I used to be king of the playground in middle school. But now, thanks to the combination of technological advances, the development of mobile apps and I guess inevitable maturity, I’ve been knocked from my throne and reduced to a mere mayor, as far as Foursquare is concerned.
Arguably the fastest growing social presence on the Internet — sorry, Twitter — Foursquare is expanding more rapidly than my waistline at a Chinese food buffet. In its most recent launch, Foursquare is taking an aim at a specific demographic that has embraced this latest trend: college students.
In a recent effort to attract new users, the company rolled out its “Foursquare for Universities Program” to 20 schools across the country. This new program is geared toward encouraging students to use Foursquare as a way to develop better communication between alumni and staff, in addition to sharing information about campus news.
With several universities — like Harvard, Stanford and Syracuse — already adopting this check-in incentive, this could potentially serve as the long-lost motivating factor I need to get to the library and accomplish my work — not that several hundred pages of reading aren’t motivation enough.
I’ll admit it. “Hi, my name is Andrew, and I’m an avid user of Foursquare.” Yes, I’m the Mayor of Moonies and Ameritalia, and I’m not quite sure what that says about me. I’m still trying to figure out how the service is practical across a college campus.
I can rationalize how services like Twitter can benefit professors in a classroom setting, but as far as Foursquare is concerned, my teachers don’t need to know when I unlock the “School Night” badge for checking in at Wegmans after
3 a.m. on a weekday.
There are universities that are taking the necessary steps to incorporate check-ins into student life. Syracuse offers its students up to a 30 percent discount off of collegiate clothing in their bookstore Mondays after football games, simply for checking in there.
It’s these digital badges that are all the rage right now on the Internet. I’m the proud owner of 17 on Foursquare. But there’s something inherently cheap about giving me a digital image for my travels when I didn’t spend a minute of my time walking anywhere.
Foursquare is an addiction — considering I don’t remember how many trips I took to Rogan’s Corner in hopes of becoming the mayor. But in terms of Foursquare’s practical application, we need to check out the pros and cons and get back to square one — literally.
Andrew Weiser is a senior journalism major. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org