Steve Woods

Why Twitter’s Gonna Eat FourSquare’s Lunch

In Social Media on November 20, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Will FourSquare be the Next Twitter? Will it? Will it?

Has some version of this cluttered up your Twitter stream lately?

Pete Cashmore, Social Media Maven, founder and CEO of @Mashable, and new blogger at CNN.com, wrote a very interesting article recently.  In it he carefully makes the case for FourSquare as possibly the next big thing in Social Media since Twitter.  I heard of FourSquare a long time ago, but thought I was too cool for things like Twitter back then, and never considered giving it a shot.

I’ve read through the article twice now, was a bit intrigued, and before hitting the road yesterday after work, tried to download the application for my iPhone.

I can’t. Well, that’s not entirely true.  I can download the app if I want to, but I’d have to lie about where I live, in order to finish signing in, and to participate in the game.  You see, there’s a very limited drop-down menu of what I am sure are exciting cities to live in. I just don’t live in one of them.  Or even near one of them.

Not really a menu, but it sure felt that way... :0(

Oh, I am sure that Amsterdam has a lot of great cafes I could sip a nice latté in.  I have no doubt I could find a banging nightclub in Bangkok, and could bust a move until people laughed at me in unison.  I hear that Dubai is pretty hot these days (no pun intended.) Hell, I’d even down shots with the cool people in Hong Kong if I could…

FourSquare is Limited in Geographical Scope, Guys

I just wanted to play too...

So there I was, sitting in my now idling car, with a new download that I’ll eventually delete from my iPhone before the next sync.  Why couldn’t I just find and add my little city, or even one of the small-to-medium ones a short drive away?  How about that nice Cajun restaurant/nightclub 25 miles away, where I am sure I’ll never run into one of Mashable’s tech-savvy folks?  Thanks, Pete...

Out of a possible 10,016 big and little cities in the United States alone, FourSquare works with 48 of them (I am assuming when they listed Rome, they didn’t mean Rome, N.Y…..)  So 1/2 of 1% U.S. coverage by an Internet-based application meant to bring people together in fellowship. Wow.  I’d help spread that further, but I can’t, because FourSquare won’t let me

Is FourSquare’s Concept Unique?

On the drive home, I thought about what a great concept FourSquare was.  Then I realized I wasn’t thinking about FourSquare at all anymore.  I was thinking about the Concept.  Were there other applications that exceeded the 0.5% reach already, and could be used in the same way that FourSquare bills itself?

Read Pete’s article all the way through.  He’s a brilliant guy, and I have to give him credit where due, because he alludes to the precarious position that FourSquare holds as possible contender for next year’s Social Media Superstar….

Twitter’s Users Already Use the Concept of FourSquare

Meet @RadarDog. He's laughing at you.

For most of us, when we log off and head out the door, we don’t tend to include in the trip or where we go the people we met on Twitter.  But I have seen on Twitter more signs of Tweet-ups, or groups of Twitter friends/followers from one area or city, meeting up and enjoying each other’s company.  And by the way, Twitter is everywhere.  Even dogs have twitter accounts, guys.  Betcha they tweetup and hookup all the time now because of it.  They’re laughing at you FourSquare lovers with your fancy, opposing thumbs.

Geolocation is King

Geolocation is a big word for “Where you are, right now.”  This sort of information is typically hidden from those people we know in Social Media, because the concept sounds too much like we are inviting everyone to follow us home at night.   When we do allow an application to turn this on, it can find us based on our computer’s IP (Internet Protocol) Address, or using the GPS emitter on our phone.  And it’s pretty darn accurate.

The use of Geolocation information has been recently made available by Twitter to third-party applications.  So expect applications like Tweetdeck, Seesmic, Twitpic, and others soon to ask you if you want to share this.  If you say yes, when you send out tweets or photos, people will know from a marker on a map exactly where you are.  In other words, Twitter just shot a big hole in FourSquare’s boat…  Didn’t that sound cool? Makes me sound all Social Media Maven-ish.

