This weekend, I thought I’d entertain myself with telling my weekends story to ..umm… well to myself. You know the the theory – location based social networking allows you to share your real-time location with those in your network. And since it’s geting harder and harder to stay disconnected, I decided to take out my new mobile phone, installed Google Maps, and Geolocate myself during my explorations to the Constitutional Court, a booklaunch of Inside Joburg by Nechama Brodie at the Boekehuis bookstore and a short little visit to O.R. Tambo Airport to pick up tickets. While the recent launch of Google streetview has prompted concerns about privacy, I ignored the issues and mapped my location using the phone’s GPS system, took photos with the 2 mega pixel camera and uploaded comments about the location and image to Buzz.
Geolocation is certainly not exclusive to Google. Foursquare, an application that combines city-guides and social networking, has turned location based social networking into a game. Repeated users of Foursquare get rewards for doing interesting things. They earn points by checking in at their current location, discovering new places and sharing tips. Those that make repeated use of the service earn badges and if you’ve been to a place more than anyone else, you’ll be crowned the “The Mayor” of that place.
I’ve been looking at how we can use mobile phones to introduce new students into knowledge resources on campus (the library, the LAN) and encourage them to make this corner of Jozi their new home. After my weekends solitary fun, I am looking at the possibilities of using Foursquare to help new students to explore their campus, its facilities and surrounding places of interest. The idea, I’m afraid, is not mine. Kyle James introduces the concept, Harvard has included this platform along with Twitter and Facebook, Indiana University Library is exploring foursquare in certain weeks. Since its launch, Foursquare has accumulated over 1 Million users in one year (Twitter took 2 years to this reach this point ). While orientation my be our initial intention, an interconnected community of people, ideas, and experiences could result if the students take to the concept. Sounds like a bit more fun than my solidary weekend with my phone for company.