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All posts tagged Foursquare

Startups By Their Nature Are On The Cutting Edge…

… Some get acquired and in my previous post I mentioned Waze and their acquisition by Google. I suggested that Google could leverage drone technology to enhance the real-time geo-data provided by Waze.

This led to a fascinating conversation on Twitter with one of my favorite tweeps
@AWSOMEDEVSIGNER on the controversy and challenges related to drone usage in the civilian domain.


Real World Tech, Real World Consequences

When people create new technologies or find new uses for existing tech, especially in our daily lives in the real world there is a question that has to be asked,

What are the ramifications of releasing our idea into the world unfettered?

In a lot of cases the legislature is not able to keep up with the need for new laws to address these issues. Google Glass is a classic example, should it be legal to drive whilst wearing and using Glass? Should the law require all wearable technology that requires user interaction (read distraction) to have a Driving Mode?

In the case of Glass a user in California was already issued with a ticket for driving whilst wearing Glass (the ticket was allegedly contested and thrown out on a technicality) meanwhile, NYPD are beta testing Glass , but under what constraints and conditions?

A hat tip to the awesome @OrenTodoros for directing me to Google’s Do’s and Don’ts for Glass.

In some cases just how easily can certain innovations be weaponized or used for malicious intent? Foursquare had to contend with privacy and stalking concerns and seems to have done so admirably.

You don’t have to look hard to see that cutting edge technology will always be ahead of legislation. Several TV shows have made the issue of technology and ethics a core part off their story e.g. Intelligence or Almost Human.

Intelligence - Startup Ethics
Almost Human - Startup Ethics

With thanks to IMDB for the images for each show above.

The Warptest POV

Do the Startups have a moral responsibility to consider the ramifications of their innovations before opening Pandora’s Box? Will a failure to do so eventually result in more draconian legislation in reaction? As a result of my conversations (as mentioned earlier) IMHO Startups should be considering then need for a senior member of the company, even a VP of Ethics to research these ramifications and raise concerns early in the design stages.

By working with the Product Manager, even guiding the Testing team to include tests to ensure not just functional but ethical quality a Startup that is launching a technology into the real world and our daily life is more likely to find best practice and prevent privacy invasions, data leaks, malicious abuses and other ethical problems.

So if you are reading this and you are building a Startup, do you have role in your company to confront the ethics behind your innovation?

Don’t be shy now, let me know what you think.


Location And Foursquare Are Hot News Again…

Just last week Foursquare announced a $15 million investment from Microsoft with the intent of Bing and other services leveraging the incredible added value of Foursquare’s check-in database.

Now we are reading in Recode about Marissa Mayer’s bid for Yahoo to utilize Yelp reviews for similar purposes by licensing their content.

Just to segue momentarily, I began writing this post before these pieces of news came along and forced me to sit and rethink my perception of the subject (but only slightly). That said this resulted in some major rewriting and ummm challenge of having predictions proven right before I could finish and post the darn thing.

So What?

Looking at the post on Foursquare’s blog announcing the news there are some key pieces of information to be digested:

“…60,000,000 entries and 5,000,000,000 check-ins” is an incredible measure of success and the Microsoft investment speaks volumes about how the data behind all these check-ins will contribute to Windows and Windows Phone apps and services.

I’ve postulated in the past that Foursquare is the source of consumer behavioral / business intelligence just waiting to be analyzed but putting that aside for a moment the key phrase in Foursquare’s blog post announcing Microsoft’s investment is “contextually aware experiences”.

What does context mean in terms of information and content from applications like Yelp and Foursquare?

Yelp - logo - foursquareFoursquare - logo

Context, context, context!

So, what does context mean with regard to location and check-ins?

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We can classify check-ins according to: –

  • Location Name.
  • Type.
  • Expected Activity.
  • Expected Duration (a function of Expected Activity).
  • Habitual (or not).
  • Recommendation: explicit when a user adds a strong comment, implicit when they are a frequent or habitual check-in or the Mayor in Foursquare’s case.

Does context simply mean this or is there another layer of data and usage just waiting for Yahoo or Microsoft to take advantage of?

