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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Every breath we take (Foursquare et al.)

Approximate location of this blogger, give or take a few hundred metres

After many months of dragging my feet, I joined Foursquare today. For those unfamiliar with it, this geo-social networking service allows a registrant user with a smartphone to download an application that makes it possible to easily "check in" to physical places. With tie-ins to Facebook and Twitter, it encourages users to publicly promote the businesses and services they prefer. This, in turn, is the incentive businesses value (endorsements) sufficiently to make offers to those who check-in to them.

Truth be told, I'm not a particularly suitable user of such services as these. First, I'd rather not have my whereabouts documented online to this level of detail, even though I don't live alone (and thus, am not quite so susceptible to being burgled).

Second, I'm an inconspicuous consumer - that is, I try to live frugally, and what I consider to be frivolous purchases mainly take place online (and quite infrequently, on the order of semi-annually).

Third, none of my friends live in locales that I could realistically visit (without taking a long haul flight). Case in point: my first four people I linked with on Foursquare live in Chiba prefecture, Tokyo, Saskatchewan, and Ontario, respectively. I'm excepting work related folk in saying that though, of whom I'm actually quite fond. It's just that my long standing policy to eschew conflating professional and personal relationships has resulted in residual levels of reluctance to socialize with them outside of regular work hours.

As counterpoints to the above three observations, though, I discovered that I did indeed have enough reason to join the service nonetheless. So long as I carry an Android phone, it seems my every move is being carefully tracked and filed away anyhow. I'm also interested in what areas where I do roam offer free (and presumably secure) WiFi. And I'd like to start documenting places and dishes that I would recommend to people who visit my city, which the "done" and "tips" features available to this service allow me to do ex post facto. I've already started to work on those, as I don't have to commit to stating when I experienced or ate anything, but just that I had.

The fact that I'm not tweeting my whereabouts (and that I intend to only sporadically check in at all; I've also been known swap my SIM card into a non-smart phone on occasion) means I can still achieve a semblance of living "under the radar". So to those readers who plan to request a link with me on there, please don't expect to infer too much more about my life, although by agreeing to open up this data to you, I would be showing that I implicitly trust you.

About Mayo

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Professional: As "Senior Enterprise SEO Strategist" in IBM's Digital Marketing division, I provide consulting and training services for both internal and external clients. Formerly I was involved in Natural Language Processing, software localization, quality assurance and documentation authoring.
Personal: INTJ Nikkei Nisei ex-patriated Canadian who takes photographs and enjoys Baroque through late Classical music. The G+ page shares some of the "best of" photos.