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2010-08-19 10:41:32

Foursquare Makes Me Hate Twitter

Anyone who follows me on Twitter has probably been annoyed at some point by my constant, seemingly mindless updating or my incessant ranting. Usually the remark is something like, "No one cares what you're doing or where you're doing it". I, of course, know that is false. Though some people don't care, there are more than a few who do. Close-proximity friends can see where I'm going in the evenings and understand that, by virtue of me posting my location, an invitation is extended to everyone to come and join me. Family members can see that I've safely completed a flight or a road trip and are given a sense of security that they would otherwise not have. And then there are the voyeurs who just like seeing what other people are doing and living vicariously through them.

Twitter (and later Facebook, once they ripped off tweeting and relabeled them "status updates") is a perfect medium for this kind of communication. It's a synchronous kind of communication where you're not expecting someone to respond to you instantly, or at all. Think of it as your "away message" on your instant messaging client or your "out of office reply" on your corporate email. If nothing else, Twitter is useful just to let people know where you are if they choose to find out.

Somewhere in the recent past, however, many people across the Internet were coming up with ideas on what they would like to see from Twitter. Most people, by this time, had made location-based tweets part of their normal routine; notifying the world when they've arrived at work or hit up the local watering hole afterwards. There was really only one downside to the current method of tweeting your location, unless you were familiar with the area in which the person was roaming you had no idea where half of these places were. Even if you wanted to meet Joe after work at the place he tweeted you might not know how to get there or that it even existed. It seemed that something could be added to each tweet so that people knew exactly where you were. Perhaps a Google Maps link? That would take forever to find the place, mark it, grab the link, shrink it, etc. There had to be a better way.

Enter Foursquare.

Foursquare is not affiliated with Twitter. It is its own social network that does one thing, post where you are with a map link using your phone's GPS location services. It does, however, offer cross-posting capabilities to update your other social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. So, problem solved. Right?


Despite fixing the "where am I?" problem, they added some new problems. They are encouraging location spamming. Granted, even I can go overboard posting my whereabouts on Twitter. I try to keep my "location" posts limited to things that people care about like I mentioned earlier; doctor visits and flying cross country for my family, local hang out spots for my friends, etc. Foursquare, however, has turned this into an explosion. A big, annoying, I'll probably stab you in the eye if I see you in person, explosion. It's ridiculous.

Now don't get me wrong, it has its place. That place is inside of the Foursquare community. Because Foursquare has turned "where am I?" into a game to see how many check-ins you can get, how many badges you can acquire, etc. it causes people to make these posts way more often than they otherwise would. And like I just said, that's fine, as long as you keep this within the Foursquare community. Do you like when the Mormons stand on the street corners screaming at you that you're a sinner and going to hell? I don't like when you "scream" in my Twitter feed 30 times a day about where you are. It's annoying. It doesn't have to be, but it seems that everyone immediately turns on cross-posting as soon as they sign up for their Foursquare account.

What is acceptable in Foursquare-land is absolutely not acceptable in Twitter/Facebook/etc. -land.

Twitter, however, has had GPS workarounds for quite some time and with the recent round of client releases there are new location tags that can be automatically added to each tweet. They are non-intrusive and don't create another tweet. Every time you tweet, your location just gets tagged, behind the scenes, onto the post. Simple. There is no need for Foursquare anymore, unless you're one of the mindless Internet drones who enjoys ridiculous games like that *cough*Farmville*cough*.

So please, please, for the sake of everyone's sanity, turn off Foursquare cross-posting. At the very least, make cross-posting a per-post choice so that we don't see the 20 times you check-in to work during the day. Unclog the Twitter feeds. Do it for me. Do it for your friends. But mostly, do it so I don't hunt you down and throw your phone in the river.

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