WHEN DERVALA HANLEY visited Tipperary Institute and spoke to creative multimedia students about innovation at the city guide level, I hadn't realised that she actually worked with the Foursquare team in another life. After playing with Foursquare for nearly a month, I've "checked in" at around 100 places, topped the Irish leaderboard by becoming the first person in the Dublin group to visit 50 unique venues as well as becoming mayor of more than 10 places. Along the way, I discovered I'm easily victimised by the serious gaming nature of Foursquare. This is not like a game application on Facebook--this is a game-based metaphor for people who like getting out. My quest for badges--I collected 10 of them in two weeks--could push me into late night clubbing more than any other motivation. And if Foursquare turned on the juice to its API, all sorts of extra activity would fill my nights as venues pushed enticing information (i.e., special offers, location advice, ways to get physical copies of badges) to my phone. It's fun to tag, share and shout across Foursquare and to earn unexpected badges, like one for staying out extra-late during a school night. Although Foursquare lacks the diversity of information offered when using Google Latitude, it's interesting to read what's tagged around different places. Look up "pizza" when using Foursquare in Dublin and you can see what others have said about Italian food. Unfortunately, some of the power users I'm following don't say much. This is important because quality recommendations are a core part of Foursquare's DNA and think it would be only natural to have a five-star rating guide made part of Foursquare because commercial premises can live or die on their ratings. In other cities, commercial offerings are appearing on Foursquare screens: "Show you have checked in on Foursquare and that you're mayor and get a FREE drink!" This kind of viral promotion will work well with Dublin pubs and attract clusters of people who just happen to be in the same part of Foursquare. I've already seen a table of people hunched over their iPhones in dimly-lit corners while the bartender asked me, "What are they doing over there?" "They're in another place," I told him. "But they still have to buy their drinks."
I'm topgold on Foursquare. I'm the guy adding a lot of the sunny southeast to the Foursquare "Dublin" city guide, because I can.
Drew Benvie -- "Permission to Market to You Right Here Right Now" on his blog, 16 Nov 09.