Fun is Queen

Queen. Ha. I’m running with the whole card concept… Pete’s article refers to FourSquare as “highly addictive gameplay” and I am sure it is, if you live in a city that is cooler than mine.  And go out often. And go to the same places over and over.  How about trying out that Thai place for once, before your girlfriend dumps you…

Yes, they will find you in all languages...

Social Media games are growing rapidly, both in MySpace, FaceBook and Twitter.  We all see the automated status updates, tweets and even Direct Messages from those we follow, slipping in because they think others want to know if they killed someone in Mafia Wars or baked a pizza in Cafe World. Those that fail to turn off the clutter play with us a Social Media equivalent of Whack-a-Mole.  DM. Block. Tweet. Block. Status Update. Block.

There goes the horn. Work day's over. Sorry, guys!

In order to move up in FourSquare, you have to work at it.  You need to frequent your favorite places often, checking in to them using your phone’s app.  Sort of like the alcoholic equivalent of the Looney Tunes Wolf and Sheepdog. You gain points for showing up, for leaving your two cents about the place, and for bringing others with you (who you talked into having the app on their phones, too.)  The more points you receive, the more pretty badges you get, on display for all to see.  And you get to tweet those earned badges out to everyone.  Tweet. Block.  That’s right, during my silence perhaps you can create some paper equivalents of those badges in bright colors to actually wear around your very cool city…

The Benefits of Being Mayor

Play FourSquare loyally, and you move up through the chain established at a particular joint, becoming quite the authority on it.  People might recognize your face and say hello when they show up.  The love abounds. Visit more than anyone else, and you can become “Mayor,” receiving free drinks, entrees and sexual favors. I made up that last one.

Twitter Tweetups, Anywhere

Note the first one. Another dog Tweetup!

Okay, in Twitter you don’t get any badges, earn any points, and don’t get to be Mayor, Councilman, President or Prime Minister of anything.  Unless you already are one of those in real life, or are pretending to be.  But you can schedule and attend those Tweet-ups I mentioned earlier, letting trusted friends know via DM where you’re going, and inviting them.  And with the new Geolocation feature, you can use an iPhone app that tells them exactly how to get there.  And you know what? You can do this anywhere in the World with Internet access and your phone.  Even in my small town, or the one next door we all like to laugh at, because they don’t even have a McDonald’s yet…  That’s right, we are laughing at you again.

Twitter Will Eat FourSquare’s Lunch. Pete and I will go have Sushi

Pete and I takin' off for Bangkok. Tweetup, anyone?

I know I’m not a Social Media Superstar, like Pete Cashmore.  He’s worked hard to achieve that status, and he deserves it.  I love reading the very cool articles his team finds and tweets out.  He writes great pieces himself.  And I am sure he would be a lot of fun on that dance floor in Bangkok. I’m willing to go next time you want to take me…

I think Twitter has incorporated many of the best features of FourSquare, and we tweeters will make it fun on our own.  It will grow on its own, be supported by Twitter’s great team, and 3rd party apps will figure out ways to capitalize on Twitter’s API to support Tweetups.  Businesses will use our exposed Geolocations (Exposed Geolocations. Ha.) to find us nearby and offer up coupons or savings to entice us into their stores or restaurants.  And we’ll do it in the little backwoods corners of the Earth, without those stinkin’ badges.

Just stop following me home already, okay?  It’s really creeping me out…

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AFTERTHOUGHT: I was contacted today by the makers of an application called Flook, which allows its users to create “cards” about a location anywhere they have an Internet connection, simply by taking a photo with their iPhone and providing a commentary.  This can be then tweeted out.  When another person gets near a “Flooked” location, they are alerted, and can see all of the previous “cards” made about it by others.  They can flip through the cards to learn more, or comment back…

What it Means to be a Man

In What Day is it? on November 19, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Although there have been calls for such a day since the 1960’s, Trinidad and Tobago were finally able to pull together the creation of this day in 1999.   International Men’s Day has slowly grown from humble beginnings, to a worldwide celebration of the male gender and his role in Society.  Organizers, including founder Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh, want to ensure that participants know that this day is not meant to compete with International Women’s Day (March 8th,) but rather to provide a day to remember and thank men for their many contributions.

