Why I Checked Out of #Foursquare


Last night I watched a live announcement from Facebook about what Foursquare had already done. Once the keynote presentation ended I watched Gowalla go up as the first partner and was sort of relieved. I had never used them because again I thought they were a blatent rip off of Foursquare. (For the record I think the design of Gowalla is gaudy and smudgy.) I felt Gowalla would sell me out data wise if the opportunity presented their company to advance up the social geo chain. But next up was Foursquare and while I didn’t feel the gut reaction, I realized that I would never use the service the same way again.

As a designer I feel that it is really important to understand how communication works these days. I think it would be irresponsible to give a client advice not knowing what is available and what advantages there are to using particular streams. So I try a lot of different services to figure out what advantages they hold. Last night watching the Facebook announcement on Ustream allowed me to consider a couple things. If I wasn’t going to check in the same way again, how could I learn from it? At first I thought why not just check in though what Foursquare considers as shouts. Instead of mentioning where I was I’d just type in the zip code of where I was. I could still use that info for my own reasons and Facebook would never be able to figure out my trending data. So I tried that this morning and realized that was a pretty dumb idea. It was pretty pointless and a waste of my energy. So I decided to just delete my account.

There were a couple other reasons, Facebook Places was the last 20%. 1. I don’t think Foursquare should have an open API. I’m pretty sure anyone that has checked in has not considered what http://www.assistedserendipity.com/ can do with that info. 2. I also think that there has been plenty of time to make Foursquare links valuable. There is zero value in clicking on a link of someone I know that has checked in to somewhere and has mentioned it on Twitter. 3. I felt creepy looking at people’s Twitter accounts from people that checked into places I was at. 4. For all the people I was connected to on Foursquare, I think I only asked a couple people to connect to me—everyone else asked me to join. I really didn’t like putting people in the position of saying yes or no to me. 5. I felt if there was a time to quit, this was it. I design products and I wanted to know what the experience would be to quit something. What would hold me back, if anything. I also realize that I could start up again tomorrow if I wanted. Most of the people outside of NYC that I know probably wouldn’t know to follow me again but if someone really wanted to know what I was up to, they would follow me again.

There’s a couple people at Foursquare that I really respect and think very highly of. But with that said my data is open to anyone that can play with the API. On top of that I suspect the closed API from Facebook is just to watch how people use the info before they revise their own service. Maybe I’ll sign up again, and if I don’t maybe I’ll rethink how the data I used to check in could be valuable to myself.

A couple more thoughts 08.20.2010

This tweet sort of sums things up for me “fortheartofit RT @damongarrett: Facebook assumes we want the same networks of people across each of the social media products we use. Um, not quite.

I’m also thinking about how a signed up for one service and now potentially all that data could have been sucked into Facebook. Sure Foursquare already has an open API that anyone can do strange stuff to my data—but with Facebook it becomes sketchier. And like I said in my prior mentions, I might sign up again at some point. I just felt I had a right to do what I wanted with my data before Facebook got their hands on it.

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  • Andy Jacobson

    I also use Foursquare (and other s/n sites) as a way to explore and learn about their benefits/drawbacks so that I can better inform my clients. And I do see better value in Facebook’s “Places” in regard to meeting with friends I wouldn’t mind running into.

    What I never understood about Foursquare was the need to connect with people from outside of NYC, or strangers. It just seemed both weird and a waste of time.

    Hoping “Places” turns out to be a better Foursquare.

  • http://designnotes.info/ michaelsurtees

    You’re right—the other cities thing is another issue that hasn’t really been resolved. I’ve mentioned this example in a different post I think. When a bunch of people went to SXSW last year, I never saw any of them come up. They basically disappeared. People come to NYC all the time so once I see them on the radar it kind of makes sense.

  • http://twitter.com/codemyconcept codemyconcept

    I respect each and every single one of your reasons. To be honest I’m kind of paranoid about such services and I might sound like an old lady but I don’t really understand why would so many people would like to announce their whereabouts to the world.

    I like being a “ninja” sort of speak.