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.