Monthly Archives: November 2009

Foursquare location tagging and creation ideas

I know this has been a focus of mine in some recent postings, but I like to exhaust looking at a site and using it as you would, everyday.  Then giving my feedback, opinions and summaries.  Foursquare has a place in the market with a future, that I am sure.  When it will catch on is yet to be seen.  This is what is missing right now from taking the next steps in my usability eyes

- A client, other than the mobile web, for mobile devices and smartphones.  The iPhone is the place they will start.  The BlackBerry and Android should be soon to follow.  With the native client I can interact faster, add far more integration into the device itself and provide an experience based on the device, not the website.

- Enable site tagging from the mobile interface.  See above first in making a proper client.  I already have fields for name, address, cross street, phone numbers and even Twitter accounts for the location.  How about one for tagging?  Having this only available via the web leaves most places with no definition.  You have search enabled for tagging, but not entering.  No wonder there are so many empty.

- Allow me to find my friends in any city as a toggle.  Just because I am not in NYC that instant doesn’t mean I am not headed there or want to locate someone.  The mobile web only shows me the local people.  A great choice for default, but expand it, allowing me to see everyone in my network when needed.

- Open more of the great stats found online to the mobile device.  A native client would make this simpler but just adding this would add some interest.  Even when exploring other people.  How active are they, where do they go most.  (Almost moves toward stalking, but they have to approve you first anyway)

- Speed the process of creating new badges.  I liked the idea of being able to outline and submit ideas for new badges. It was hard to find, and many I asked didn’t know you could do it.  But a great way for businesses to have their own.  Think of sports teams making a badge for those that check in at their venue a specific number of times.  A great incentive that could have awards behind it.  The same stands true for restaurants as well.

As I add more friends and am able to see how they interact, I still wonder where the revenue model is unless ads are a short time coming.  I am not talking intrusive ads, but ones where a sponsor is able to place an ad around where you check in, meaning you have an interest in that already.  Not just wildly placed ones that had no bearing on my likes and past visits.  Yes, this is how FourSquare also acts being able to create a pseudo history of places you go and how they are tagged.  All learned behavior.  Look out for something like the Facebook Credit Card coming along base on those same premises.

A showstopper from letting Google Wave in the enterprise – for now

While reviewing the specs and digging deeper into Google Wave federation, while waiting for a flight, I ran across a show stopper for any enterprise thinking about using this in deployment for now.  Yes, it is beta.  I don’t want to hear it.  But, someone as your company has thought since this mightbe the next big thing you might want to get in early.

Currently, Google Wave does not have any granular ACL (access control list) support outside of allowing and not allowing.  There is no reader mode.  No Depositor. You either see and participate in the Wavelet or don’t.

The focus currently is on the actual federation protocol itself.  Security wrappings will come soon enough.  However, you should resist the urge to create your own server and federate with the sandbox and utilize and type of private information.

With the eminent rollout of attachments, spam filtering is soon to follow as well according to documents in the Google group.  Actual federation does use SSL and starttls for communication, which is a huge win over most collaboration platforms.  Yet the lack of individual wavelet control should have you testing the waters on the public server and playing in the sandbox itself.  Just not connecting to federate in anything but an isolated, segregated test server.

The idea is still fascinating, jumping back and forth between real-time communication, sharing working data and email itself.  A blend of this caliber would take the normal user a year to get used to in most enteprises.

Google Dashboard – what does Google see in you?

The Google Dashboard has launched giving you a single column look into your life as published through Google.  I express my unhappiness in the launch below.  While the UI is plain as we would expect Google to do, it is full of information and it growing to encompass all of their services (they state that 16 of the services are not yet on the Dashboard itself).  The list itself is quite long:

  • Accounts
  • Voice
  • Blogger
  • Alerts
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • FriendConnect
  • Gmail
  • Latitude
  • Picasa
  • and yes more..

The point is not the long list, it is Google showing you what you have hooked together and how their sites interact.  It indicates what is public versus private and how you appear across the great chasm.  Each area allows you to manage the profile show or privacy settings under each area with icon indicators for publicly shared data —> Be very aware of this icon in the data you have being shown to you.

What section you should next pay special attention to is your Google search history.  Including images.  This lets you know that you have enabled tracking for your Google history.  I know corporations are worried about what data is being shared out to the Internet but this individual dashboard won’t be visible to anyone but the account owner.  All the benefit goes to the individual.

Now Google was quite excited about what the dashboard itself would offer, and I agree with Mashable on this one in that it is nothing more than an unflattering UI that makes a list of certain things instead of being a workable dashboard (a la Gist for contacts).  Google could have really done something here to make a united view that became a portal for my Google activity.  Including allowing me to add Google Apps accounts and widgets.  Instead of just a simple iGoogle page for gadgets, I would have an account interaction, not management screen.

They could have also added a sweeping privacy control ability as they bring the authentication and profiling closer together across the sites themselves.  The ability to make a single click selection of all sites and change a picture, hide an email address, open it to everyone or anything else might make this worthwhile.

My grade?  A 3 out of 10.  It was heading towards 2 but I know they had to write hooks into each system to pull and show you the data itself.

Foursquare badges – worth the effort?

I posted how Foursquare and restaurants/clubs/whatever can work together to drive traffic by offering incentives.  As I recently started getting emails from Foursquare about unlocking and earning new badges, I wondered what use they were and who saw them.  Actually no one sees them unless I visit your profile page on FourSquare.  Here is what mine looks like right now:

As you can see you earn badges for each city independently.  The first being the newbie and first check in.  To promote the usage of Foursquare more, it would be nice to have a widget for badges or at least Mayorship of every location you have to place on your blog if you intend in using this over other location services.

Mayorship becomes more important for public places showing a location you may often be found as well as a promotional item.  While this breaks a lot of SocialStalking rules, Foursquare is a game and should be treated as such.

Another addition would be the ability to at least show my feed of locations as I check in on the side of my blog or page.  Currently that is only found on the profile page for yourself and friends.

I think what I am driving at as I rambled at the beginning is that while Foursquare is fun, the manual check-in (non GPS enabled) process and lack of integration with publishing to other social sites (outside of a tweet you can enable which many people hate seeing), makes using the site on a constant basis a struggle.

What I did appreciate is how badges are assigned and how you can suggest your own.  For example, visit a certain number of venues tagged with gym in a month and get the Gym Rat badge.  As a user you can also suggest badges for specific things and what the badge itself should look like.

Overall I like the idea of Foursquare and I know they are working on expanding as they even add more mobile client capabilities (BlackBerry would be nice, hint).  So I will keep an open eye on their growth.  Plus to make sure no one steals my Mayorships.