Friday, February 19, 2010

Location! Location! Location!

Social Media Week: The Best NY Tech MeetUp Ever

I take hometown pride in FourSquare. Twitter is in California, but FourSquare is in New York. I have met the two founders in person, Dennis (@dens) and Naveen (@naveen), although I am not Facebook friends with either yet.

Craig Newmark, Dennis Crowley, Jennifer 8 Lee: Koreatown
Dennis Crowley: I Underestimated Him

Make no mistake, FourSquare is on the cutting edge. Location liberates the web. Time magazine's person of the year one of these past years - You - would like to share where he/she is. There is a funny video on YouTube from last year that shows the successor company to Twitter will disallow vowels and hence make messages shorter even. Ends up, we were not going in that direction after all. 140 characters are a good size for the atom. But we were instead going for something simpler and more fundamental.

I never thought Google might kill Facebook or that Facebook might kill Twitter. If anything the dawn kills the night, it is not the other way round. FourSquare will not get killed by Twitter or Facebook, and it is far ahead of its competition Gowalla. Did I spell that right?

Location is going to be the starting point for many things you might want to do. And because FourSquare does location, although late to the game, FourSquare I think is poised to beat Twitter itself in the monetization department. Are you telling me my customer just checked into my establishment? How can you not monetize that?

It is official, we are now an urban species. Homo Sapiens Urbano. I took to FourSquare gingerly. I avoided it. Then I started texting in my check ins. Now I realize it is such an essential tool if you are trying to turbo charge your social networking. Roaming the tech and biz circles in the city is like going to all the top schools in the country at once. NYC is cream of the crop. You want to feast on people as you move out and about.

FourSquare makes it fun to explore a "dense" - Dennis' word, you can tell, the guy really likes his God given name - city like New York City. Big cities are popping all over the world. Actually it is impossible to explore without.

I never integrated my Twitter account to my Facebook account. But I have integrated FourSquare to both Twitter and Facebook. Most of my Facebook friends are not in New York. Heck, I went to high school in Kathmandu. My Facebook page is public - anyone can visit all corners, so I don't have to feel bad about not accepting friend requests - and it has more than 10,000 pictures of NYC. I plan to add tens of thousands more over the years. I do that for my non New York friends. NYC is magic all over the world. My FourSquare check ins allow me to share some of NYC with my far away friends.

I remember looking down upon Twitter starting out. I only jumped onto the bandwagon in February 2009, thanks to @jobsworth. What am I doing? I am staring at the computer screen. What do you think I am doing? 140 characters, that must be for the lazy bones. I write full blown blog posts. What do you think I am doing?

My skepticism with FourSquare was not as pronounced, but I have taken to it rather gingerly. I was not at all excited when they did their demo at the NY Tech MeetUp, I believe last March. Many startups fail. Not all that do not fail are on the cutting edge. FourSquare is on the cutting edge. It is rightly called the next Twitter, although it might take a year or two to scale out to Twitter size. I am patiently waiting.

Last night I checked into five locations on or near Bleecker St just to make a point. Go FourSquare.

Dennis (@dens) and Naveen (@naveen) are not Charles Darwin, not even close, heck, if they are Evan Williams, and Jack Dorsey, or Biz Stone, they have not proven that yet, but they might, I think they will, and I would not put the two as being in the same league as the Google founders, not now, not five or 10 years from now. But this Please Rob Me talk reminds me of a heckler taking Charles Darwin to task: So if you are suggesting we descended from monkeys, may I ask which side of your family would that be for you, did you descend from the monkeys from your mother's side or your father's side?

I don't accept friend requests on FourSquare from random people. Knowing you might not be enough down the line. And some day I might disconnect my FourSquare with my Twitter and Facebook, but that day might be a few years away. FourSquare allows you to share location, but it does not force you to share it with everybody. You can choose not to share that widely. It's your choice.

Considering how easy it has been for me to become Mayor of two places, one thing is for sure, if you are on FourSquare and checking in, you are easily a member of the tech elite. And if you have not been visited by burglars yet, it must be because there are not that many burglars among the tech elite.

If you are sophisticated enough to play with FourSquare, you are sophisticated enough to know what your privacy options on it are. And if you are sophisticated enough to code Please Rob Me, you surely know you are messing with the facts. That is dishonest.

Fractals: Apple, Windows 95, Netscape, Google, Facebook, Twitter

For long TechCrunch has been my favorite blog, but I am beginning to have my doubts. I think ReadWriteWeb might be better, although with less traffic. TechCrunch pulled a cheap stunt on Farmville, and now they are trying to do the same with FourSquare. You don't report on the cutting edge if your first instinct is to demonize the cutting edge. Maybe you can't be trusted with the cutting edge.

Anu Shukla Has Found The New Frontier In Advertising
I Just Became Friends With Anu Shukla

TechCrunch: Please Rob Me Makes FourSquare Super Useful For Burglars
TechCrunch: FourSquare Reponds To Please Rob Me: Please Shut Up
Mashable: How Robbers Did Their Dirty Deeds Before FourSquare
Gawker: How Not To Be A FourSquare Jackass
FourSquare: On FourSquare, Location And Privacy

The message I left at the various blogs: The  real culprit is the construction industry. They have not applied invisible paint on our houses.

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