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FourSquare is pants
2010-06-13: They say Foursquare is the next big thing and in principle, they are probably right. Basically, it's a geography driven interactive space where people can leave notes for others who arrive at the same location later.
I think it's got people's attention because it's clearly usable by businesses wanting people to leave messages to future others about buying, for instance, expensive menu items. In other words, it seems easily spammable by those into using social media for gain and where business sees gain it pours resources, so Foursquare rises on that.
I really want it to be great. Wouldn't it be good to be able to see where your friends are of an evening?
But it plain doesn't work. It doesn't work so very badly that I'm amazed anyone's talking about it at all.
Foursquare says 'find people, places, tags [search]' so I enter 'Scarborough' and it says 0 venues, 0 tips, 25 people, 0 tags. Sorry no results found. You're near Salisbury.
For those who don't know, Salisbury is about 400 miles away. The Salisbury it thinks I'm near is in Canada. That's a few thousand miles away. It didn't ask me. I have to click on it before it asks where I am and I can set it to Scarborough UK. OK. For a geographic system, wouldn't it be nice if it either guessed right or asked that most crucial bit of information. Are you in Salisbury? No, I'm in Scarborough, but I forgive you. Fabulous.
So now we are over that, there are 16 locations on FourSquare. For a town of 60,000 people, 16 locations and 3 tips isn't going to turn anyone's business around.
It's a serious issue. Now the Web 2.0 revolution has happened and there are multitudinous ways for people to contribute to the Internet, to share their lives and make everything better for everyone, it turns out no-one can be arsed barring a few people who would probably rather be in the future than their present.
Following the latest thing is all right, but as a marketer, I need to be where the mass of people are. For now, that's Facebook and to a lesser extent Twitter. I wish FourSquare well. Might even play with it myself.
Update: I went to the Woodend Creative Workspace to see Jehan for Open Studios and that wasn't a location on FourSquare so I added it. Got that? Scarborough, most enterprising town in Europe, with a university department pouring out maybe thirty Internet graduates every year .. the place designed for them to work in .. no-one there had registered that location (I'm criticising FourSquare, not you guys).
There was no FourSquare client for my phone. That despite me not being awkward with my choice of phone: it's Windows Mobile, a mainstream phone acquired so I could run someone else's software.
Then I went to the Golden Ball pub on the harbour, and I checked in on Foursquare Mobile. Earlier for Woodend on my desktop it wanted their postcode, address, phone number. For the Golden Ball it just accepted my checkin. I thought it was being clever, knowing that on a mobile it's harder to get such data.
When I got home, it had checked me in at the Golden Ball, York. Unless I had a jetpack, for a geographically based site, I'd have thought it might know there was no way for me to get from Woodend to a pub in York in such a short time. Anyway, that was wrong, so I deleted it.
Now FourSquare is showing I've been nowhere and done nothing.
This is a screamer for task analysis. Either that or the application of common sense. I mean, come on guys if this is meant to be the future, software that doesn't work 100% of the time, we seriously need to talk.

By John Allsopp
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