquare feed on their website, I saw things like "Phil W. in Richmond: became the mayor of The Martin Agency." That isn't particularly cool or interesting... that guy probably just works there.
MK: More embarrasing: "Kyle D. in Boston: became the mayor of Spangler Dining Hall." I'm sorry, I dont want to be the mayor of my school cafeteria.
MK: That would certainly be more entertaining. But businesses see this this badge/mayor thing as a way to make money like some are rewarding their "mayors."
MK: I think that's fair.