Read & Respond – Week 6

To tie in with our “in-class” mapping project, this week’s readings all deal with the subject of location-specific news and social media use. Get ready to get located! Or at least to read about it.

As always, we’ll start off with some Foursquare news. Our pet application has recently partnered with the New York Times for the 2010 Winter Olympics. This post also describes Foursquare’s teaming with Zagat, the well-known recommendation guide, and Bravo, the well-known home of shows about great chefs and horrible people. Among Zagat’s ideas are a series of “meet the mayor” where you can learn more about the #1 users of various sites (at least as far as Foursquare is concerned). In this older link, the application’s partnership with San Francisco’s light rail system, users can earn free tickets by checking in. What do you think of these uses of location-specific updating? If you don’t see much value here, can you propose better uses of the idea (not necessarily with Foursquare, but in a general sense)?

Location is predicted to be the keyword of 2010. First, have a look at what Jeremy Littau has to say on the relationship of social media and sense of place. Some are calling it as a necessity for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Others have suggested it as a way for newspapers like the New York Times to save their profession (and as an alternative to paywalls). And of course, Twitter is gearing up a location aware feature, and Google Buzz is trying to get into the act in its own way. Read-Write Web offers a few perspectives on the location-based trend, but rather than link the rest (there’s a lot), I’m posting this link to their page for all articles tagged “location based.” Have a look through.

So what’s happening with location out there? Why is it happening now? What are the assets and problems you can see, and what’s it all mean for your chosen line of work?

As always, post your responses HERE (not on your blogs!) by the close of business next Monday, February 15.

Finally, in meme news, it turns out this onion ring CAN get more fans than Justin Bieber. No word yet on the pickle vs. Nickelback showdown.


14 Responses to Read & Respond – Week 6

  1. austindrizzy says:

    I think this is a cool idea. I do not know much about Foursquare, but I like the fact that it is evolving and branching out to get more information from social media companies like New York Times, Warner Bros. and HBO.

    “We saw thousands of Foursquare users checking in to Zagat-rated restaurants, and saw an opportunity to present content to them as well as engage them in game-play.” I like this idea, but it needs to be throughout all cities in America, especially the cities that are not as well known because this will help visitors get in touch with the city, eventually as the technology grows I am sure this will happen.

    I also like how users who check into a Zagat ranked restaurant get tips and best dishes/dessert advice and they will have interviews with Mayor’s of certain buildings/hotels/restaurants etc. My favorite part about this reading is how it will team up with the Vancouver Olympics because this will be a great way to integrate gaming and the way visitors of the town and surrounding areas get their information on where to go, what to see and where to eat.

    Jeremy Littau:
    I like how he explains foursquare and what it means or how it is useful to somebody. Basically it tells you where you are located and you get badges or become mayor if you are there a lot, if you have checked in more than thirty times, if it is your first time checking in etc. I agree with you and him that in today’s society and generation it is very meaningful for us to have things that we can achieve or gain so we feel like we are not wasting our life. Intrinsic value.

    I also think that is is very useful because of the business value. As you can see already above that foursquare is teaming up with huge companies to get their social media across to the mainstream. More and more location based products are becoming popular and they are happening now. The rise of certain products and the fact that companies want to cash in on this are the reason why location based things are occurring now. Here is a good example on why four-sqaure is useful and helps with location:

    “By itself, that is super useful because it acts as a type of location-based wiki where users add to the record about a place and help us define that space with a little more context.”

    I like how it has journalism potential:

    This quote: “Sure, nobody cares that I’m at CVS, but there is value in me adding tips that the lines seem especially long during certain times of the day.

    That’s where the journalist’s role comes in. Foursquare is a platform full of journalistic potential because adding information to the record is what we do.”

    This is the best part of the entire readings. Not only do we, journalists, get to add to the record, but now we can add overall content and information to certain places in and around our community. I think he has a cool idea implementing that in a classroom, what I great way for students to get involved in the community, get good experience reporting and giving advice and helping the overall community and humanity by giving tips and information about places.

