Tuesday, April 13, 2010

If The Tweet Is The Atom, What Is Location?

The tweet is to the web what the atom is to the universe. Twitter was hot for the first half of last year. This year the heat/buzz seems to be with the location space people, FourSquare leading. What is location? Location is one of the sub atomic particles: electron, proton, neutron. Begs the question, what are the other sub atomic particles? And where are they? Are they in the works?

The mobile web is growing faster than the regular web, and location is so very fundamental in that space. It is so much easier to check in than to tweet out. When you are on the move, even 140 characters can feel long.

Maybe location is in a league of its own, maybe there are no other sub-atomic particles. Or maybe the tweet is the atom of the regular web and location in the atom of the mobile web. The atom metaphor can only be taken so far.

Check in is a basic feature. FourSquare has to try to own it, it has to extend that feature to other web properties. Google took over the web with Google ads. My blog and your blog could run Google ads. Facebook took over with Facebook Connect. FourSquare needs to do something similar. There is a much lesser incentive for my check in to exist on the FourSquare website than it is for my social graph to primarily reside on You want to be able to take your check in with you to many other places.

I made this point in a comment I left at the official FourSquare blog when the Please Rob Me controversy was raging. (Location! Location! Location!)

More recently I came across a blog post by Robert Scoble that was another aha moment for me as far as FourSquare is concerned.

Only a few days before that Robert had put out a blog post that was rather hostile to FourSquare and the location space in general: Malleable Social Graphs And Mini-Mobs: Why Facebook Could Destroy Foursquare And Gowalla With One Check In.

Basically what he was saying was Facebook was going to offer location, and that was going to kill FourSquare. I left a comment saying Robert, dude, you are so missing out. A few days later he put out a blog post that blew my mind: Are Location Geeks At Where 2.0 Off The Path To Real Money?

In this post he was saying he wanted to check in into future locations. He wanted to be able to say where he was going to check in a week or a month from now, and that that check in was more monetizable. I agree. I wonder how FourSquare will respond to that.

Craig Newmark, Dennis Crowley, Jennifer 8 Lee: Koreatown

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