Gowalla and Foursquare

I have become quite alarmed recently as several people have inquired about my sobriety. Oh dear, how can this be? I like a pint of beer – but not so much or so often that people should feel the need to mention it?

What can be the cause?

Some months ago. I took to using situational social Apps like Gowalla and Foursquare as I moved about the country. These Apps just sit on my phone and use GPS to register (with my instigation) my presence in place ‘a’ or place ‘b’.

I started with Gowalla for no other reason than it seemed to be the one least used by friends. I had thought there were too many of my Facebook ‘friends’ using Foursquare and that Gowalla needed some attention.

I started by noting my presence at a number of venues already registered with Gowalla and then as I became more used to the system, I registered a number of venues on the system myself. These venues included the local village, where I shop, the local pub where Sharon and I might meet after work for a drink before dinner and the local bakers – which is a real delight. All was going well until my connection to the Gowalla servers became very erratic. Some registrations wouldn’t load while others just disappeared. I found this frustrating and decided to reconsider my actions.

Although I have no real reason to use these tools for my own satisfaction, they are systems I felt that I should experience and research as part of my wider work role as the use of virtual and situational services has great potential. Gowalla’s lack of reliability made me move over to Foursquare – I didn’t particularly want to, but my peers were saying “use ‘Foursquare’ Dave”.

So, on Foursquare I can (and have) now become the ‘Mayor’ of various places. I become mayor by being the person that attends/visits a venue/location most frequently in the previous 30 days (don’t quote me on that, I’m working from received wisdom here). Each visit to a registered site gains me points which then show on a leader board that shows how you compare to your other friends. So an element of competition does creep in here, which makes Foursquare a little more user friendly than Gowalla. There are other services – I just haven’t used them much yet.

The big problem is, as alluded to above, people now think that I am a alcoholic!

Many of the venues already registered on Foursquare and Gowalla are social venues like nightclubs, pubs and restaurants. These are the sort of venues that people go to to relax and perhaps stay for longer than one might if buying a pack of aspirin at the chemist (although some chemists are registered). It’s much easier therefore to register your presence at a venue where drink is served than where you might buy milk or petrol. And I do!

What I don’t do, is register my presence at every place I visit (they may not be registered or I may not have the time or inclination) or at home – somewhere I spend that vast majority of my time. Giving the exact location of your home may well be folly – especially if you happen to note that you are going on holiday soon. The pub visits therefore stand out and even if they are at the end of (or in the middle of) one of the beautiful walks we have around my locality they just make me seem like an alcoholic.

Hic.

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Reflections on 2010

Looking back (as we are apt to do at this time of year) I see that it is almost twelve months since I first blogged about the accessibility functions of the iPhone. [Link to first blog] Since then, a lot has happened in the digital world. That blog post had dealt with my then recent introduction to the Apple iPhone 3GS and how to operate the accessibility features. Since my post, Apple have launched the iPhone 4 (with iOS4) and the iPad, both of which have increased and improved accessibility features. See: https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/iaccessibility/

The iPad has been a real game changer. Unimagined (in its eventual form) in January 2010, it’s difficult now to imagine how such a tool had never previously existed. It is in no way a laptop replacement and cannot cope with some of the tasks [See earlier iPad post] even a netbook could cope with – yet it is becoming an increasingly important actor on the educational stage. This site by Ian Wilson is worth a look if you’re interested in learning more about the iPad in Education: http://www.ipadineducation.co.uk/iPad_in_Education/Welcome.html.

As the financial crisis continues to bite, many trusted and familiar Web 2.0 provisions have begun to teeter. For example, NING, the D.I.Y. social networking site, following years of adequate free provision started to charge at the end of summer 2010. I’m certain that this wasn’t a problem for too many educators but it was a harbinger of things to come. By December Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia was appealing for cash on every one of Wikipedia’s information pages.  Delicious was also under threat from its owner Yahoo! [See news of this] and although there was a form of retraction; the writing is still on the wall – even for this hugely popular and widely used site.

If we take the time to read figures, many such giants of the Web 2.0 world are feeling the pinch. Even Flickr, another Yahoo! provision, despite having a well supported ‘paid for’ membership, is seeing more competition from mobile-based tools such as Instagram and several other App-based photo sites (which will in time come under threat themselves).

Some people say that even Twitter will die – [See James Clay’s blog]

None of this is a bad thing, unless we invest time, effort and/or money into individual sites and provisions. I hope to expand upon this in a future post. Maybe I’ll title that ‘stick to basics’?

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope the financial crisis (caused by reckless banking) does not strike you too hard and that your wishes all come true. 🙂