Check Out the Scene by Checking In

When it comes to the world of social media I wish I could say I’m an early adopter, but the truth is I’m usually a day late and a dollar short, as the expression goes. I think it comes from my high school/alt-rock days where I pretty much eschewed all things mainstream, at least that was my rationale for not hopping on the Facebook bandwagon. But let’s face it, I caved to peer pressure. Although lately I find myself wondering why the status updates are always from individuals I went to high school with and I need to search for my actual friends in order to find out what they’re up to. Bottom line? My interest piqued and waned.

Then, I discovered Twitter. The epitome of specificity wrapped up in 140 character statements of cleverness. My initial thought was Twitter was a souped up version of Facebook status updates — share random thoughts with your circle of friends — but I quickly learned it could be so much more. Case in point? At the New York Times Travel Show I tweeted from the sessions, discovered a travel world within Twitter, a new community of individuals and picked up followers who were interested in the travel “nuggets” of information I was sharing. I was hooked and still am.

Next up? FourSqaure.

At first I avoided the location-based social network. I thought it was a bit scary on a couple of fronts:

  1. Stalkers: people you don’t know finding out where you are.
  2. Over-sharing: think about it. People know where you are + you’re not at home = PleaseRobMe.com. Nuff said.

But time and perspective caught up with me, so I decided to give it a whirl two weeks ago. I figured, it would be beneficial for work (the nature of digital communications makes social media a point of interest) and could give me something to blog about. And let’s face it – averaging one blog entry a month? I needed to step it up.

So, the other day I was en route to work, checking in at various locations: Red Bank train station, NY Penn and the various coffee shops I pass along the way. One day last week, I checked in at a tiny little coffee shop, the aptly named Piccolo Cafe. Complete with old copies of La Repubblica plastered to the wall, I was ushered into a world of cappuccinos and tasty treats. Along with the check-in came a whole slew of “tips” – which made me think of, what else? Travel.

I’m not sure how widespread the FourSquare phenom has spread to other cities, but it could actually be the perfect travel guide, complete with the local’s perspective. By checking in to whatever restaurant, train station, museum or hotel you happen to be at, you could get a sense of where you are, connect with other FourSqaure aficionados and/or learn what the locals think of their favorite haunts. It is, in a sense, a traveling guide book that goes with you wherever you go.

Now that’s making technology work for you.

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3 thoughts on “Check Out the Scene by Checking In

  1. It’s true, FourSquare is a bit stalker-y and creepy in ways, so I don’t necessarily check-in everywhere I go (like to the grocery store, for instance). However, you’re right about its merits – I love reading tips that people have shared, especially when it comes to favourite food dishes, or drinks that are a must-have. I try my best to leave solid tips as well, especially if I’m a regular somewhere. As long as you’re able to access FourSquare while travelling, it’s a valuable tool for learning about local spots!

    • Hi Lindsay, that’s good advice on checking in. I’ve currently set my profile to private so only friends can see my whereabouts, at least until I have a handle on what the potential benefits (or risks) may be. I’m glad to see I’m not too far off in speculating about FourSquare’s potential — I can’t wait to be in some exotic locale and see what is revealed.

  2. Pingback: It’s a Big, Social World Out There « erin graves

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