Playing With Foursquare Data

Foursquare is the new Dodgeball. Which is to say that it is my (and many other people’s) method for tracking where we go (and in most cases our social activities). On a daily basis I use the iPhone app to announce some of my whereabouts to friends. I share specifics selectively, but in aggregate my information is shared publicly. (Disclosure: Foursquare is an OATV investment)

Foursquare has a lot of data about me and I willingly give it more most days. Foursquare lets me check-in to a specific location. I earn badges based on where I check-in, how often, and with whom for the various cities I am in. In addition to letting me share my movements with friends I am building up a history of places — not just points. Foursquare uses OAuth to let me share these places.

brady foursquare map

WhereDoYouGo is an ITP project that creates a custom-colored heat map of your Foursquare haunts. You can generate maps for any city you’ve used Foursquare in. It was written in python and runs on Google App Engine. The team also acknowledges the following projects: Mike Knapp’s OAuth library, the Google Maps API, the gheat-ae (and gheat) Google Code projects, jQuery, and Blueprint CSS.

(via Gizmodo)

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Last Night’s Checkins, created by the seemingly ubiquitous Barbarian Group, sends me a mail (almost) every day listing the previous day’s venues. I diligently fill in a brief note under each checkin about what I did and mail it back. I never have to visit the site. I love apps that interact with me only as much as necessary (Tripit is another great example of an email using webapp). I had signed up for this as a lark after reading about it on Techcrunch, but now find it to be a useful tool.

Mobzombies is a soon-to-be-released iPhone game (I first played it several years ago on custom hardware) . The game overlays a virtual game level complete with obstacles and zombies to chase you. You can save your character by running around (the game uses the accelerometer to track your movements). The Foursquare tie-in is not intuitive, but is pretty clever. The number of checkins influences the number of zombies spawned — more friends equals more zombies. Sometimes there are advantages to drinking alone. The app has been submitted to the App Store.

Foursquare isn’t just a geo platform. One of the things that sets it apart is its use of game mechanics to incentivize people to keep using it. The more you use it the more badges you get. Soon Foursquare will open their platform and allow custom badges to be created. Until then to get a custom badge you’ll have to use Waze, the only external service that has its own Foursquare badge. The pairing makes sense as Waze uses game mechanics to get people to use their GPS program (Radar post).

You can see all of the current Foursquare API apps (like place-ranking site SocialGreat) in their developer portal.

Dennis Crowley, founder of Foursquare and Dodgeball, will be speaking about the use of game mechanics at Where 2.0 this March.

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