The Objectives of IMD

International Men’s Day events are held in nations all over our planet, and typically include public displays, educational seminars and classroom activities, publicly broadcasted television and radio programs, religious observances, and peaceful marches. The organizers of IMD have agreed that the following broad objectives should be covered when holding an event related to IMD:

  1. The celebration of manhood as seen in the historically valuable and positive contributions that men of all ages have made to both local communities and Society in general.
  2. The promotion of equality among the genders, encouraging men to stand up and face head-on, responsibly and positively, the challenges faced by all in society.
  3. The demonstration of character and courage in continuing to meet those challenges that Society faces each and every day, to ensure we can all meet our full potential.
  4. The highlighting of positive male role models.  This means not just movie stars or sports figures, but also working class men leading decent, honest lives.

The Year of the Positive Male Role Model

What type of man do we hold in esteem?

In previous years, International Men’s Day has discussed issues relating to men’s health, gender relations, and gender equality.  Celebrating a different aspect of men’s lives each year, 2009 has been named the Year of the Positive Male Role Model.

Who would you consider to be (or to have been) a positive male role model in your own life?  Was it your father? Step-father? Grandfather? Uncle? Older brother or friend? Pastor or Rabbi? A boss? Someone famous?  Every single one of these men had to define for themselves what it meant to be a man, and in some way their definition has influenced your own…

So What Does it Mean to be a Man?

To be a man is to live in a dichotomy.  We are granted incredible freedom in defining ourselves, while living under the invisible pressure of conformity as provided by our fellow Man.  The layers of pressure come from greater Society’s agreed-upon and often capricious definitions of our gender, our larger family’s definitions, and our faith’s often-stringent refining.  We have layered upon us the invisible garments provided by our home, our community, and even our Nation.

So Many Choices when Defining Ourselves…

Oscar Wilde, Irish Playwright, Poet and Author, 1882

Historically the definition of acceptable manhood has changed, and continues to morph over time.  We have moved from wholesale acceptance of brute force and strength of will as desirable defining characteristics to a more intellectual approach to matters of life.  This is not to say Manhood has softened.  Let’s just say that we Men have learned to take the clay from those that used to mold our roles, and have begun to choose for ourselves who (or what) we lend our malleability to…

In free nations like America, where homogeneity of thought was dispensed with as soon as our ancestors began stepping on our shores, we accept many other possible definitions for what it means to be a Man.  And it is our free responsibility to examine with careful scrutiny the many layers put on us, that we carry in our daily lives.  To what purpose do they serve us, and are we prepared to maintain them, passing them down to our sons?  What changes do we make in defining ourselves, and how quickly do we embrace such changes?

So What do I Think?

We define our roles as men, and as fathers

Here’s my spin: To be a man is to be responsible for ourselves, even in areas where we have little control over our lives or destinies.  We must be strong supporters of our friends and family, even when it means providing needed criticism. We are to seek passionate, loving and respectful relationships with our significant others.  We are to be aware of our surroundings and must strive to improve upon them.  We must endeavor to mold our environment to allow for honesty.  We must be willing to both swing the hammer and open our fists.  We must listen, try to understand, sacrifice and compromise.

Outside of this, Dude, you are on your own. You figure out the rest.

So What do we Hand Down to Our Children?

In many countries, International Men’s Day (or IMD) is celebrated in tandem with Universal Children’s Day on Nov. 20th, to bring together the importance of the special bond between men and his children.  It’s one thing to carry the burdens handed to us by our fathers (and their fathers.)  It’s another thing entirely to sit and examine what we will leave behind and place on the shoulders of our sons.

Our sons are watching us...

