By Rachel Schwarz
The first time I had ever heard of FourSquare was when I investigated HootSuite and TweetDeck over the last couple of weeks. At its simplest, it’s one more way for people to stay connected and let others know what they’re up to. It’s sort of a glorified version of “Places”, an iPhone app that allows you to “check in” your location, be it a restaurant, airport, or residence, and inform others where you are.
FourSquare takes the check-in process a step further. If, over a sixty day period, you check in to a certain location more than any other FourSquare user, you are crowned “mayor” of that location until someone else checks in from that location more often than you. Other than the Internet glory of being named “mayor” of a location, I don’t see the value in this feature other than entertainment and gloating rights.
As I continued my research, it became clear that FourSquare isn’t just a method of checking in, but it’s somewhat of a game. In addition to becoming mayor, a user can also earn badges based on higher usage and a larger percentage of check-ins. Additionally, you can gain higher levels of “usership” based on how active you are in the FourSquare world. There are three different levels of being a SuperUser, which is a badge that you can earn.
While HootSuite and TweetDeck were truly invented as a means to making social networking easier, FourSquare seems to be technology for the sake of technology. There is no advancement or additional convenience as a result of this app.
Applications and websites like FourSquare concern me. It’s already so easy for hackers and other potentially dangerous people to find out your name, address, and phone number. Why are we broadcasting our location for the world to see? I can appreciate the technology at use here- it’s extremely advanced, and very cool. However, if I want to find out where one of my friends is, I will call or text. In my opinion, applications like FourSquare seem to be asking for trouble, so it will be interesting to see how the protection of FourSquare users is advanced as tracking ourselves gets easier.
HOOTSUITE UPDATE: There is a very cool piece of HootSuite that I missed during my first overview of the website. You can create tweets and set them to post at a specific date and time in the future. You do not have to be at your computer- once it is set, the message will automatically be posted! This is a huge convenience for anyone who travels, wants consistency in the time of day his or her tweets are released, or isn’t good about remembering to tweet/post status updates. So, HootSuite: 1. TweetDeck: 0.