  2. blackedoutblog says:

    Foursquare is not the first oriented-based software. I can remember seeing Boost Mobile commercials on TV with maps and pins locating where contacts were standing.

    Back then, I said to myself, “Why would I want people in my phone book to know where I was at all times?”

    It seemed like a pointless ideas until you flash forward today and this kind of stuff is everywhere.

    I think Foursquare is a neat idea that could give journalism a boost. For one, readers can pinpoint locations where stories happened or are developing.

    It also will allow sources to talk about locations where news is happening. Journalists can just follow their maps to the location to find the story. It would cut out a lot of investigating that journalist feel they have to do to get a story.

    On the other hand, this would only be successful in big cities where travel is not an issue.

    Small towns or where news is spread across the state would not benefit from location software.

    Because Foursquare is primarily a business, it makes sense for them to expand their services to Zagat, Bravo TV and BART Promos just like Twitter has before.

    Jeremy Littau

    It seems like Littau is pointing out the non-serious side of Foursquare by mentioning their use of badges.

    The badges don’t give the user anything and are worthless. This plays into the game aspect of the American conscience. If we feel like we are winning things all the time, we will be more likely to participate.

    “I am working on ways to get something Foursquare-like into the classroom, maybe not this term but next fall. If we were to treat the app as a wiki platform, my simple idea would be to award points for value-added information. The goal would be to map different sections of our community over the semester, adding as much detail and information as possible.”

    This is how I imagine Foursqaure to revolutionize the Journalism industry. Thousands of voices will be providing information to a database that can be used for story ideas or a whole new style of newspaper.

    What if the newspaper was written by the people?
    A lot of writers would be out of a job but it would make journalism the citizen’s voice, literally.

    Location-based software will not be the primary way for businesses to get their name noticed.

    Search engines are here to stay no matter what. Because of the nature of SEO’s, they will always be the way primary wat people find the businesses and products they consume.

    SEO’s, which encompass a lot of Internet sites, (,, ect) contain the most user population.

    It would take a hell of a lot of people using Foursqaure to compete with the people using Google.

    Sean Blanda: NYT Should Copy Foursqaure
    While I agree with him in a lot of aspects of his suggestions, I think some ideas might be flawed.

    The idea of making people “experts” of things just because could be problematic. That’s why people go to school…to be certified as actual experts.

    Giving badges to the most commenters will shut out additional ideas. It will create a world for the NYT in which they only hear voices that are on the Internet or agree with them.

    • blackedoutblog says:

      As far as the future of journalism and location based software I don’t think they go hand in hand.

      In a way journalist benefit a lot from being disconnected from their audience because it’s easy for a reporter to ignore the possible truth for a consensus opinion.

  3. I think the Foursquare/Zagat deal is actually really encouraging for the direction of social networking. I think by Zagat making reviews based on what the readers are responding to is good turn for this social network. It’s nice that rather than just suggesting things like the Urbanspoon App on iTunes does without an emphasis on user reviews, they have clearly defined suggestions from their user database. I think it also shows that this application is highly multifunctional beyond being a status update with your current location. This partnership is a new way of advertising and providing publicity for restaurants without them having to do it.

    I like the additional Foursquare partnership with the Bay Area Rapid Transit service and how they’re encouraging participation with a reward. Consumers can provide various tips, some helpful, some not on how they feel about “BART” services. The only thing I can see going wrong is if the service gets sloppy, then consumers have a direct avenue to provide others with tips on how they are unhappy with it.

    Concerning Jeremy Littau’s article on Foursquare, I agree with the whole free advertising idea. The place is being advertised without having to do anything which is neat. Foursquare seems link an integrated version of a comment section, only it’s targeted based on your friends. I also think the idea of being able to inform users when the crowds are heavy or when a restaurant has a line is incredible.

