I’ve never understood the latest social networking trend, the “check-in” apps, like Foursquare. You can let all of your online buddies know where you are right now! Woo! True, it appears that you can get discounts at some shops if you follow Foursquare’s instructions like a good little robot. And I guess it gives the possibility that if you and all your pals have iPhone-y devices, and use these programs, maybe you’ll discover that your friends are partying in a bar just down the street, making impromptu social gathering easier. Or make it easier to brag about all the cool, hipster places you frequent. Honestly, the more I investigate this shit, the more nauseating it seems.
Anyway, the only reason I’m writing about this at all is a quote I ran across in an article about the state of check-in. The focus is a super-predictable bashing of Facebook’s check-in features, by Dennis Crowley, the head of Facebook rival and check-in originators Foursquare. But the true meat of the story is this bit where Crowley describes his vision for check-in:
“In the future, I want Foursquare to be able to tell people where to go wherever they are in the world, based on their previous visiting habits, likes and dislikes and the time of day…We want to be able to push venue suggestions to you. That’s what I am pushing towards as we develop Foursquare’s tools and how we use our data.”
So that’s it. “Check-in”, the fun new social networking tool that combines gadgets, games, and bragging, is a tool for creating marketing profiles of its suckers, and then shoving targeted ads in their faces. In other words, selling audiences/consumers to advertisers. Just like TV.