Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Have you checked in?

Like all things, Social Media is evolving.

At first you just posted to Twitter or Facebook that you "just got to Target" or "finally hitting Starbucks for some much needed coffee". Then Twitter added features to allow you to post your location along with your tweet but you still had to tweet where you were. The location feature just posted a link to the map coordinates of where you were. This created a gap in the Social Media landscape that Location Based Check-In services evolved to fill. Gowalla, Foursquare, Loopt, Yelp, and now Facebook Places are examples of this Social Media evolution. Each has its own unique take on the Check-In process but all are generally the same at a base level. Opening each app begins the location portion of the service and you are then presented with a list of Businesses, Venues, Restaurants, etc... that you can Check-In to if you are close enough. Each app has a form reward system for being the person to check in the most at a particular location.
  • Gowalla has a general Leader Board for each location but focuses more on random virtual goods that you "find" by checking in. You can collect these or drop them at locations to become a "Founder" (for the first few to check in) or swap items to find rare ones that you don't have in your collection. Gowalla tracks your achievements thought Stamps in your Passport for things like posting pictures, achieving a certain number of check ins, and unique stamps for each State you check in to.
  • Foursquare awards "Mayorship" of a location if you're the one to check in the most number of times in a particular period. You also earn Badges for certain goals similar to Gowalla's Stamps.
  • Yelp is more of a Review site but recently added Check-In ability and awards titles of Duke or Duchess for those that check in the most at a location.
I don't use Loopt or Facebook Places frequently enough to know what their reward system is like but so far I've not heard of one for either.

Since Yelp is already established as a general review site/app, Gowalla and Foursquare are the leaders currently duking it out for supremacy in the Location Based Social Media game. Foursquare is rapidly being embraced by the Business Community with deals, discounts, and specials offered to the Mayor of a location or simply for checking in. Gowalla recently entered into a deal with Disney and will award you unique Stamps/Buttons for check ins to each of the Disney Attractions. Gowalla also has a feature to allow users to post travels that people can recreate by following your check ins. (sort of a "follow me" tour of an area). This feature was also part of the Disney deal.

I see neither service rushing out to be an overall leader. Instead I see each becoming a leader in their own arena. Foursquare is looking to be the leader in the Business end of things while Gowalla is looking to become the leader in the Recreation arena. The Disney deal gives Gowalla a strong lead on that front and other parks and venues will probably follow suit. Add to that the fact that the new Gowalla v3.0 iPhone app now uses the Facebook and Foursquare API to allow you to use one App and check in to all 3 services as well as post updates to Twitter. That fact might help push Gowalla into the lead a little bit since nobody wants to use 3-5 different apps just to get all your check ins done. I like the new Gowalla v3 app and use it as my main one for check-ins. One App to rule them all as some would say :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

iPad = Star Trek Geek's Ultimate Toy

The iPad is quite possibly the coolest Geek Gadget I've ever owned (so far). Its exactly what Gene Roddenberry foresaw as one of the futures of mobile computing when he created Star Trek. A thin, portable, powerful, touch screen interface to access the worlds information. Kudos to Apple for making his dream a reality.

Of course it was only a matter of time until someone took the Star Trek LCARs interface and wrote an app to literally turn your iPad into a Star Trek PADD. The most interactive and useful one I've found so far is called LCARS Internet Media Reader by the guys at Krueger Systems [iTunes Link] ($4.99 USD). Its mainly a Reader app for now without the ability to post but updates are hopefully in the works once they get some annoying legal issues worked out with the Studios.

A few other LCARS related apps that I've found and like are:
I am ever hopeful that Paramount will get their head out of their collective asses and put a Dev Team on LCARS Application Development. They are missing out on a Metric Ass Load of revenue from the Star Trek Fan Community. The above apps are rather inexpensive and focused on a single or short list of features. The money is in the Official, Licensed versions that would be feature rich and supported rather than independent apps that could disappear via C&D order from the studios any day now.

Come on Paramount! Where are the Official apps? You have no problem having Captian's Log yanked from the App Store yet you haven't given the fans what they are obviously willing to PAY for.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Seriously? WTF Denver?

Face it. The terrorist have won.

The whole point of terrorism is to strike fear and discontent into your enemy disrupting their everyday life. To cause them unrest through acts of violence that lead them to constantly expect another one to occur. To breed paranoia into their daily life and make them eventually self destruct. Like this event the other day in Denver. Someone mounted a TOY robot to a pilar around Coors Field. Nobody knows why the toy was cemented in place but some mental giant sees it and immediately thinks BOMB!!! It never occurs to them to look at it and see its a FRAKIN TOY ROBOT. They simply panic and alert the Bomb Squad. This leads to fear and panic plus hours of traffic jams. All for a TOY ROBOT. Someone was so caught up in all the Right Wing media Fear and Suspicion propaganda that they saw this TOY ROBOT as a threat. This person was so blinded to common sense that all they could see was a potential bomb.

Here is the kicker. We'll never know who the "concerned citizen" was that caused all this needless waste of tax money and police time. Since it turned out to be "a whole lot of nothing" the idiot that called it in will scurry away and hide from the limelight and reporters.
If this had actually turned into some form of bomb or threat that same person would be front and center with every reporter and TV camera crew they could find so they could tell the world how they spotted the threat. He/She would end up on Talk Shows and Radio Programs to tell what they saw and how they reacted to save people. Hell, Hollywood would make a frakin movie of the week around the entire event. All of which is total bullshit. Spotting a threat and making a phone call does not a Hero make. People that call in bogus threats like this need to be named and opened to the ridicule that they deserve. He/She pushed their fear and paranoia onto the public causing disruption and panic for no legitimate reason. They saw a boogieman in the shadows and wanted to make sure everyone else saw it too.

It's shit like this that prove the terrorist have already won.