NFC-powered Foursquare check-ins and 4sqwifi, an app that uses the Foursquare API to help users find free wifi and passwords, it seems like location is no longer a standalone space. Or maybe it's just not being done right.Whatever happened to location being about just location? With the recent launch of
Meet SkyChalk, the most noncommittal location-based site we've seen as of late. It doesn't rely on Foursquare's API, and it also isn't about the whole check-in game. Co-founders Justin Krause and Scott Wen say that SkyChalk "is about communicating with neighbors, visitors, and local businesses." In that way, it still has the feel of Foursquare, but without the gameification element - and more focus on the location itself. Instead, it reminds us of what Craigslist used to be before, uh, all those sex scandals took over.
On SkyChalk, you can choose to login and create an account, or you can just post anonymously. SkyChalk does not send personalized recommendations, ask users to check in to every place they visit, share a ton of information to other social sites, or give out badges. It's so simple that it just might work. SkyChalk users can post a message to a physical location after selecting from the following categories: uncategorized, gatherings (events, meet-ups), knowledge (local tips, history), marketplace (for sale, trade, deals), overheard (news, gossip, intrigue) or romance (flirting, dating).
Users post notes about a location and, over time, establish a reputation around that location. He or she will then receive comments or replies related to that place.
Registered users can also opt for subscribed places, a list of three places they actually care about. SkyChalk will send a weekly email to the user with a round-up of everything that has happened there over the past week.
Anonymity on SkyChalk may seem like a ripe space for spam but co-founders Scott Wen and Justin Krause say that they carefully monitor the site for inappropriate content. In that way, SkyChalk reminds us of the good ol' Craigslist community board, which was monitored by Craig himself, combined with EveryBlock, a citizen journalism site for community members to see what's going on in their neighborhood.
"Many people simply aren't going to be interested in chatting on Craigslist's community boards," writes Krause. "But when they see a comment that is tied to the block where they live, or a question from someone who lives across the street, that feels very local and people want to respond."
The location space isn't dead - it just needs to be revisited and refocused on location.
"The problem is that anyone can slap a geolocation onto a Facebook message, tweet, or whatever - but that doesn't give the content local intent," writes Krause. "If you post a Beyonce video to Facebook from your favorite cafe, that says nothing about the cafe, and people around you probably don't need to see it. People have tried to just put Tweets on map based on where they were sent, and it fails for this reason. You are sharing information with your friends, not with people around you."