One of the reasons the cultural definition of Manhood has changed so drastically over the last 40 years is the renewed, shared, sense of self-determination.  Our fathers grew up with the belief that we competed against each other to get ahead, sometimes learning painful cut-throat lessons.  Some of them, now retired, watch in abject confusion as we discuss collaborative work models, as we come together in common cause, move on to regroup with others, then move on again…

Men have to teach, more than any other skill, the ability to work with and get along with others.  Men must remind their sons that they do not have to define themselves through the personal victory, but through the sharing of a common win.  We must teach them to adapt in a World that changes faster than any other our forefathers have ever known.

So be Responsible for How You (and Men) are Viewed

Hang up the definitions no longer needed

Whether in the news, movies, or in literature, there exists ample fictional and non-fictional examples of men, young and old, exhibiting negative behavior.  This includes criminal activities, violence against others, or simply delinquency.  The supporters of International Men’s Day work diligently to provide a forum to respond to these negative portrayals, reminding the World that there are many more examples of decency and scions of character among us.

Help all of us out by examining those invisible garments you wear each day, and hanging up the ones that are no longer needed to protect you from an increasingly open World.  Rediscover for yourself what it means to be a man, and then contact me to help me out, too…

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How to Retweet, Old-School

In Social Media on November 18, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Was NOT looking forward to this invitation...

I received the beta invitation (or warning) for the new Retweet feature at Twitter yesterday.  Igotta say, it’s one “improvement” that I had not been looking forward to, and I’ll likely work diligently around it for awhile.  I’ve been using the “Old School” retweet method of forwarding those nuggets of information I like to my followers, and it works just fine for me.

Negative sentiment on RT abounds

I know I’m not alone in my sentiment. There are a number of people on Twitter who’ve voiced their disappointment with this untweaking of a valuable communication tool that already works when done properly.  A few of them are pretty heavy hitters in the Social Media world, who have tens or hundreds of thousands of followers and have happily helped Twitter in its growth by providing interesting commentary and multimedia.  They ought to be listened to…

This morning, I came across a comment on Twitter from someone I follow, stating that she was often confused by retweets, trying to figure out who had made the original comment, and what was added by the retweeter.  I realized that if many of us are banding together to push Twitter to unhinge and remove the new feature (or improve it quickly,) we need to ensure others know how to properly retweet, Old School style.

“Old School” Retweet Methods

There are a number of methods people use to retweet information on Twitter, and not all of them are easy to parse.  So I thought I would share a few techniques I have witnesses, and demonstrate what I believe is best.

The Special Character Separator – This form of RT simply resends the message, but places a /, ~,::: or other special character or set at the end followed by the commentary by the retweeter.  Works well for most if you have it obvious, but sometimes the chosen separator doesn’t hit everyone over the head equally.

Use of special character to separate the information

Use of arrows to "point" your comment at the original tweet

The @Sender Put at the End – This form of RT places the @sender name at the end of the commentary, often in parentheses, and sometimes with the word “via”.  Commentary is normally placed after the parentheses.  This format is often constructed by mobile phone apps like Tweetie. The parenthetical separation is typically good enough for people to get who said what.  The person below, however, seems to have sandwiched the RT by commentary before and after…

Putting the (via @sender in parentheses) technique

The Pre-Comment This is my favorite, and I’ll explain why.  In this type of retweet, it kind of feels at first NOT like a retweet, because it doesn’t start out with RT at all. The commentary by the retweeter comes first, drawing more readers in, because it doesn’t feel addressed to anyone in particular.  Then the RT follows the comment, and we can sort of reverse-engineer the conversation.  Here’s an example…

Comment back is placed in front of the RT'd message

You get the commentary first, which seems interesting in itself, and then see that it is a retweet to @Alyssa_Milano  The RT letter set is enough of a visual cue to see the separation between the comments.  Alyssa will see all of the retweets she gets on her messages because like any good user, she is checking her @Mentions often.

The Pre-Comment method is elegant, interesting and if followed by everyone consistently, would be a model for Twitter to use when reworking that new feature I am so diligently ignoring…

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