Sunday, July 11, 2010

What is giving an innocent children's game a bad name?


Q: So what if you have a stalker that's too lazy for Twitter?
A: I'd suggest you sign up on foursquare.

I really don't remember the rules of the game "Four Square" that I often played as a young schoolkid during recess. It involved one of those super-useful do-anything spheres of physical education that are used for every random sport including dodgeball and kickball. However, I'm pretty sure once I was able to shoot a basketball from more than five feet away Four Square became a permanent afterthought.



Now we have the Internet phenomenon "app" of foursquare. I first heard of it this past March, in anticipation of SXSW (pronounced "south by southwest" for the unhip). Tech minded yahoos, pun not intended, were looking forward to finding out what venue would have more buzz or people or what have you.

I will have a difficult time explaining Foursquare to you if you haven't heard of it yet, or seen it crawling on your News Feeds. You're better off asking someone who actively uses it, not someone who is taking a disdainful look at something he doesn't completely understand. Essentially, Foursquare asks its users to "check in" to wherever they are at / doing now.

For example, "Sally McImportantpants has checked into the Art Institute of Chicago with 27 others" I'm not exactly sure if that "Sally" actually wants to connect with the other people who have checked in or not? Also, you might see "Peter Loudmouthski is the Mayer of the Burger King in Niles, IL." I have zero clue what these "Mayors" of Four Square mean. It looks like it's some kind of a competition?

Call me old fashioned, but if I'm someplace of note I'll take a picture of where I'm at with my iPhone - which I will then either post as a mobile upload to Facebook or use it as a start to a blog that I can also write remotely. Emailing said post directly to Blogger for instant publishing. Yes, I'm fully aware how illogical and hypocritical it is to make fun of and denounce another new nugget of the 21st century on a blog. But let's not let that stop me.

Foursquare is taking this "look at me" culture to a next level. It's a perfect venue for us ordinary people because you won't see famous people clogging it up. Why not? Because foursquare conveniently inserts a Google map of wherever the foursquare user checks in.

At first, it almost looks like an invite (and I've seen some foursquare users specifically use it as such). But I think the circumstances to take someone up on that kind of invite are rare. Upon second look, the posts can be somewhat mocking - especially when people check in to sold out events. But manly, they are are advertisement in the mundane - but that's just me and my boring life.

If you happen to read this, and use foursquare - please tell me why I should think differently.

Some sites, like Twitter, have turned themselves around and validated themselves to me. I'm still enjoying roaming random Twitter feeds. Which leads me to close this post with another slice of Twitter, from Nick Kroll (a comedian many first saw on those random VH-1 culture commentary shows like I Love Whatever, but is now on the FX series "The League"):

In my next life I'm coming back as a vuvuzela so I can be really annoying and still get blown constantly

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