Beyond Check-in Spamming: Useful Ideas for Location-Based Apps

Josh Williams of Gowalla said checking in is the gateway activity of location-based applications. In my last post, I raised the question,”Gateway to what?” Here are some ideas I have to make these programs more useful:

* Create local Gowalla trips of state parks, art museums, historical sites, etc.
* When you create a spot in Gowalla, go back to the website later and add a detailed description including dates, history, and other information.
* Add at least one tip for every place you visit in Foursquare even if it’s bad. Enough bad reviews of the lasagna at an Italian place, and they just might take steps to improve it.
* Add a to-do for each of the places you normally visit in Foursquare. When you do this, you will remind yourself to try something different the next time you visit.
* Don’t just road munch and go after icons in Waze. Go to their website and edit roads, post to the forums, and add location names. You will be helping your community by updating the information around them.
* If you use Traveler’s Quest, don’t just dig or bury treasures in the comfort of your car. Walk to out of the way locations and bury the items.
* Take your kids with you when you use any of the geocaching applications. This is a great way to spend time with family and get outdoors to explore.

There are several other applications like MyTown, BrightKite, and Flook that I think could contribute to the value of society. With it’s rapidly growing user base, MyTown could turn it’s real estate game into something really big.

I hope you’ve enjoyed some of my ideas and I hope we can start to utilize these crowdsourced technologies for the benefit of all and not just for the egos of the players.


  1. Rog

    You might be interested in an article our @jane wrote for Vision Mobile ( we’re certainly with you that location is MUCH more than checkin.
    We want flook to be about sharing things to go and visit rather than just interacting with an electronic version of the real world.
    One of the things we see in the comments on the back of flook cards is that flook encourages people to interact with their neighbors based on location rather than just telling existing friends where you are.

    • Rog,

      Thanks for responding. I’m reading @jane ‘s article and it’s fascinating. Personally, I’m more into the gaming and education side of location-based applications but I really like the design and idea of how flook works. I have thousands of pictures from my travels on Picasa that I was considering moving to Flickr, but flook sounds like a more interesting place. Speaking of that, do you guys see Flickr as a competitor or as a completely different type of application?

  2. Rog

    We think flickr is just different. We are very big (as you’ve no doubt seen on Jane’s article) on user centric design not technology centric design.

    Flook fulfills a need to share and find ‘details’ or secrets present in the world around you. Photo and location are content pertinent to that secret. Flickr fulfills the need to share and consume photos you have taken. Location is an interesting information about that photo.

    We’re using similar content types (long/lat and digital imagery) to share very different content types to very different audiences. It’s like (say) the different between Avatar and the News at 10 – both use computer graphics, digital movies and audio but they do not compete – other than in the very broadest sense that they compete for your attention.

  3. I think I understand now. Flickr seems to be more on a macro-level while Flook is on a micro level. For instance, I geo-tagged and added descriptions of my pictures from an Iceland trip in Flickr for everyone to see. I’m also creating Flook cards for unusual things I see nearby like a rare car or something really different at a common location.

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