Spam Expands In Space-Time

As data usage expands into new dimensions, from 2-D print to the internet and now geolocation, spam will tag along.

Foursquare is offering an essentially useless promotion, a Starbucks frappuccino special that is taking on a distinctly spam like aspect: It’s a low-value offer available only to a tiny number of people.

Tod Maffin noted that the ubiquity of Starbucks, with the chain’s next-to-worthless Foursquare offer, poses a serious challenge to the app’s usefulness. It is location spam, LBS spam or “Something You Aren’t Interested in Nearby!”

There are more Starbucks in this city than stop lights. One intersection even has two Starbucks! That means that pretty much any time you use Foursquare in Vancouver, you’re going to get an offer from Starbucks.

Problem is, the Starbucks offer is lousy. It’s only for the person who has checked in the most — and even then, it’s a cheap offer: $1 off a limited number of their cold beverages.

Negative benefits

Apparently the law of diminishing returns from too much advertising can move on to a second phase of dis-utility, which actually drives customers away. This is an even worse outcome than not advertising at all!

Forrester gives the concept some in-depth coverage: Foursquare Advertising Getting Less Interesting.

Published in: on August 3, 2010 at 9:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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Trial By Fire and Volcano for Social Media LBS

The Eyjafjallajokul Volcano in Iceland erupted on April 17, 2010. Social media gave valuable assistance and emotional support to those effected, described by Identityspecialist.wordpress.com’s “Social Media and Volcanos” . This is probably the best justification for incorporating location-based services (LBS)

Horses Led to Cover after Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull Volcanic Eruption

into social media applications I’ve seen to-date. While civil defense and emergency response is completely beyond the scope of location based cell apps FourSquare, NearbyTweet, GPS-driven Gowalla and even Facebook and Google, it sure is a nice recourse to have in a situation like this. The civil authorities can do their job, and individuals can help each other too.      

Ash Cover After Eruption

But I still have major concerns about privacy and personal safety with potential exposure due to LBS usage for social media when there is NOT a crisis or natural disaster in progress….

Published in: on April 23, 2010 at 4:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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Thoughts about Emotional Data in Wiredset Blog

Foursquare User Numbers Soar

The title of the article Data Driven Experiences: Emotional Data, by Mark Ghuneim is fascinating, however, I’m concerned about address-level sharing of geo-spatial information as part of social networks.

FourSquare is a phone application that has seen soaring popularity since the 2010 SXSW event in Austin,Texas in March. Details of how the application works can be found at the Foursquare.com site. I was dismissive initially. It seemed little more than a way of telling others where you are at the moment, maybe make a restaurant recommendation, and earn very cute badges based on level of activity.

Activity is measured by the user’s “check-in” to a location, which is received and time stamped via mobile device by FourSquare and further validated by GIS-type service. Of course there is the element of competition by earning badges and becoming “Mayor” of a location. FourSquare also offers users a less blatant way of informing friends, and possibly everyone else, that you shopped at a great new clothing boutique, or went dancing at an upscale club over the weekend. Better yet, if you made an appearance at not merely one nightclub but three, in a single evening! FourSquare would be very effective for that. Why? Well, the app is new and not yet hacked or gamed by savvy users, it is far more credible than heresay and not subject to human error.

Foursquare activity in TX

Foursquare activity @ SXSW 2010, Austin TX

At first glance, FourSquare and similar didn’t seem terribly compelling. Merely more of the popularity contest and conspicuous consumption effect? Well, I didn’t foresee much potential for widespread appeal for another social networking phenomena, different but novel in its own way: the Facebook game, Farmville… and I was so very wrong.

Foursquare Logo

Businesses will certainly find value from subscriptions to FourSquare user data feeds. Geo-spatial data based social network applications, described by the more general term of LBS, location-based services, are attracting attention in unexpected ways.

For example, FourSquare advocates introduce the alluring idea that it actually enriches the lives of users with a collectively magnified knowledge base of the world to draw on, leading to a higher level of engagement with everything.

However, I believe that most possible benefits are far outweighed by the risks of over sharing. The most obvious negative consequence is increased vulnerability, impacting personal, family and property security. Note that FourSquare does have a posted privacy policy , about which I am not informed enough to comment.

Published in: on April 2, 2010 at 11:21 am  Comments (2)  
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