    I’m not so sure that the idea of Twitter including location is something that needs to be done. I abandoned Myspace because it became too cluttered, and am on the same track with Facebook, I really don’t want Twitter to follow in those footsteps. I think that the idea is neat. I would rather see how location is incorporated within the Twitter website as well as my Twitter App. This is something I see myself checking out though, just to see how it works.
    I have to say one thing about the onion ring/ Justin Bieber fan page. I don’t understand how Facebook users can become a fan of everything that’s ever interested them. For example “so and so became of fan of Spongebob’s face when he found out that Squidward likes Krabby Patties.” I have so many updates like this cluttering up my page that it’s annoying. I get that they may have been a defining moment in television history for “so and so” but do we really need to become fans of everything?

  4. gavinwv says:

    I like the way Foursquare gives people a sense of person and of place. I think its a good way for people to map certain tendencies that they have and don’t even notice. I could envision this idea expanding as business and technology catch on to the potential earnings.
    What if Foursquare could update itself. Every time someone stepped into a WiFi Hotspot their Foursquare App. on their smart phone would log them into that location. Eventually a profile could be built for an individual and businesses could target them directly by location.
    Say it’s around noon and you are logged in at your office about to take your regular lunch break. A Foursquare alert pops up with a great lunch deal minutes from your location. It doesn’t even have to be a place that you have ever been to. Businesses can target exactly those people they wish, without having to waste time or money on anybody else.

    As far as journalism goes I think that this could be a very positive innovation as well.
    I think that weather and traffic reporting could benefit greatly as a detailed map of these things is created through multiple updates.
    If sites like Foursquare caught on image how easy it would be to find sources whom witnessed events that you were covering. A reporter could go down a list of everyone near the event that they are covering maybe even find mention of it in someones update.
    I’m sold on the fact that location based social media is something to be excited about today and in the future.

  5. kenziekat says:

    I find this location based phenomena both spectacular and disturbing…

    Apple has proposed a way to locate your contact, which, as a previous post mentioned is somewhat old news. I see where some social media geeks would find the proposal useful, spectacular, and perhaps even inevitable…I, on the other hand, find it terrifying. Social Media is developing at such speeds that I fear all privacy once guaranteed to individuals will be lost in the social networking black hole.

    I prefer to not let the whole world know where I am at all times. Regardless, I wouldn’t mind knowing where people were and what they thought about certain places. I like the aspect of FourSquare that people can comment and give “tips” on certain destinations. That’s helpful. But just knowing where someone is for no apparent reason? Not helpful.

    I guess my biggest issue with this location buzz is I just don’t see the benefit. I see the stalking potential and not the benefit. It’s a huge intrusion of privacy, and although I for see many using it, I don’t envision myself participating in the stalking app.

  6. From a business perspective, location-based apps are a hot commodity. You can monitor your customers’ behavior, tastes, most-traveled to locations, and even demographics.

    This is the stuff that advertising dreams are made of. How many times have you been asked to fill out a survey and refused? Or been given one of those little comment cards and thrown it away when the waiter wasn’t looking? By making user-feedback into clever little games, businesses are finally getting the information about us they have so long desired.

    After reading about Zagat and the Winter Olympics teaming up with Foursquare, I wonder how the rest of the tourism industry can use this to cash in. Maybe Expedia or Travelocity can start offering some kind of vacation discount if customers “check in” at certain hotels, restaurants, etc. they are partnered with. Who knows?

    What I have a problem with is the appeal to the individual. So far, aside from a few little coupons here and there, there is no real benefit to Foursquare users. Yes, it’s a fun little game to play on a night out, but so is Farmville or Solitaire.

    I suppose my gripe is wondering if the “benefits” of Foursquare really outweigh the costs:
    * It’s fun to play – check.
    * You get cool discounts – check.
    * You get to brag about being the “mayor” of something – check.

