Using Location Based Social Networking Sites

As I’ve become more and more attached to using Twitter, I (like most everyone else) has enjoyed adding more rich information into tweets. I personally love including links to a photo, which essentially renders a tweet to a caption (Arguably it also adds a 1,000 words or so to your actual tweet length). I have also been trying to use some of the location-based social networks on and off for a couple of years now, most of which seem to thrive based on their integration with Twitter.

First, we had BrightKite, which – while an attractive site – was trying to do too much. Foursquare and Gowalla both seem to be restricting themselves to I was here and did this1.The value I see in these is to add some location context to a tweet (rather than the game of Foursquare or Gowalla, for which I couldn’t care less). It also provides a way for any additional data I wish to add to be made available to others if they happen on the same spot.

That being said, it is very annoying to me that these two methods for adding information to tweets (images and locations) aren’t really integrated better. After struggling for the better part of 15 minutes to add a Flickr2 photo to a Foursquare post, I figured I’d likely never try that again.

Twitter + Foursquare + Flickr = headache

Perhaps it could be argued that having multiple URLs in a single tweet is a bit much information for a system that was built around minimalism. To that end, I at least try to provide enough information in the tweet itself to make it of some value. I almost never just use the default “I went to [blank]” text in Foursquare. If it is worth posting, it’s worth letting others know why I did it. This is how I choose to use Twitter. That is, letting anyone interested in what I think know what I’m doing and why it is of value. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t seem to be the intention of many of the services on Twitter.

  1. It’s no coincidence I use the past tense here. One of my issues with putting my location online, in real time, while doing something away from home is best explained by the site PleaseRobMe. While I don’t worry too much about actual thieves tracking my whereabouts via the web, I find it best practice to limit who knows where I am and when. Thus, I generally post to Foursquare just after I’ve left. I’m just cagey like that, I suppose. Some feel this abuse of Foursquare is cheating the game. To those I would point to above and remind them that shit = not given. []
  2. Despite Flickr’s adoption of their own URL shortening, it has been poorly adopted by Twitter, its clients, and its services. The lack of integration there really puts a damper on my interest in using these as well. Why must I use TwitPic (less attractive and interesting to me) when I already am a long-time Flickr user? []

Ad Blocking Software

I don’t have a really good solution to what Ars Technica’s Ken Fisher describes as devastating to websites (ad funded sites, anyway). However, I don’t use ad blockers myself. I’m a big fan of ad-supported, freemium versions of software and sites, and it’s my way of supporting those which I am not willing to out-right pay for. It’s not that I don’t know now to install or use these, I just choose not to. Frankly, when a site, application, or even a television program offers relevant ads, I’m often thankful to have seen them. I subscribe to the idea that effective advertising is just seen as information, not a sell.