The Warptest POV

Referring back to my segue about having to rewrite this post, I was hurriedly finishing up my post when a post in Twitter on my split screen caught my eye on the Verge about Project Cortana on Windows Phone using Foursquare. The phrase I was writing before I read this post was that “contextually aware services will evolve the Smartphone into the Intelligent Phone” at this point though I decided to pour myself a single malt and not get frustrated at being beaten to the punch three times on one post.

Whether the rumor of the voice activated, interactive Cortana “AI” is correct or not, the evolution of Location and Check-Ins is here. Whether Microsoft and Yahoo attack this in the same direction or not we’ll have to wait and see.

IMHO “contextually aware services” should be aiming for these kind of cases. If I check-in at a coffee-shop then unless I habitually take meetings there (and share that) the expectation is I’ll be there for coffee and maybe a bite to eat; especially if this the coffee shop I use en route to my “I’m at work” check-in. In a nutshell, context should allow us to realize how long based on location someone is expected to be there before they actually check-out.

Context also needs to offer greater monetization opportunities: If I check-in every day at the start of my run and mention a brand of running shoe (or even if I don’t) then a smart sports store nearby could follow me, extrapolate based on average run time / distance the wear on my shoes and after several months offer me a discount coupon for a new pair of running shoes.

notification - foursquaree-coupons - foursquare

Even simpler is the idea of e-coupons for whatever retail outlet you check-in: the moment a habitual (read loyal) customer checks-in the e-coupons should appear in a notification.

This is the “evolution of
the Smartphone into the Intelligent Phone”. Having Cortana deliver this to me intuitively and automatically will make it so.

At the end of the day winning in Locational Social Mobile will not just depend on which data provider the content discovery and services build on but on the added value they offer as a result. A big question is but how will Yahoo compete on Mobile Services and Apps not just in browser search?

Are you ready to check-in?

Job Hunting Can Require Some Creative Thinking…

… If you decide to forego the shotgun approach of blindly applying for jobs then a targeted approach may need actionable intelligence.

targetted job hunting - crosshairs

You’ve decided what fields / job positions / titles you are searching for and you have defined the geographical catchment area probably based on just how much you are able or willing to commute but some companies decide to make it difficult for you and conceal their address on the job application or even on their website.

What do you do?

Many of us try the following checklist: –

job hunting - checklist address search

This approach is laborious and since most of the searchable information is garnered from the company itself, if they have opted to leave their local address off the website you will probably strike out.

At this point do you apply anyway or just keep job hunting? Has this compromised your targeted approach?

The Warptest POV

Recently I was contacted by a friend with a list of several companies like this and asked if I had any idea how to find their location.

I started suggesting similar steps listed above but then the word “location” gave me an idea… Foursquare

As Foursquare is possibly the largest locational database of retail and commercial locations it’s reasonable to try searching here first when job hunting:

Foursquare - job hunting

After testing this I confirmed that the popularity and gamification behind Foursquare encouraged company employees to check-in at each of these companies. Getting the addresses via Foursquare was a piece of cake.

So if you are searching for company addresses whilst job hunting then Foursquare should be your first stop.

Disclaimer: companies have many different reasons for opting out of posting their address online. Act responsibly and respect that. Use the information you discover but you don’t need to spread it far and wide.

Good (job) hunting!

Is it just me or…?

Has Foursquare been awfully quiet lately? Not just Foursquare but the other contenders in the Location based market seem to have faded into the background. Is this because Locational Services have evolved as far as they can go? Sometimes silence indicates that something big is coming.




Clipart courtesy of Microsoft Word ClipArt.


I was visiting Manchester, UK to see family and escape the August heat in Israel. I spent every morning in the local Costa Coffee ensuring I started the day suitably caffeinated (day trips with the kids make this a must). Most places in the UK now use smart chipped credit cards and when I renewed my Visa last year I made sure to get a chipped card. Basically you “dip” the card into a reader and enter your PIN number.