    But, at the same time, you’re openly inviting the capitalist gurus of Madison Avenue to use your personal information to further manipulate you into buying their products.

    *Looks down at Nike swoosh on sneakers… it may be too late.*

    Regarding the Jeremy Littau article, I must say that if an article can push me past my comfort zone and thoroughly confuse me as to where I stand on an issue, I take notice. This article did just that.

    On one hand, Littau makes a poignant argument on why I should give Foursquare another chance:
    “At its best, news provides us with a sense of place about our surroundings by telling us things about the places we live that we might otherwise might not know about.”

    This is so true. As a tool, Foursquare is open to all sorts of possibilities. I’m imagining a more efficient version of the WVU Text Alert where Foursquare can alert us to dangerous situations, impromptu public events, or a car wreck that’s congested traffic.

    But just as I was ready to whole-heartedly embrace Foursquare, Littau said something else:
    “On Facebook, it adds a little Google map so you can see the location visually.”


    Have we already forgotten about the Craigslist killer?

    It scared me enough to think about people knowing where I was every time I (hypothetically) checked into Foursquare. But publishing a little map that gives people directions to find me?! I can’t even fathom it…

    From this aspect, it seems that just as the character from Greek mythology from which it draws its name, our own Narcissism may ultimately lead to our demise.

    It all boils down to this:
    Other than corporations trying to sell you something, or creeps eyeing your every move, no one really cares what you have to say or where you’re saying it.

    Honestly, they don’t. Why? Because they’re too busy thinking about what they have to say.

    Like all new technology, these location-based apps can be used for good or for evil. It is up to us as its users and pioneers to use the proper discretion and fortitude to make this technology work for us, instead of against us.

  7. After reading these articles, I feel like it’s all just another big reminder that pretty much everything is about money. I guess in some ways the deal with Foursquare, Zagat, and even HBO can be very useful. It gives consumers more options, but at the same time I feel like it’s just annoying. I mean who really cares who is the mayor of a certain building through an internet fad site. If that is the highlight of your life, maybe you should find a life. It just seems like a waste of time to me – for the most part.

    I do think the feature of being able to post tips about different things, like what to eat and what not to eat at a certain restaurant is a neat idea. Obviously plenty of people don’t agree with me that it’s a waste of time since the company is signing these types of deals. So that leads me to the question, why do people care where other people are all the time? It’s just a little too creepy for me.

    And the idea of Twitter adding a geolocation feature to its site? I still don’t see the point. It just literally gives a map of your life out to the entire world. But, clearly I seem to be in the minority and it will probably take off. I guess people are just genuinely interested in what other people are doing – all the time.

    It seems like Foursquare is still in its beginning stages, but will likely get pretty big over the next year, especially if businesses end up giving some type of discount for being the “mayor” of their location.

  8. nochickflickmoments says:

    Honestly, I hate the idea of everyone knowing where I am. Why do people I haven’t talked to in ten years need to know that I’m at the grocery store? Even if I were famous with some sort of interesting life, I still wouldn’t want my privacy invaded like that.
    As far as location goes from a professional standpoint, it’s still kind of weird. Who knows what could happen if someone you didn’t want to know every detail of your life did? Sure, they’ll make some kind of protection options, but how safe are those really?
    I can’t believe Foursquare has taken off in the way it has. I think people just crave ego boosts these days. It’s all about friend requests or Twitter followers or blog hits. We just aren’t content with ourselves anymore. I think it will come to a point in which something drastically bad happens and people back off of having every know every detail about their life.

  9. Oh the fascinating things we humans think of to fill our time!
    I agree with the overall theme of all of these posts – location will be the next big thing for social media. Really, it seems to be the next logical step. You can already post about what you’re doing, what you’re thinking about, and where you are – and you can post photos to further explain what you’re doing, so of course you’ll want to be able to map out where you are for everyone to see. As for why it’s happening now – it’s likely because everyone is anxious to catch on to the next big thing. Myspace is already a graveyard, facebook is probably getting old, and not one actually uses twitter anyway, so there needs to be something else to fill the space the ‘old’ forms of social media will leave when we get bored with them, and location simply hasn’t been exhausted yet.

