A few months ago I noticed a new (to me) thing happening a lot on Twitter. There were a lot of people broadcasting their location. It wasn’t like this didn’t happen already. I know plenty of people who used Twitter to tell people where they were. What was different about this new thing was that the posts followed the same script and included a link with the person’s location on a map. Well, that was quite a bit different than before. With this new system instead of saying “I’m at ___ park” people were saying “I’m at ___ park and here is a map to that park”. I was intreagued. I learned that this was the “hot new thing” and it was called geolocation or location-based social networks or something like that.
I read up on it and learned that loads of people were playing these games. There are different ones. They go by names like Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite, Mytown and Rally Up. You use your phone (of the smart variety) to check in at local venues to tell your friends (or everyone on Twitter) you are visiting and if you check in enough (and the venue is hip) you may get a prize of some sort. I know I over simplified that but my mom reads this so I have to make sure she can understand it (Hi mom!) For more information read this, this and this.
Like I said, I was intreagued. So when I got my iPhone I signed up for Foursquare and Gowalla to see what the hubub was all about. I used them both for a few months and I can sum my experience up like this. Unimpressed. I just didn’t get that much out of checking in at a bunch of different places. It wasn’t terribly fun. Maybe I did it wrong. I didn’t broadcast my location to Twitter. I didn’t feel like letting everyone know exactly where I was. Maybe that affected my experience. I don’t know. I didn’t know many people playing either. It would probably be a lot more fun if a bunch of my friends were playing. But they weren’t. It just wasn’t all that engaging. I’m pretty sure I’m not the target audience though. I think these ‘games’ will continue to gain popularity but I just don’t think they are for me. I’m glad I gave it a shot. At least I know what they are and how they work. I’ll keep my accounts though…just in case I decide to jump back in.