If you follow our team on Twitter or Facebook you may have noticed our activity on location-based social network Foursquare has gone through the roof in the last couple of months. This flurry of activity is due in part to a Tinnovation session we ran at the end of August, reviewing our location-aware application, TomCat.
Location is very much on the tech agenda again lately with the announcement and launch in the US of Facebook Places, whilst we still wait to be tied into the service this side of the pond, Foursquare is very much alive and kicking.
The Foursquare service allows users to "Check In" to a location, see who else is checked in plus view user-generated tips about the location. This can prove useful in terms of recommending bars and restaurants, allowing business owners to promote offers to Foursquare users. The service also has a game element to it in that if you check into a place the most number of times in a given period you become Mayor of said location. As the Mayorships begin to accrue the user finds them self compelled to check in more regularly in order to win the coveted location. Another element awards badges for tasks completed, being out three nights running earns you a Bender badge for example, check in to three different places with a photo booth earns a Photogenic badge.
We'd dabbled with Foursquare when it launched back in 2009 but frustratingly the majority of places you attempted to check in to hadn't been added to the database making check in's a time consuming process to all but the most dedicated Foursquarer, with the service a year or so old now most places in central London have been added and is therefore a lot easier to use.
But what we're really interested in is the data, lots of lovely data. After a few months checking in there will be a wealth of information about our activities, where we go, what we do, who we meet, our plan is to use this data to map our favourite places in and around TheTin HQ and present back in a visually stimulating form.
Some work has been done in this area, our newest Tinnovator, Spencer spotted this work by PHD student, Anil Bawa-Cavia on Wired.co.uk. Anil has taken a cut of all Foursquare data at a given time and created a heat map to display hot spots across the city.
Interesting stuff, our goal is to produce something far more personal about us, our company and our habits. We've got another session booked in this Thursday so watch this space, if you'd like to get involved drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.