Tag Archives: check-in

How To Stay Secure While Using Social Media

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Is location-based social media an incredibly innovative technology that will garner relationships and bring them to the real world, or a creepy way to help evildoers find out where you are, or where you aren’t? One thing is for sure, this new trend is big business and a lot of money is being thrown at companies that are at the forefront.

SchneiderMike knows a thing or two about this latest trend and where it may be headed. In this interview we cover topics including the hype behind Color, security, and the future of location-based social networking.

Tech Interruption is dedicated to arguing about the tech issues of today and trying to predict the future. They have had some pretty serious heavy-hitting guests on their show in the past and tend to focus on what’s hot at any moment in time – which is why they’re so focused on location-based technology right now.

Mike and I were laughing that BlogWorld was happening in the same building at the same time as a book expo. It’s confusing, eh? Who reads books? Mike quickly jumped in to tell me about a recent conversation with his publisher. He would love to see more communication between readers while they are reading. He’d love to see people put notes and treat it more like a community while reading something on your device of choice. I’m surprised someone like Amazon hasn’t thought of this yet.

There’s a group trying to take textbooks to this level – at least on the iPad – but I don’t know about regular old novels. Anyone can publish and sell a book and anyone can read one. There’s just no glue to hold everyone together. There needs to be something ridiculously awesome in order to pull people together in this way.

So how could location-based services be used around books? It might be interesting to see where people are that are reading the same thing you are. It’s hard to peg down what people want to see and know about others, which is why we’re not seeing anything much in the way of “fast” innovation in this area.

People are giving out so much information about themselves. They throw it out there without realizing the possible ramifications. You have to be completely serious and conscious about who you’re pushing your location to online. The most important thing is you – your family, your life and your safety. Before giving out your location to anyone, ask yourself if it is something you need to do and check to see who it’s going out to. What are they going to do with this information? Is it going to bring any value to yourself or others?

Be sure to check out what Mike and the rest of the Tech Interruption team are up to. They’ve got some fantastic work ethics and a lot of passion.

My, How Foursquare Has Grown

In a world of “gotta join it now” websites cropping up everywhere, we’ve become used to seeing astronomical growth on startup sites. We don’t usually so much as blink an eye when someone reports they’ve had “amazing growth” or “so much traffic the servers went down.” It happens almost every day it seems. I have to admit, though, I DID blink when I read a post over on Foursquare today. The company claims to have grown by 3400% in the past year. That isn’t a typo, nor is it an exaggeration.

I admit it – I’m not a user, nor will I ever be. I just don’t get the point of telling someone where I am at every moment of the day. Do you honestly care when your friends are at the grocery store or gas station? I digress, though… there are plenty of you who DO use the service. As a matter of fact, a whole lot of you are regular checker-in’ers. Foursquare reports that the 6,000,000th user signed up last week.

Are you one of millions who is using the service – or any other checkin site – on a regular basis?

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Facebook Deals Gives You the Goods Before You Check In

New ways to sign in to all your favorite mobile apps wasn’t the only hot news out of Palo Alto today. Mark Zuckerberg’s smile was almost smug as he announced the new Facebook Deals service. Used in conjunction with Places, Deals will give businesses a way to interact with their customers more. Instead of check-ins being a one-way street, Deals will allow the places and spaces to offer something completely different to their target audience.

Facebook is launching Deals with 22 premium partners today. And they’re giving more than 20,000 smaller businesses on Facebook access to their new easy Deal creation tool. The Deals will be nationwide and locale-specific. You can check-in to a place sporting a Deal and immediately share it with your friends… allowing them to take advantage of the same specials.

The hottest part of all is that you don’t even HAVE to physically check in to get the goods. Deals will be able to push out to existing customers before they even get to the store, much like when you get coupons in your email box. These Deals are all about the social element, and you’ll be able to share your Deals easily.

Not only can you receive deals on goods and services, you will also find some very cool new ways to support some of your favorite charities. That, my friends, is the way social should be done. Facebook proved today that they are winning the mobile social war – Google has a LOT of catching up to do.

Pelago Makes the Whrrl Go 'Round

This is a guest post written by Matt Gamboa.

With all of the location-based mobile applications available, it’s hard to find one (and only one) to stick with because they all offer different features. Pelago – a company name derived from word “archipelago,” wants to make its features stick out more with its location-based service called Whrrl.

