Foursquare and Three Hours Ago

winter luas
Creative Commons License photo credit: mac_filko

TAKING ADVANTAGE of being in Dublin for the day or two, I finally got around to trying out Foursquare, having signed off before boarding the train a half hour ago.

First thoughts? Not too bad at all, Bernie Goldbach having already paved a way for me (seemingly) around Grafton Street and Stephen’s Green – this coming from the tips that were pushed through to me depending on where I checked in e.g. “as you are close to Brown Thomas…” etc.

That type of user input could come in handy. A tip from Bernie had me check out the top floor of BT, one from Una M had me scouting the massive mirrors in The Morrison on Ormonde Quay, and other tips coming through suggested helpful staff or places to eat.

Given the type of shopping we were at for the day it was primarily clothes shops that were hit, the frequency at which I checked in (“nothing here, let’s try the next shop up” etc.) wasn’t appreciated by the application, twice being accused of cheating my way around Dublin.

Tips aside, I can see and appreciate where the fear or security element may creep in. (See Niall H’s post from earlier today on privacy concerns ovre geolocation servies). A recent Christmas dinner with Keith, John and Frank Bradley arose conversation of social media savvy criminals and having my own home broken into a few years back (possibly due to my well advertised-online gig schedule), I would certainly be more aware of broadcasting my every location and every move. But things have changed about the house, new alarms fitted (and annoyingly loud), some people now sharing so there’s usually someone there around he clock. For those not in that position, or given the ability to broadcast your location instantly via Twitter or Facebook, are we starting to give too much away and putting ourselves at risk to certain unsavoury elements as a result?

Also, from my travels around Dublin today I was able to piece together where certain offices were, who the bloggers were within them, and given the mayors of certain eateries, where their breakfast or lunch breaks might be taken, or where they might be found during the evening if they’ve checked in for a pint in X on more than one occasion. Does it give way to unwanted profiling, or again allowing too much information about ourselves out into the open?

I had opted not to integrate Twitter / facebook to Foursquare or Gowalla, which I had been trying at the same time, more so not to be bugging people who follow my online activity with my every move – the in-built social side of Foursquare (friends) should and does take care of that. But again, while I’m happy tweeting and blogging away about where I might be off to or where I’ve been of late, I’m still not 100% on the notion of pushing absolutely everything about my whereabouts online.

Privacy matters aside, the offers I was alerted to while walking around the likes of Grafton Street and Dawson Street, though none were availed of, also show me that Dublin businesses are starting to get on board with geolocation, offering rewards for the use of location-based services that bring you through their doors. Some offered free cocktails, one a free three course meal for your birthday if checking in, others offering combinations of offers for the mayor of a particluar establishment.

If the likes of Foursquare was opened up to cover Ireland on a whole, or add a few ports-of-call outside Dublin, I might be more tempted to engage it as a way to avail of updates and offers from businesses in the locality but I’ll assume all in good time. Time in itself that might get me more comfortable in sharing my exact whereabouts with the rest of the world.

By the way, if you’re heading to Dublin tomorrow or in the next few days, it’s colder than cold up there. While the streets had begin to thaw today and the council had been out to grit a few paths, it’s still messy underfoot and icey around the ears. Wrap up warm.


Post started on WP2.1 on the iPhone somewhere between Dublin and Athy and wrapped up back at the ranch where it’s an awful lot handier to get photos and links in on the laptop.