Location-Based Networking Is Coming, Get Ready

You may have heard the recent hullabaloo (love that word) about Please Rob Me. If not, get this: the site gathers check-ins from Foursquare and Twitter that blatantly show you are not home and your house is open and ready for robbing.

Scary, right?


I loved this post from Waxy showing hysteria in 1977 and again in 1983. Location-based information is (again) coming of age, and we are freaking out (again) because we don’t know what to do with it. Just like newspapers and phones before the internet.

I have been percolating a post of this nature for a long time now. Because, as soon as I hit send, the information will change, seeing as the landscape is shifting daily. And, as my friend Dave Taylor mentioned last week at the Metzger Social Media Breakfast, it’s usually not a good idea to tell anyone to do, or not to do anything. (Heh, like that’s ever stopped me). His point was that we should just understand the ramifications of our actions.

And he’s right.

But WHY would anyone check in on Foursquare at their house?

Granted, we are still figuring out the POINT of location-based services right now, just like we worked through the kinks on Twitter for the past few years, but in general, at least for me – the point is to find my friends. (OK, and to win points.)

Example: Until my friend Terry checked in at the Chipotle near my office, we had no idea that we worked within a mile of each other. Just had lunch together today. Something that would not have ever happened had we not been using Foursquare and Brightkite. Awesome.

Here’s the thing. I *know* Terry. I know his wife. We talk to each other on Twitter, Facebook and via email. THAT is why he is my friend on Foursquare. I am persnickety about who I let into Foursquare and Brightkite. No offense. But sorry. If I don’t know you in other social media avenues or (*GASP!*) in real life, you will be ignored.

But I didn’t come to this conclusion right away. I had to think about it, talk to people (Bryan, James, Jeremy, Brian, Tara, Andrew to name a few), and come to *MY* conclusion about how *I* wanted to do things. If I want to be an early adopter, I need to jump in and try things out, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t think about what I am doing.

Which means this: Do not check in at your house. Your kids’ school. When you are alone. When you don’t want to talk to anyone. When you look like poop.

Think about what you are doing. And then do it.

This article has 18 comments

  1. The Zero Boss

    True, it can be used wisely. And the phenomenon of stumbling across someone you know when you discover via Twitter that you’re three blocks away from one another would be rad.

    Now if only people would stop publishing the lat/long of their houses on their Twitter profile pages…

  2. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Yeah, what is up with that?

  3. zipper

    I haven’t stepping into Foursquare (or Twitter for that matter) – but it just seems like people don’t think about what they are doing enough.

  4. Terry

    If I don’t want to be bothered, I check in as I’m leaving (or open the app as I’m leaving, and check in after I’ve gone.)

    If I feel like I’m showing a pattern (going to 2 places consecutively, regularly, or to one place at a regular time, for instance), I will avoid checking in at all.

    It’s all about knowing what you’re making available and stopping yourself from oversharing.

    That said, my phone number has been readily available for YEARS, and I’ve never received a single anonymous phone call. Funny how not being popular works out. 😉

    The people who WANT to contact me… well they already know how.

    If I ever become some minor version of popular, I will certainly reassess all of my available information. This will be possible, because I make a point to know what’s available.

    Kudos for encouraging everyone to raise their awareness. 🙂

  5. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Great tips Terry! And thanks again for lunch. 😉

  6. Dave Taylor

    Great points, Aimee. Today was another great example: I was pondering where to hang out this morning while working when a Foursquare checking from Klaus H. showed up. I saw where he was working and sent him a quick message: “up for company? I have to work too”. So we hung out for a few hours, sharing a table. Perfect!

    Having said that, it’s interesting that I am now sporadically getting Foursquare friend requests from unknown people / companies. I reject them all, and I think that’s going to be part of the smart future of geolocation: only sharing personal data like your location with people you already know, not the universe at large.

  7. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Totally. Thanks, Dave.

  8. Megan

    wow. That site is CREEPY.

  9. creative-type dad

    Wow, that’s creepy.
    Definitely not using any of that stuff because everybody knows I’m always down at the KFC.

  10. Tekee

    All good points, as are the comments. Don’t forget the badges! I’m sure you saw these…


  11. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Carrie, that is a really excellent illustration of something I alluded to. That often people don;t understand what they are doing and check in places when they don;t mean woo. Whrrl is another one I should have mentioned. Along with Google Buzz, which I have given up on because e I think it forces you too much to do location based stuff to use it’s functionality, and it’s REALLY easy to slip up and give yourself away without meaning to.

  12. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    And Ted – those badges are awesome!

  13. monstergirlee

    Yeah I won’t be using Foursquare. Its all I can do to keep up with the sites I currently use.
    Plus I am paranoid about the information I give out.

    Good article Aimee.

  14. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    RIGHT monstergirlee! Another good point. It is perfectly cool to choose NOT to do it at all! As I have told people in my social media classes, you never have to do ALL these things. It’s good to have an understanding of them all (especially if you are in marketing of tech or course) but you need to find the ones that fit for you, whether they are for work or fun.

  15. carrie

    I’m thankful that I’m too technically challenged for MOST of this.

    That said, I participated in a paid project (which meant posting to Whrrl) last month and since I had NO IDEA what the heck I was doing, my first (and only) check in was for “home.” I entered info and hit create and voila! Then, I pulled my head out of my arse and edited it. DUH. It’s really easy to accidentally give info away when you are not intending to. REALLY easy.

    I won’t do that again! GEESH! And, just as a reminder to myself: DUH!

    THX Aimee!

  16. Lady M

    Thanks for the link to the old-time fears, like the answering machine. I think that one shouldn’t use the postal service at all either, since you have to give out your ADDRESS! 😉

  17. Patois

    Darn, and I just only figured out that I shouldn’t have “HOME” programmed into my car’s GPS. “Hello, now that you have stolen my car, please drive it to my house and steal everything there.” My new “HOME” is the local police station.

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