Dear Dennis Crowley, it’s not me… it’s you!

Dear Dennis Crowley,

I’m so sorry: it’s not me… it’s clearly you. I remember the old days like it was yesterday. You launching Foursquare in 2009 here at SxSW. It was awesome. I seduced my friends in warming to the application… I collected mayorships like there was no tomorrow…

And badges Dennis, badges. I collected them all over the planet. Swarm badges. Special badges. Badges nobody else had. Every year, the first check-in in Austin gave me my SxSW anniversary badge. I got the far-away badge. I woke up at ungodly hours to get the middle-of-the-night badge. The pub-crawl-badge. The hang-over badge.

We used our phones like guns, slinging it faster than our shadow to beat others at check-ins.

I tried to warn you. Remember that stern conversation in Cannes two years ago? But you would not listen. You had to change Foursquare your way.

No more mayorships. No more leaderboards. No more badges. No easy way to see where my friends are. You split my favorite application in two…. And none of the two halves is doing it for me. I cannot even figure out which of the two annoys me more…

Swarm and Foursquare. You even changed the logo. My badges are gone. So is my interest. The apps seem doing all fine by themselves. One looks a bit like a worse version of Yelp. The other one… what exactly is the other one Dennis?

I cannot stomach the courage to uninstall them. And apparently they know where I am. That’s good.

But you killed the fun in being a Foursquare user Dennis. There is no excitement left. No fun. No adrenaline. Foursquare outlived its usefulness to me.

I would have broken up with you face to face. In person, Two adults. But you are nowhere to be seen here at SxSW Dennis . There is Meerkat. And flying cars,  Nasa, robots. But you and your hoodie are nowhere to be seen.

What happened to ‘look and listen’ ?

I’m having a beer in the bar. Alone. To toast to our good old days.

Gowalla dies at #SxSW. 3 years old, RIP.

One would almost forget. Simultaneously to Dennis Crowley’s future visions on SoLoMo, location based social networks and Foursquare, Gowalla died a gruesome and lonely death, somewhere in the deep, cruel and moist dungeons of Facebook.

90 days after Facebook  opened its checkbook to buy Gowalla, the doors of the company have officially been sealed. A kick in the head for the Texan incubation and start-up loving community, because Texas was Gowalla’s homebase.

“There can be only one”, and it seems that Foursquare won de battle hands down. There will be muscle fletching and eyeball rolling between Foursquare and Facebook for sure. But the cutest player has quietly left the building through the backdoor.

#SxSW does not like defeated technologies and brands. It is for the glorious startups, the victorious winners, the ambitious coolcats. But I wanted to lay a wreath on the doorsteps of the convention center for an adorable little Texan baby that did not make its third birthday.

Rest in peace, Gowalla.

SoLoMo- Beyond the check-in: peer-review

It started as a nice gimmick: checking in where you went, and sharing that precious information with your friends. But as Gowalla, Foursquare and Facebook places found out real quick, it takes more than just offering the opportunity to make people to use the service.

Dennis Crowley pointed out in his keynote at #SxSW that he intends to bring Foursquare beyond the mere check-in. “Screaming and begging for a check-in is contra productive”, he said: “offering people more opportunity to connect, and to share information about their environment and experiences is what makes a location based application thrive”.

Crowley has a point. People do not embrace applications for the sake of it. After a rather short honeymoon with a new application, they want to see a clear benefit to keep on using it. The experience Crowley was talking about was way bigger than just Foursquare and radar. It is about how to morph an application in an experience that is worth sharing. The location based app, that steps up to be your social savvy city tour guide, pointing out the best places, the grooviest vibes, and the restaurants that matter.

That is the heart of the whole SoLoMo thinking. Location based, social powered, and accessible on mobile. SoLoMo should not put the application in the focus, but the social experience. Gathering social pointers, contextual information, and honest crowd feedback are the keys to success. What works for the scientific community is now coming to your social experience: peer review.

Powered with honest reviews of people about their experiences, SoLoMo becomes an important experiential influencer. People follow opinions and experiences from their peers with more than interest: all studies show that peer review and peer influence are critical factors in the buying cycle.

Foursquare (and other) want to capture your experiences and your contextual feedback, for the next user. Based on your profile and location, they will soon be able to sniff your intentions, and give you contextual information about that. Forward looking pointers, information on what you are most likely to do… SoLoMo passed yet again an important crossroad…

Dear Dennis: No Badges, No love…

I admit it, I’m a Foursquare junkie. I like to put places on the map, I upload pictures and tips like crazy… you can follow my every move on Foursquare’s map, and I collect mayorships and… badges.  Dear Dennis, I’ve never been this high on badges since my young boy scout days.

And, now that we finally met in person at the #canneslions , there is no Cannes lions 2011 badge. Nowhere. No. Badge. To. Be. Had. I collected a few mayorships (noblesse m’oblige)… but that was it.

In an interview you said you were a bit surprised about check-ins in Cannes being below par. But seriously, why would people continue to check in, if you do not provide the badge. You whispered something about “Foursquare throttling down on event badges”. Why. O Why?

The excellent Brandbuilder Olivier Blanchard gave you some great tips a while ago, but diminishing badges was not on that list! While Foursquare is an excellent location based reference tool,  there needs to be some kind of reward or recommendation for the user, Dennis.  Businesses get better with good peer reviews. You and your loved ones will get (way) better with the new VC funding , and… one day your IPO or M&A. But for us, dear Dennis, we need badges.

I got some nice stuff from Gowalla. But let’s agree dear Dennis, that is not the same! It’s good for once. We’ll be at the next event. Checking in. For your badges, don’t let us down.


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