All this was pretty cool but it got me thinking…

Warptest Speculation for 2012/13

Given the rise in consumer adoption of Smartphones and the drive for the phone as a wallet. I believe we are going to see a convergence of eWallet and Locational Services.

A check-in to a Store, Coffee shop , Restaurant or even your local Costco is the precursor to your shopping in that location.

Lest we forget Locational Services contain excellent Business Intelligence all about our habits and behavior.

Even as a basic validation of your payment processor: that you couldn’t possibly be using your Credit card to physically purchase in two locations simultaneously or too far away to have reached within the time between purchases is a sound feature.

So the Warptest prediction is that Facebook, already with a money/ account feature will tie this to Facebook location check-ins and perhaps Foursquare will head in the following direction(s): –

1. A strategic alliance with VISA, American Express or Mastercard where your Locational Check-in via Smartphone allows you to receive targeted real-time offers, virtual coupons and a Check-out handshake at the cashier’s till to pay for items your phone scanned as you shopped.

2. Foursquare offers a pay for use API for real world stores who wish to adopt a Locational Pay model where your Supermarket Chain tracks your Check-Ins, sends reminders that you haven’t checked in for your weekly shop, analyzes your purchases to create an on-the-fly shopping list and provides In Store location updates for your favorite purchases when they are moved from Aisle 3 to Aisle 5.


Nokia Lumia 920 image from

Of course, this should drag several secondary services such as enhanced Smartphone security kicking and screaming into 2012.

Can you see yourself using a service like this?


Technorati Tags: ,Locational Services,,
Seirra Madre - Badges

Geo-web version 1.0: if you asked me how I perceive the cluster of geo or Location Based Social web applications  around today, that would probably be my answer.

gowalla 4sq

These are truly Web 2.0 applications and mobile or smart phone enabled at that. After all what’s the point of sending the same location form your desktop PC?

These applications are 1st generation to me, why? Well let’s glance at what they do: –

  • Checking In – this is the term describing the process of sharing your location.
  • Social – again the collaborative element but also coupled to..
  • Competitive – the process of earning badges of achievement or status/ ranking based on overall frequency of check-ins and frequency per location.
  • Contribution – the user is able to add to the overall geo-database with new locations.
  • Proximity – this again ties back to the Social Element: when you see a friend has just checked in at a nearby coffee shop etc you may decide to call them or simply surprise them.
  • Implicit Advertising  platform – each check-in that relates to a given store, coffee shop, restaurant is de facto an ad and the frequency of check-ins and or competition over mayorship of the location boosts the online profile of the location.

So, what’s next? Or more appropriately what should these platforms be doing to give us added value beyond badges, coupons and collaboration?

I know the video seems kind of harsh and actually I like the badges thing but my question remains: added value?

Location in a social networking platform should be about two things relevance  and context.

  1. Relevance: who is my location relevant to?
  2. Context: what aspects of my location make it relevant to me or others in my network?

In a relevant, contextual framework if I connect my Twitter / Facebook, Blog etc to Locations these simply shouldn’t be an outlet for my check-ins or changes in ranking. The Locational application should index and retrieve data that I post in these to create an extensive profile of me and those included in my network.

If for example in my Facebook profile I describe myself as Jewish and Religious then obviously I am only interested in Kosher restaurants; If I tweet for example about being lactose intolerant then I’m not really interested in Dairy restaurants.

Now this isn’t a hard and fast rule but the ability to glean information from external networks that a Locational application is connected to provides context. Which further allows the application to rank or filter the information on a by user basis.

An example of relevance is that I may check-in at a new location for me such as “I have just landed at Newark Airport, NJ” and one of my network happens to be mayor there. The Locational application would suggest based on relevance that they are the user with the most extensive knowledge and familiarity of the location.

Beyond this perhaps at conferences and the like the Locational application would utilize Augmented Reality to display user IDs over the head of people in my network as they check-in.

A final thought, I spoke about added value and all these ideas are nice but remember this each check-in is another point of information adding to an ever growing geographical database.

I for one would love to see a coverage map displaying the world and which parts of the world, countries and cities are and are not within the geo-database and the volume of users for each location.