Like most location-based services and mobile applications, Whrrl tracks a users’ location by check-in. Via mobile app, you must physically check-in to the venue you’re currently at. The closest venues are found automatically by using device GPS to pinpoint your location. What Pelago looks to do with Whrrl that most other location-based services don’t do is to make the check-in experience a lot more social and engaging.

Whrrl’s has 2 key unique features. Its “Societies” implementation looks to bring like-minded people together. Users and businesses can create societies. As you check in to places associated with the society, you gain levels. Gaining levels allows you to unlock specials and discounts at participating venues. Societies also provide a central place for talking about whatever it is your society was created for. You can leave recommendations and tips and look at what venues are cool. For example, I’ve joined a Cheeseburger Society, on the quest to find the best cheeseburger available for sale. I’m sure I will one day soon find the ultimate cheeseburger by reading the recommendations made by my fellow cheeseburger brothers and sisters and visiting all the places listed in my society.

Another key feature is that in Whrrl, single check-ins can turn into stories. When more Whrrl users join in at the venue, they can start a story with you and show all of your friends just exactly what you’re doing. Upload pictures, add taglines, explain what’s going on – the world can see what’s going on throughout the night at your location. You and your friends tell the story.

Pelago is a small startup still, but is backed by very good investors, including Jim Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. Whrrl is currently its only product, but by also calling the app its “flagship” product, we can expect to see more great ideas coming from the company.

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Hype Aside, Most of Us Are Not Checking In

Despite all of the hype surrounding various check-in services, most of us are not bothering with any of them. Companies such as Google, Foursquare, Gowalla, Shopkick and the almighty Facebook all offer services which let you report your physical location online. This allows you to connect with friends on the fly or receive some pretty rad coupons and discounts when visiting a business. A recent study shows, though, that only about four percent of Americans have tried location-based services, and a mere one percent use them weekly.

“Ever since mobile phones and location technology got started, there have been conversations about the potential for doing something really incredible with this for marketers,” said Melissa Parrish, an interactive marketing analyst at Forrester. “But clearly the question is whether it has reached the mainstream, and it looks like the answer is no.”

Many businesses offer free drinks or discounts on goods when you check in there. Heck, you can receive even better goodies if you become the mayor of many of those same establishments. While this appears to be a great marketing ploy, there is a serious flaw in the equation if no one is using those services.

Twitter has over 145 million users. Foursquare has about three million subscribers. Loopt boasts four million fanatics. However, only about a quarter of them are active. The potential is out there to turn location-based checkins into a marketing guru’s dream. Despite VCs pouring more than $115 million into the mix over the past year, we just aren’t quite there yet.

Have We Thrown Privacy Out The Window?

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PEHUB wrote an alarming article last Friday about a lady named Louise who they identified & tracked using Foursquare. When she was confronted with this information, how did she respond? Lamarr was shocked at her answer – are you?

Reporter Leo Hickman outlined how easily he was able to stalk a woman chosen at random, using only her Foursquare account, a glance at her most recent tweets, and the information that Google has gathered about her over time, including her photo. Indeed, when Hickman tells her who he is and how much he’s “managed to deduce about her life simply by using my phone,” Louise doesn’t jump out of her seat and vow to quit using the service immediately. Rather, she calls the revelation a “a little unnerving,” before diving into Foursquare’s “excellent uses for business,” particularly when — ha, ha — it comes to ”stalking” potential recruits.

This is disturbing, to say the least. Have we thrown so much of our privacy out of the window that we don’t care when a total stranger tracks us down? Do we really believe we are invulnerable to becoming a victim of a serious crime due to this? It happens, you know. I’m not being an alarmist. People’s homes are being broken into because they tweet and “check-in” to tell the world they aren’t at home. Others are being stalked and harassed. It’s only a matter of time until we see headlines about someone being murdered or raped because they made themselves an easy target after giving away too much information online.

Yes, it’s fun to check in. Yes, it can be argued that it’s good for business. However, where do you draw the line between keeping yourself and your family safe and having a good time winning badges on sites such as the ones Lamarr discussed in this video?

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Can Use of Social Media Change Your Insurance Rates?

Checking into several bars in one night via FourSquare may not be such a hot idea, after all. According to Jeremiah Owyang, insurance companies are not immune to checking up on you via social sites like Twitter and Facebook. What they find could reward you in the form of lower rates. However, you could also find yourself having to pay more (or being dropped entirely) if you are engaging in “undesirable” behavior.

