Now that my iPhone is unlocked (yay!) and has a data plan, I can play Foursquare. Which is exciting for me, but I know some people hate it and my boyfriend has been getting all angsty about giving up my privacy for nothing.
The thing is though, I love tracking things. I track the applications I use, and the music I listen to. I track random things on Mycrocosm. I track my todo list through Remember the Milk and my goals page and I use various applications for tracking how I’m doing on Twitter (am I tweeting too much? Tweeting stuff that’s interesting?). I track my blog stats through Google Analytics which means I can say that when I added related posts to my blog, my bounce rate went down. I’m a bit of a data junkie, I guess. But that is probably fitting considering that to describe what I like to work on I’ve taken to saying, “I take data and try and present and organize it in a way such that I can answer questions that you didn’t think to ask.”
Not everyone is interested in doing this, of course. But I’ve been thinking about why I like to document my life and track it online like this and I have an answer. And no, it’s not that I’m self-obsessed and want everyone to know exactly what I’m doing, all the goddamn time. It’s my way of keeping a journal – the journal I tried to keep at numerous points growing up, but never had the dedication to stick with. It’s easier! I track my music and application use just by running stuff in the background. My task lists are a little more arduous to maintain, but they can be updated anywhere and the payoff in terms of organization is well worth the time. Twitter allows me to keep track of funny or useful articles I find online and document the highlights of my days in snippets, now I archive my tweets into weekly blogposts for easier searching. My blog is a history of things I’ve thought about and worked on, it documents my ideas and is search-able, and sometimes I find things in the related posts section that I’ve forgotten I wrote.
Now with Foursquare, I can keep track of where I’ve been. And I get that it’s annoying when your every check-in gets posted to your Twitter or Facebook stream, so I don’t do that. Currently it’s set to post only badges and mayorships, but I’ll turn that off if they’re frequent occurrences. Here’s what I’m getting out of it:
I’m a big fan of this idea, I like the ease of keeping track of people and staying in touch this way, rather than the long “this is everything I’ve done in the last month” emails. And I suck at writing emails anyway (working on replying, I’m getting better at it), so nobody gets those from me. This makes it all the more useful to have places where people who are interested in what I’m up to but can’t be bothered to write the email and wait for the response can keep up with me, and hopefully I can keep up with them in return. If you’re not that person and my content is boring, I’m sorry – but it’s not meant for you. I tend to use Facebook for this, because it’s closed and I tend to limit it to people I know, but I think Foursquare can potentially be nice for that too.
OK, this hasn’t happened yet but I hope it will. If I’m in Starbucks and you’re nearby and fancy a coffee then maybe you’ll come by and hang out. That’s kinda cool! And the other day when I was meeting friends at a restaurant, I knew one of them was there because his Foursquare check-in popped up on my phone. That’s potentially useful, too.
I really want to be Mayor of where I kickbox. Perhaps some people might find that a little sad, but if it gets me training more isn’t that a good thing? Competition encourages me to get out there, and visit new places. It’s pretty cold in Ottawa right now – the more motivation to get out and about, the better.
How about you? Do you think Foursquare and services like that are stupid, or do you use them? And if so, why – what do you get out of it?