Cheating Foursquare to tell a story

Popular geolocation site/app/game Foursquare can be cheated. Right now I could check in to the The Luxor, Las Vegas and in 5 minutes I could into Luxor, Egypt.  This is open to abuse. When Foursquare offered mayor specials to Dominos Pizza in the UK, I tried cheating to become mayor of my local Dominos (I soon got bored and gave up).

But what if as a journalist or media org, I could cheat Foursquare to tell a story. For example if I were writing for Blog Preston and I had a council story. I could check in at the Town Hall with a link to my news story and post that to twitter. I then have a location and social network tied to my story. A national news organisation could map the country or even the world with their stories.

The possibilities are numerous for this. Foursquare checkin data can be exported as a feed and used as map data. Below are my recent checkins as viewed on Google Maps.

A hyperlocal news site could integrate this map data to show where their news stories are originating from. It’d be really interesting to read local news but also have a sense of where they’re happening in relation to me. It would make local news that much more immersive.

I welcome any critique of this idea in my comments or tweets to @djbentley. Or please gladly link me to people already implementing this.


Thoughts on the @Guardian WordPress plug-in

Today The Guardian announced a new WordPress plug-in, a tool designed for bloggers to incorporate full Guardian articles into their blog. As a blogger on media issues this immediately caught my attention as a tool that might be useful to me. But the more I read about it the more I failed to see it’s usefulness, for me anyway.

I tweeted about it…

and attracted the attention of Michael Brunton-Spall a developer advocate for who had a hand in creating the new plug-in. He invited me to email him my thoughts on the plug-in and what I think could be done better. So here is that email. I look forward to Michael’s reply and will follow up accordingly.

Hi Michael,

Just to expand on my thoughts regarding the Guardian’s WordPress plug-in.

Code: I don’t like the idea that for these features I have to install extra code on my WordPress installation. However light or simple it may be it’s still taxing my server resources.
While I commend the Guardian’s innovation in this area, and to my knowledge you’re the only group currently doing this, I don’t like the idea of having to install a new plug-in for each media organisation. I will sometimes on my own blog want to talk about a Guardian article but this may be a couple of times a month maximum, unfortunately not enough for me to warrant installing this code. You’re also, as I understand, installing some sort of analytics code through the plug-in? Understandable from your end, but not something I like.

Style: If you continue to be the only group using this then, as a blogger, I’ll need to adopt a different style of blogging for referring to Guardian content as opposed to other media orgs. As I understand from the T&Cs of the plug-in I may not alter the original text of the article, but its generally considered good blogging practice to quote small sections and link to the full article. I don’t really want a full article by somebody else on my site.
It may set a precedent of people doing ugly, and without proper provenance, reblogs of entire articles from other sites who don’t have such a platform.

Openness: I really love the OpenPlatform initiative from the Guardian and it’s already lead to some great sites and data access. However is it really “open” if you’re promoting the use of one blogging platform and tightly integrating with it at code level? I’m not a web coder so forgive my naivety but is there no Guardian server-side way of delivering content to a variety of platforms? A “post to blog” button alongside the usual tweet/email/print buttons?

I appreciate you’re not enforcing the use of the plug-in and I can carry on about my business the way I was before. I’m not criticising innovation in delivering content, it’s an area that excites me. These are just my thoughts why the WP plugin is not for me, and I believe I’m approximating the target user for this sort of thing.


Daniel Bentley