Ten years ago today, I joined a crazy little social network (in a way) called Foursquare. The idea was you would “check-in” to places to compete to be the “Mayor”, sometimes earning real rewards in the process, like a discount on coffee or a reserved parking space in the front of a mall.
Is wasn’t until too longer after that business started adding Foursquare stickers next to Yelp stickers, trying all kinds of ideas to drive business. Today, Foursquare’s dataset could probably rival that of Yelp’s, and for years it was used for location tagging on Instagram. However, it’s not as gamified as it once was, with the Foursquare app now used to looking up information on venues and leaving tips and photos. Checking in has now been split to a seperate app, Swarm. And to be honest, Swarm is really the only app of the two I actually regularly use.
18,834 check-ins, 2,324 edits, 1,487 photos, 474 ratings, 288 tips, and ten years later, what an incredible journey it has been. But, it didn’t actually start today. While I may have joined today, my first check-in wasn’t until the evening of February 13th. The reason is simple: I didn’t have a smartphone. In fact, my entire first year on Foursquare, and likely about half of my second, I relied on something else to check-in: a first generation iPod touch… and a good WiFi signal. Back then, even the iPad wasn’t out yet. No, that wasn’t until April 3rd, and I of course checked-in to that.
For half of the year, my Foursquare history from 2010 reads a lot like how I’d expect: a very bored me in New Jersey hunting for free WiFi. It wasn’t until July that things started to become a bit more fun. I definitely didn’t know that I’d soon be starting some of the most amazing five years of my life, if very busy, and extremely expensive.
I do have to laugh a bit that my first check-in from Drexel was at the shuttle stop. Back in 2010, public transit was hardly something I was interested in. It was almost unheard of in New Jersey, with the train to New York running once an hour and busses seemingly when ever they felt like it. I didn’t start at Drexel until September though, and sure enough, that’s when my Foursquare activity really picked up. Campus-wide WiFi helped a lot. But even then, it wasn’t until 2011 that I’d really become very active on Foursquare. The arrival of the iPhone on Verizon in February helped a lot. I think it’s almost fitting that my 1,000th check-in was at Apple Walnut Street.
So, here’s to ten more years of logging adventures around the world. It’s been fun looking back and seeing how some things have changed. Cellular internet has definitely helped.