As Jeremiah points out, people doing things socially such as checking in to healthy restaurants could see that reflected in lower health insurance bills. However, if your insurance agent happens to see you bungee jumping on a regular basis via your Flickr account, things may not look so rosy when that next bill shows up in the mail. Jeremiah lists four ways that this may never work properly:

  • The data may not be accurate. Just because someone indicates they’ve gone to a bar doesn’t mean they’ve indulged in Irish car bombs till the sun goes down or even drank at all. Don’t expect all checkins, self-expressions to be accurate on how they are actually living.
  • The data could be gamed: it’s difficult to tie actual confirmation of said activities with the reality that they have. Anytime rules are set in place, there are opportunities to game it, expect loopholes and automated publishing tools to misrepresent actual behavior.
  • Members will clam up to evade the ’stick’: If customers know that data they publish will be used against them, they’ll lock up the data and not make it public. Instead, they’ll just make their data available to their friends and trusted confidants –no longer public.
  • Legal implications unexplored: We’ve not even explored how companies may be put at risk by using public information for or against members, which would result in a new class of legal services, great.

Those are all excellent points, but I have to loudly agree with the last one the most. Are we sure it’s even legal or moral/ethical for companies to “spy” on their customers’ private lives that way, and then use the information gleaned for their own benefit? We may never even have to worry about this. After all, most of the article is based on speculation. However, there was that one case up in Canada: a woman who had applied for medical disability was denied after the employer and insurance company viewed pictures of her playing on a beach via her Facebook page.

You just never know who is watching your every move online. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: IF you don’t want the whole world to know something, don’t post it online.

Swipely Turns Your Purchases into Conversations

Swipely from Swipely on Vimeo.

Swipely has launched as a invitation-only beta service right now and, according to Venture Beat, is “more than just a Blippy clone.” The primary difference from Blippy is that Swipely does not share the precise amounts of each purchase, likely soothing some of the privacy concerns that some would have over this service.

Many people aren’t sure they understand the logic behind the service. The goal is to turn your purchases into conversations by pulling in information about all of your purchases. The amount you spend may not show up… but the place you shopped definitely will.

This can be a good way to let your small circle of intimate friends and family members know what you’re up to, where you’re shopping and what you’re buying. But why would the World at large need to know these things? Are we so starved for interesting conversation that we all need to share everything we spend money on? Isn’t that what location-based services already do for us?

Services such as Foursquare already let us tell everyone where we are at any given moment of the day. Is it necessary, then, to let them know we spent money while we were there? If I were to check in from a restaurant, it’s likely a given I’m going to swipe my credit card when I’m finished.

I guess I’m with the majority of bloggers whose stories I’ve read this evening… I just don’t get the importance of this. However, you can watch the video for yourself and then let us know what you think. Is this something you would find useful?

Tellmewhere Makes Check-ins Make Sense

I am still on the fence when it comes to location-based applications. I can honestly see both sides of the coin. On one side, they can be useful when trying to make plans and connect with others. On the darker side of the coin, there are privacy concerns for many people. I don’t use the services myself, but certainly “get” why others do.

I read about Tellmewhere a little while ago, and things clicked inside of my head. THIS makes sense. You can use Tellmewhere to check you in if you wish to. However, that is not the main function of the app, which is available for both the iPhone (and iPod Touch) and Android.

Tellmewhere uses algorithms to create personalized recommendations for you. It can help you find a restaurant, a hotel or a flower shop. The service will compare your preferences to those of others like you, and come up with places that would best suit your tastes and style. It doesn’t only work for whatever place you happen to be in at the moment, either. You can use the app to look for places of interest in another city entirely.

The service has been available in Europe for quite awhile now, where it has over 500,000 users. It’s just now beginning to trickle into the United States, so you may not feel it works very well just yet. Give it time, though. I have a feeling that as more of us discover it, the better it will become. Check out the app for yourself, or perhaps even take a peek via their website.

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Are You on Gowalla?

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During the SXSW conference, I happened to run into Phillip. He is a developer with the Gowalla team. Up until that point, I had only heard about the service. I hadn’t taken the time to sign up or check in anywhere using the service.

Gowalla is a simple way to share your location with your friends, tell them about your favorite places, and figure out where everyone is gathering for the eveing. Location-based services made connecting with others a snap during the conference. With thousands of people milling about, it was nearly impossible to figure out where people wanted to congregate. Using a check-in such as Gowalla made allowed all of us to connect and make plans in a matter of moments.

Location-based services are HOT right now. It seems as though half the tweets floating across my stream are checkins from websites such as Gowalla. Are YOU checking in yet?

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