I signed up for Twitter in November 2006 (I think). And did nothing with it for a fairly long time. Alan “so cool that I’m coming to a conference near you soon” Levine posted his Twitter life cycle, capturing perfectly my experience with the service. From “this is dumb” to “I can’t stop” in no time at all. Lately I’ve taken to Foursquare (my account is here – you will notice that I am mayor of many coffee shops). When I first heard about the service, I concluded it was largely a waste – a means to extract information, helping to fulfill Bentham’s Panopticon vision.
Since then, I’ve determined that Pavlov and Skinner would be proud of how well the designers integrated behaviourist feedback and intermittent reward to draw users in.
Foursquare is a simple service that lets you share where you are with your network. You get points for checkins and badges after you’ve visited a certain number of places. But that is hardly the real impact. I’m comfortable stating that foursquare will be as big as twitter…but with greater potential impact. Why? Foursquare blends virtual and physical worlds – combining social networks and offering new geography-based connections. Twitter doesn’t have a revenue model yet. Foursquare does – once people identify where they are, what their interests are, sales and marketing services as a step away. And it’s starting already: newspapers are using the service. Have a look at Metro – an interesting blend of news, marketing, and community. Something quite significant is emerging here. Watch Foursquare. But stay out of my coffee shops. I need my mayoral badges.