Are great for cleaning and organising.
Archive for May, 2010
I don’t consider myself an early adopter by any stretch of the imagination, mostly because I can afford to be as my close friends are. By proxy, I get to hear about how cool the coolest things are and make a purchasing decision several months or years down the line if ever (in the case of second hand tech). In the case of Foursquare, I’d been hearing about it and Dodgeball for _years_ so when I started using it on my trusty BB in March, I thought this was all old hat and was, as usual sceptical. I have to say it’s changed my opinion of a few things but also makes me think about others.
If you’ve never used Foursquare, it’s easy: you “check-in” in places and get points according to how often you check-in in a day, how far each check-in is made from the last and how often you check-in to each location. This leads to all sorts of things like you become “mayor” if you go there often enough and depending on how popular the place. I became mayor of 5 places in less than 2 months of “playing”. Some of these places, it was simply awarded after having gone there twice. Others took more work. I hadn’t played a “game” in years and I found that I looked forward to seeing how many points I’d won. There didn’t need to be an arch or grand narrative of why I was getting all these points, and I hardly visited the online infoviz bit. The points were enough to keep me entertained and that was good enough.
PRESENCE vs _PRESENCE_
All in all, probably about 3 to 4 of my friends used Foursquare regularly and they’re really good friends. I found myself however, mistaking the fact that I could see where they went with real contact. I had coffee with them less, talked to them about what they did less and generally was less social during that time. Strange, it’s like feeling awake from looking at the picture of a cup of coffee. Do we emulate the sense of social presence through these games, online services and communities, without any action needed on our part and just a passive action on the part of the other.
WOMEN vs MEN
I like print on weekends. So when the Guardian had a massive double spread article called “Is Foursquare the New Twitter” (funnily enough the title in print is “Is Friend-stalking the new Twitter”) I was intrigued of course. Much to my surprise, they managed to squeeze in this piece of terrible pseudo-science:
There is, according to Dunbar’s research, a marked gender difference in the way that we use social media. It is, in this respect, not surprising that the early take-up of the geo-location sites is weighted toward men. “To avoid relationship decay among friends, men have to do stuff together, for women it is enough to chat.” The real-world slant of Foursquare and Gowalla make them natural vehicles for male bonding. Added to that is the opportunity for peacocking with their mobile phones, which have, to the evolutionary biologist, become a substitute for sexual display (men will always put their phone on the table and fiddle with it, women tend to keep theirs in their bag…).
I’m not even going to start ranting about the bits of this that I don’t like. All I can say is by these standards, I’ve turned into a man. Ridiculous.
So all in all, it was an interesting experiment. I’ve stopped using it for about a week now and I the only thing I regret is the knowledge that I’ve lost the mayorship of my favorite lunch place to some of my friends who work in the same area. Made me wish for an automated system that just checked in on my behalf and played the game without my intervention. Just keeping my kingdom alive for me, letting me get on with the social things in life.