Foursquare for the Holidays

Portland checkinsHappy holidays everyone. I got you a heat map. Do you like it?

I’m technically on vacation this week, but I cannot take a vacation from the Interwebs. While browsing feeds yesterday, I saw this post from Gizmodo titled “Foursquare, As Seen by the Predator”.

My crush on foursquare is well-documented, and I’ve always liked “The Predator“, the original one, not all the sequels. So, I was intrigued.

Turns out Steven Lehrburger (@lehrblogger) built a mashup of foursquare checkins displayed as a heat map overlaid on a Google Map. He calls it the Where Do You Go project, and he put it together for NYU’s ITP Winter Show.

He offers a couple different visualizations, several of which look like the Predator’s thermal vision. I guess that makes sense for a heat map. My heat map for Portland is above, and here’s the one from my visit to San Francisco for Open World.

Steven took his inspiration in part from 4mapper, which I covered recently when foursquare launched their API, and his implementation is sweet. A couple functional differences aside from the visualization, Steven’s mashup is dynamic, so as you checkin it updates, and he is pulling all my checkins, more than the 250 limit reported by John of 4mapper.

Maybe the API has been updated, or maybe foursquare, like Twitter, has a firehose API. That would make sense, since these checkin data are a goldmine to advertisers.

The dynamic bit is interesting to me, especially this time of year, as I’ve ventured out to places I don’t normally go to buy gifts, as depicted on the map. Yeah, I usually shop online, but this year I waited a bit too long.

From the beginning with foursquare, you can see the value of aggregated checkin data to local businesses. Now that Steven and John have put these checkins on a map, you can literally see how valuable geo-data can be.

I got you another gift, an early prediction for 2010. Here it comes:

Get used to geo. It’s coming soon to Facebook and will be the story of 2010. The main story lines will be mainstream acceptance or rejection of geo-tagging update, and advertisers falling over themselves and paying big bucks to get access to geo-data.

Anyway, for those interested, Steven built his mashup thusly:

Written in Python and hosted on Google App Engine, uses the Google Maps and Foursquare APIs, relies heavily on code adapted from the gheat-ae Google Code project, uses Mike Knapp’s OAuth library from github, uses jQuery and BlueprintCSS for the front-end.

His final conclusion is pretty funny.

Even simple web applications are hard to build to be robust, scalable, and ready for a larger audience.

So, enjoy the holidays. I’ll be back next week to finish the epic WebCenter VM journey, review 2009 and look ahead to 2010.

Find the comments if you feel motivated.

AboutJake

a.k.a.:jkuramot

12 comments

  1. Sorry…tried hard with the FourSquare thing…experience did not equal hype. I can see the potential, but current state just didn't get it done for me.

  2. Don't be sorry. It's really early in the adoption cycle. I heard they have tens of thousands of users. So, I expect the game to ramp up as more people join. I'm bumming that Portland hasn't got any new badges in months.

    Paul and I have discussed the model at length, i.e. take a unit of work you want your users to do and wrap a game around it. There's gold in them thar hills, for enterprises especially.

  3. I'm with Floyd. Maybe I'm beginning to hit that “old-school” age. The new and shiny objects are beginning to look out of focus.

    @jake, what are you doing blogging while on PTO. Enjoy your holidays!

  4. You can't deny that there are mechanics to foursquare that would apply to work. I'll bet they could make the game appeal to you too. See Twitter for an example.

  5. Sorry…tried hard with the FourSquare thing…experience did not equal hype. I can see the potential, but current state just didn't get it done for me.

  6. Don't be sorry. It's really early in the adoption cycle. I heard they have tens of thousands of users. So, I expect the game to ramp up as more people join. I'm bumming that Portland hasn't got any new badges in months.

    Paul and I have discussed the model at length, i.e. take a unit of work you want your users to do and wrap a game around it. There's gold in them thar hills, for enterprises especially.

  7. I'm with Floyd. Maybe I'm beginning to hit that “old-school” age. The new and shiny objects are beginning to look out of focus.

    @jake, what are you doing blogging while on PTO. Enjoy your holidays!

  8. You can't deny that there are mechanics to foursquare that would apply to work. I'll bet they could make the game appeal to you too. See Twitter for an example.

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