    I personally see a lot of potential for location-forms of social media. While reading through the articles, I kept wondering if foursquare, or something similar, would work in the three African countries (Ghana, Benin, and Togo) I’m going to over the summer as part of a J-school trip (will probably look into that when I get done here). Something like foursquare would be helpful, on that trip, in keeping my family back home up-to-date on where I am and what I’m doing and save me the costly international calls home. Also, by posting information about a place in a foreign country, especially those that are not typical tourist destinations, you add to an overall knowledge about the world at large – and that’s just plain cool.

    I remember lots of students discussing the potential to be stalked, hunted down, and killed, or in less dramatic terms, have you privacy invaded by things like foursquare, but I think these might be over exaggerations. With proper privacy settings, and careful management of who you add as a friend or contact, these shouldn’t be problems.
    There is also the issue of producing information no one cares about, or information you don’t want other users to have easy access to, but that can be resolved with proper account settings and knowing how to use these programs. I remember when a friend of mine back in Seattle linked up his foursquare account to facebook, and all his friends got to hear about him getting on/off the bus, going to the same restaurant every night, or finally going back home – and we all made fun of him for being so vain as to think we needed this information. So there is that issue, but again, accounts can be managed, and as long as people are in control of the information they are putting out on the web (and have friends to make fun of them if they’re being obnoxious) it shouldn’t be a problem.

    For journalism as a whole, it’s really hard to say how this will all play out. It could just add another aspect to be incorporated into the overall re-designing of news products for online markets (in fact, I think it will be). Journalists, and media outlets, need to use all they’ve got to keep up with the times. However, I think it may present an issue to where the limits of what can be reported lie. Reporting a crime and adding a map to where that event took place, or mapping where a reporter is while they’re working on a story, could bring out the “look at me, I’m in TV” crowd and ruin the work being done. To argue the other side, location reporting could add another level to the story. I was reminded of the West Virginia Uncovered project when thinking of how something like foursquare could be used in the media. When covering a little-known town, a whole-in-the-wall shop, etc, (as the WV Uncovered crew tend to do) posting updates on where the reporter is and what’s going on could add to the story, and bring more attention to the hidden gems that are out there to be discovered. So there is potential for such technology, if used correctly.

  10. ecmoore19 says:

    When I was in elementary school I learned the basics of journalism (who, when, where, why, what and how). I’m sure we all did. But the basics of a news story can also be seen as the limitations we are trying to break through with the Internet and social media.

    Social media and the Internet have broken through who, when, why, what and how. Information is immediate and complete. You can find out almost anything about a person, issue, product, place, event, etc. in real time. Those barriers have already been broken down so what’s next?

    The where. Now we have broken the limitations of the computer and an Internet connection that is tethered to a phone or cable line. People are using phones and other pieces of technology (insert iPad here) to break through restrictions that were previously placed on the Internet. Social media has surrounded us and now we are just entering a new dimension of connection. Location is just the next logical step.

    I think the assets are clear. By bringing location into the realm of social media, we can take the abstract connections the Internet allows us (this restaurant is good even though you’ll never go here) and make them concrete (this restaurant is bad as you walk through the front door). What I’m trying to say is that location-based applications make your feet the search engine. The information will now follow us instead of us having to track the information.

    And sure, watching someone walk around town through one of these applications isn’t that great but Twitter wasn’t supposed to be substantial either. Foursquare and other programs like it will evolve and develop into something more. As for the stalker potential – you get to be the one to decide whether or not your location is something you want to share. Yes, it is new and scary, but the idea of putting your full name and picture on the Internet was a few years ago too.

