Foursquare:

Do you ever just wonder why anybody got started updating their Foursquare account?

What’s it for, anyway? Is is just for attention for an already vocal and sociable generation?

Why take the time and trouble to post on Foursquare?

This is something I wondered about a great deal when Mashable predicted around December 2009 that it will be the biggest social media application of 2010. South by Southwest announced it as the up and coming wonder social media service as early as the spring of 2009, and now, after so many months, it just seems inevitable. Geolocation and status updates were the match made in heaven (or hell, depending on your perspective) that was bound to happen. Because it could.

But I wasn’t clear about why.

The Chicken:

Was this was service created initially because it was following the technology (“Look what we can do, Ma!!”)?  Or was it the result of looking at how people communicate and how this new technology can enhance life on this little planet we like to call Earth. This is a huge distinction with up and coming technologies.

Are we into it because it’s new or because it does something uniquely good?

Here’s where it gets really interesting for me:

In all candor, the first reason I became enamored with Foursquare is because early adopters are rewarded in Social Media.  It’s true.  And very quantifiable.  If you were an early adopter on Twitter you have lots and lots of friends on there, unless you’ve been very selective about whom you “friend,” you’ve got a ton and didn’t have to do that much to make it happen.  People came to you.

I got on Foursquare so that I could be one of “those” people on there.  and I was willing to play as long as it was fun. And it was!! It’s been more fun vying for the position of mayor for humble places like my local grocery store, bank, and gas station.  Did it mean anything? Not really, but it was fun to jockey for who could make the most legitimate check ins for any given destination. It still is, sometimes, as more and more people have come to share the medium.

That’s where it gets interesting!

The Egg:

Tonight my daughter and I are spending the night at our dear friends Brandon and Gilli’s mountain house.  We’ve had a lovely time with them and their wonderful family, but had no idea we’d be seeing each other this evening.  We each live in different cities and had no idea we were visiting the very same town in the mountains.  Until Foursquare entered the picture.

As my daughter and I sat down to have some surprisingly delicious pizza at a Mellow Mushroom, I checked into Foursquare with a remark about the garlic.  Love it!!  Had the “Philosopher’s Pie,” at my daughter’s request, instead of the white pizza, which overflows with the pungent, woody goodness of garlic.

A few moments later Brandon texted me wanting to know if my daughter and I were really in this small mountain town hundreds of miles away from home!  We communicated and ended up getting to meet their family and spend the night at their charming mountain home.

This lovely set of circumstances would have never occurred if it weren’t for Foursquare.  I put out the status and he happened to read it and realize that we were within a few hundred yards of one another.

Serendipity.

Social Media in action.

So here’s the question of the day:

Which came first?!  The Foursquare chicken or the egg? Is it OK to get all wrapped up in a new social media application because the technology’s cool, even though there isn’t much discernable value that’s manifested just yet? Or is chasing technologies with little useful purpose just a waste of time?

What are your experiences with emerging technologies that don’t seem to have a defined benefit just yet, but look interesting?  Do you wait it out until something becomes clear? Or do you just plunge right on in and then sometimes wonder why you did so later?

It’s late, and I won’t ever win any prizes with this writing tonight. 🙂 But I know I’m asking important questions.  Even though Foursquare might have started as a pure “look what we can do!” kind of technology, has it earned the right to be called useful and cool? How would you rate my serendipitous experience this evening of meeting up with dear friends from another city almost on accident?

Please scroll down to the comments box and tell me what you think about Foursquare, where it started, and where it’s going.  Thank you!!

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Lori