FourSquare: local's great, but it needs to be meaningful

Foursquare, the location-based social app based on “checking in” to locations for fun and deals, has massively updated their site. Yes, the old-fashioned, actual, website thingie for embarrassingly large screens on heavy machines that don’t fit in a pocket.

It’s all about discovering what’s around you, and guess what, a bigger screen makes the experience better:

The first thing you’ll notice when you load up is a big map on the top (you can click on the arrow to make it even bigger). It shows everything interesting nearby – your friends, places that are trending (in yellow), places on your lists (green), places with Specials (orange), and places that are popular (blue). You can even drag the map around or zoom in and out and all the interesting places update automatically. Try dragging it around to see how it works.

It’s a great idea, and the execution is beautiful. I’m just not sure how useful it is yet.

Here’s an example of what I see:

Let’s break this down:

  1. Foursquare knows I’ve just checked into Subway. Ergo, I’ve just eaten.
  2. Foursquare knows, or should know, that after going to Subway in the middle of the day, I usually go back to the office. I’m certainly not hungry for more food.
  3. I hate sushi. I have never checked into a sushi place

So, why is Foursquare showing me more restaurants? I’m not hungry, I just ate, and I don’t like sushi. But, everything local, apparently, is an eatery of some sort.

This is not meaningful. And it is not useful.

Sometimes, the best answer is no answer at all. And sometimes, the best suggestions are those that are not made. Location-based services have to learn this so that when there is a good suggestion to be made, it is more credible.


1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Great points. Developers need to ask themselves, “If I, as a real a human being, knew all this about a stranger, what would I say to them next?”