As published in The Jakarta Post
Sun, May 2 2010
Keep your friends up to date on your whereabouts, get rewarded for becoming the most frequent visitor to preferred sites, get badges and even become a “mayor”. Foursquare — half game, half social networking — is handy and fun at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong: This is not a ballgame played with four people on a square court, it’s a social networking game that can be accessed via your mobile phone and or PC.
Claiming more than 500,000 members, foursquare.com has become a new trend, offering visitors a lot of “things to do”. Often abbreviated as “4sq”, Foursquare was created on March 11, 2009 by Dennis Crowley who was the owner of SWSX Interactive Festival and also one of the developers of dodgeball.com.
4sq is best played on iPhone, Android, Palm or BlackBerry. It begins with users revealing their whereabouts to friends by “checking in” at certain venues. For each visit to these places, users are rewarded points that they can use to unlock badges.
For iPhone users there’s an advanced version of the 4sq application that allows users to transfer contacts from their address book, indicate locations with GPS, and integrate with other applications on the phone.
If your don’t have one of these gadgets, you can still play 4sq on your conventional mobile phone by visiting foursquare.com/mobile.
Before enjoying the fun, don’t forget to sign up and add your photo and data, and of course, invite some friends and people in your local area. The information on your friends will be useful in heavily populated areas like Jakarta.
You can search for friends from Facebook, Gmail, Google Apps and Twitter. It is best to add only people you socialize with in real life, otherwise it may seem weird if you want to know where acquaintances are without truly being familiar with them.
4sq helps people decide what to do after work or school on a Saturday or day off. At the same, this application allows its users to know where their friends are going, what they’re doing and where they will likely be in an hour’s time.
Getting started using 4sq on your mobile, you may identify numerous local places to check in. If the place you’re going to check in isn’t listed yet, you can add the venue to the list. You will likely be crowned “Mayor” of the new venue if you checked into the venue more times than anyone else (which must be on separate days) and you will need to include a profile picture.
You’ll continue to be Mayor until someone else replaces you, beating the number of times you have checked into the place.
Points are awarded to anyone making the first visit or trying a new place. There are also tons of badges to collect when you catch up with 4sq users or go to the same venue as friends. These badges include Newbie, Explorer, Superstar, Far Far Away, Gym Rat, Douchebag and even Supermayor.
You can also post these on Facebook or Twitter automatically when you check in.
Once you are a Super User, you are granted permission to edit and change details of venues, and delete inappropriate or duplicate venues.
On the 4sq website you can type up a “To Do” list for personal use and gain extra points by doing these things. Don’t forget to add “Tips” to any venues you have visited so that other users can read and learn about what’s good or bad about them.
Foursquare offers a fun alternative amid the large variety of social networking sites available. It turns places into a game while interacting with friends. People will also get ideas about places from other users. It’s too bad this is just a game and we can’t get real freebies for being a frequent visitor to these places.