    Professionally, I think location based apps will effect us on a different level than we want them to. I get the feeling that journalists are hoping location becomes the new face of traditional journalism but I don’t see that happening. Truly newsworthy stories are relevant to more people than those in the direct vicinity (Olympic news matters to those who aren’t in Vancouver too). Location based stories are going to be much less exciting (best soup at a restaurant or the quickest elevator) at least for the time being.

  11. When reading about this Foursquare stuff I am finally realizing this thing could be a very good idea. At first I thought this was stupid and was wondering why people would ever what to use some location based program, but then I realized I thought the same thing about Twitter at first and now I use that all of the time. For Foursquare to team up with Zagat for the things like the Olympics is a genius idea. The more I think about it when I travel somewhere I want to know where the best restaurants are and some of the best places to visit and this can help out. I think this agreement Foursquare has will help this program grow and get bigger.

    Since this is already being used in the Olympics it will become more well known. Think about it, there is no sporting event bigger than the Olympics and if all of the people there see how foursquare works and its helping tourists out who are unfamiliar with the area they’re in I think people will use something like this to their advantage. Since I do quite a bit of traveling I may start one up so it will help show me where some great restaurants are and other things.

    In reponse to Jeremy Littau, he seems to be very up-to-date on what is going on with most things related to interactive journalism. When I read his post that is when I first began to think ‘this Foursquare thing might have a chance.’ It takes people to make something work and the more and more I hear about Foursquare the more people I hear are using it and if people keep using it word of mouth will make it spread and soon everyone will know about it, just like twitter.

    I’m very excited to see how this location based program will work with Twitter, I’d say that is the one social media program I use the most and with all of the people I know who use it I can’t see them not trying something like that out. I think something like that will be the first way to get people hooked on something. When people use it with something they are familiar with (like Twitter and Facebook) there is a better chance of them getting hooked. I’m excited to see how far this type of social media can go.

  12. Kander says:

    It seems that in today’s world everyone is craving attention. Everyone wants to broadcast to the world what they are doing or where they are as a sort of showing their status.
    I do not see the positive in being able to know where everyone is all the time. Even for the sake of “updates.” I don’t need to know if there are any tips for restaurants near me. If I was hungry and wanted to go to a restaurant I would look it up on my own.
    Social networking sites are taking everything to an extreme in an attempt to outdo each other.
    I would hate to be the one acting like a mom but it just seems dangerous. It isn’t that all of this location stuff wouldn’t be convenient or helpful at times. I am sure it would be. I just know there are some people out there who would abuse the knowledge. If knowledge is power then this could get really dangerous. There are people who cannot handle power.
    We all laugh about “Facebook stalking” or “MySpace stalking” but it is legit. People do it and if people knew where you were constantly or what you were doing or buying (with that crazy credit card site now) then there are no limits to how easily it would be to stalk someone.
    I’m just saying even though good could potentially come out of the location applications, bad would definitely. It isn’t that the person can’t change but people don’t. If history can teach us anything it is that there are crazy people living in the world and the crazy people are always the ones are always smart. So they would know how to use this type of technology for their crazy benefit.

  13. hillbillie22 says:

    I’m actually kind of torn between the whole Foursquare, everyone knows where you are thing. It’s a good thing because it allows people to tell others about good or bad experiences they’ve had at places they’ve visited. It’s like the next form of consumer reports, fueled by users and minus the scientific testing. I think it’s a great idea that Foursquare teamed up with Zagat for the Olympics. If people didn’t really know about the application before, they will now. But……it’s also a really creepy way for anyone to know where you are. If someone really wanted to find you and bring you harm, all they would have to do is go to Foursquare and look you up. I mean, I realize it’s your choice to use these applications and it’s your choice to put your info up on the web, but it’s still creepy. Nowadays, it’s easy to get information on people without this application – why make it easier for people? I probably wouldn’t use Foursquare based on that principle and because I don’t have a smartphone.

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