Home Foursquare Launches Location Layers – This is Big

Foursquare Launches Location Layers – This is Big

Looking at life through rose-colored glasses? How about walking through your town and seeing it as the Huffington Post or the Independent Film Channel sees it? IFC announced a new campaign this morning with leading location-based social network Foursquare that will allow you to do just that. The Huffington Post launched a Foursquare layer today as well.

IFC polled its member base for short descriptions of their favorite places in the towns they lived in or visited, then picked the place-descriptions that best suited the IFC’s brand (“Always on, slightly off”) to upload into a Foursquare database. Foursquare users can now opt-into getting those tips pushed to them whenever they check in near one of the annotated locations. It’s a chance to effectively say, “I want to see this town as IFC fans see it.” For marketers, this has got to be incredibly appealing, and for urban explorers it could be one of the best examples yet of effective Augmented Reality.

Location as Platform

In January, Canadian newspaper chain Metro did a deal with Foursquare that tied content like restaurant reviews to specific locations as “tips.” When we saw that, we said that the era of location as platform had arrived. Then, in April the Wall St. Journal began experimenting with location-based news, adding interesting news tidbits to locations around New York City on Foursquare. That was getting interesting – not just lightweight content like restaurant reviews but things like a note that a terrorism suspect was once arrested in a particular location!

Please Push Me

Now the next logical step is to enable users to opt-in to having a publisher’s content pushed to them. That’s what IFC and on a smaller scale, the Huffington Post, have done today. Click to follow these publishers, check in near one of the locations they have annotated and your phone will get special tips pushed to it just like you get when near a place where one of your individual friends has left a tip.

A Psychedelic Journey

IFC’s crowdsourcing its data set is very cool. It’s not hard to imagine any number of organizations mobilizing their constituents to mark-up the physical world like this. Other organizations already have data geo-located. The Huffington Post Foursquare page is very sparse right now, but imagine if stories were parsed for geolocation (Superfeedr now does that automatically, for example) and populated locations by XML. You might check in downtown and get pushed a note from Huffington Post coverage of a protest or other news event a few blocks away. Not into HuffPo? How about a HotAir layer? Why silo yourself? Let’s get a Memeorandum layer in Foursquare!

See also: Why We Check In: The Reasons People Use Location Based Social Networks

There may be some technical matters to work out before dynamic content can be fed into Foursquare, but I’m sure the company is working on those. (In response to this article Huffington Post Social Media Editor Rob Fishman


that many of the ideas discussed here “are already underway.”)

I’m ready to follow the local historical society, an environmental justice organization or two, perhaps an art-graffiti-watchers association – the possibilities are nearly endless. Imagine allowing background location tracking and notification for some layers. “To see the world through the lenses of my favorite organizations” would be a nice addition to the reasons why people say they use check-in apps.

Can Facebook implement this kind of feature once location is rolled into its service? It’s a little hard to imagine; this feels like a feature that would best come from a service with location at its core.

In a perfect world, these location-based social networks would act like browsers, able to see and post interoperable location-based data from and to any platform. Don’t hold your breathe on that, though. The potential impact of marking-up the world is large enough that single vendors are most likely to try to dominate it all on their own first.

This is a really exciting idea.

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