Location, Location, Web 2.0 - Foursquare is Built for Many Devices

Post date: Oct 24, 2011 9:48:04 AM

Foursquare is a location based social networking game. Users ‘check in’ at locations announcing they have been there in competition to become mayor. People contribute through submitting their thoughts, locations, pictures, information about their current location and friends (Wikipedia, 2010).

Utilizing features only available on cell phones has heavily contributed to Foursquare’s functionality and success. Photos are taken using cameras, locations recorded using cell location services and the application relies on a phone’s connectivity (Foursquare, 2010). Combined, these features have created an application that couldn’t exist solely on a desktop computer or phone.

In the company of desktop computers, Foursquare can be used on iPhones, Android phones, Blackberrys, Windows mobiles and systems running webOS (Foursquare, 2010). An application is currently being developed for Nokia handsets (Guim, 2010). The way each platform is used to its strength and data is shared between devices and services, makes Foursquare a great example ofsoftware above the level of a device.

O’Reilly (2007) uses the example of iPhones being managed by iTunes to show how software can work in tandem to ensure a better user experience. Foursquare follows a similar model allowing users to manage their profiles online. This means users aren’t required to type or read great amounts of information into/from their phones. The mobile applications are then left to perform the task they are great at, being mobile and more so, immediatelyrecording users’ thoughts or pictures in the context of location, harvesting rich forms of media.

Foursquare intends to generate revenue through advertising. Businesses can advertise directly, targeting people who are regularly nearby their businesses in the form of couponing (Carlson, 2009). Data generated by Foursquare has been used to create mash-up applications.

Fourwhere, a desktop web application, uses collected data to display comments made through Foursquare on a map. This is a great example of how Foursquare extends the usability and functionality of their data using the context of location (Sysomos, 2010).

Notably, Foursquare encourages usage by allowing users to import friends from Facebook and Twitter. These services are also used to broadcast a users location.

In summary, Foursquare utilizes the strengths of many devices, including a broad range of phones and desktop computers, to harvest rich media in the context of location. Thinking forward we may soon see such applications incorporating the accelerometer and future phone features as they are released and patterns indicate this trend may lead to richer data being harvested without an increase in conscious human interaction.

Questions for thought

What other data types could be harvested without the need for human input?