Tuesday, 23 March 2010


I've been playing foursquare for the past month now and I am loving it. Why do I love it? Because it's fun. I think it's a great way to explore the city and discover new things. I feel like I am playing a game and I like that.

When I went to the event for Social Media week a month ago one of the presenters was talking about foursquare. I have some friends back home who play it, but I was curious about what it would be like over here in London. The big question playing on my mind at the moment is whether or not people actually interact with each other off the back of it. 

While I was sitting in the room waiting for the talk to begin there were loads of people tweeting away and following people who were in the room. I wanted to know if they would ever speak in person. Would someone go over and say hi to the person that they just followed or were they happy to hide behind "social" media?

So I am going to do some research. I want to know if people in London would interact with another player in a real space. At the moment I am sitting at the Diner off of Carnaby Street. I've checked in and at the moment I am the only player here. If there were more people here would we talk to each other? Would someone come over and say hi Rhea! Or would I do the same? 

In London, for the most part strangers don't speak to each other. There have been rare occasions were I've sparked up conversation with a stranger without them thinking I was totally mental; it's just not the norm. I've decided that I will say hi to any other foursquare player if we're both in the same place. Why not? I am up for taking a risk and seeing what will happen. 

I've also decided to take people up on the offers that they've tweeted. For example, I was at a coffee shop the other day and after checking into foursquare a message popped up that a nearby agency had a free desk going if anyone wanted to come in and use it.  Had I not been going to an interview there in 20 minutes I would have totally taken them up on it. 

The question I keep asking myself is if foursquare is supposed to be social? I wonder what would happen if I tried to swing by and say hello to my foursquare friend who had just checked in at say Saatchi and Saatchi. Do they want people to come find them? Or are they just trying to show off where they are? 

Which leads me to wonder about the integrity of the foursquare players. I am going to say this without any research to back me up that I think most people are honest about their whereabouts. 

You could check into a place and pretend to be there. I hope that people don't do this. The other day I was out walking around in Holland Park and I saw that a friend had checked into a place that was nearby. I thought, why don't I go there and say hello? 

I turned up about 20 minutes later and they were gone. That could totally be legitimate. They popped in for a coffee, signed in while waiting in the queue and then left. Perhaps it was just a take away coffee, but there was a split second when I wondered if they had been there at all...but I can sometimes be a little bit cynical. 

What do I like about playing foursquare? Well, it does make the city feel like a playground. I can be in one location and read some tips and go somewhere I've never been before. That's fun. 

I am going to do some research with my friends in Minneapolis and in London. I have to say that my foursquare friends here in London are a lot of people that I've never met in the first place. I've gone out on a limb and friended some people that seemed interesting and people have been nice enough to accept my request.

I put this question out on my FB wall: 

Here's a question for all you out there playing foursquare, do you ever interact with other people? If you're at say Starbucks and there are other people there who have checked in, do you say hello?

Here are some responses from my lovely friends

that's a dream of mine, hopefully someday, but i can never recognize people from their tiny pictures

I've sent a DM to "friend" someone I've actually met, but doubt they remember me to ask him the same. We shall see.

I have - yes. The only time it was someone I didn't know - it was because the guy was sitting next to me at the bar and laughed when I checked in.

Until then I am going to continue to play and try to interact with some real people :)

P.S.  I am friends with a guy who works at the agency where I had my interview today. While I was waiting in reception he walked through and said hello to me and called me by name. I've never met him before in real life. 

At the moment I am at a place called the Diner writing this post. I went and had a look at my foursquare account and noticed what this guy was up to. I noticed that you have the options to contact him by several different methods; twitter, FB, email, mobile or text. I decided to send him a text to his mobile saying that it was nice meeting him.

Now I don't know if this is a crazy thing to do, but if he's got his mobile number on there then it must mean he's open to being contacted. 

Has anyone else done this? I am out there all alone with my social experiments? Please leave comments and let me know how you interact with foursquare. 



  1. I made foursquare friends with a chap who kept knocking me off the mayorship of our local cinema - I've never met him but it's fun to have a bit of mayor banter

  2. I think trying to interact with people you "meet" through foursquare in the real life world is not at all mental. I think one of the biggest draws of this silly little program is that it gives us a new way to be "social". If you and another person are at the same place and you both check in you already have two things in common, one you are wherever you are and depending on the place that could say something about you and your interests on its own, and two you both are using foursquare. You already have two things to talk about!

    By using foursquare people are already putting themselves out there, they're being open to being identified and located. At least for me, when I check in somewhere, the best part is to see if other people are also there, and to read other peoples' tips about the place. Even in a busy place like the airport where there's 20 other people checked in, and even if I never speak to any of them, I already feel a little connection with them because we were at the same place at the same time. If another foursquarer said hello to me, I know I'd think it was neat, and I wouldn't think they were crazy. Maybe I'll try going out on a limb and saying hello next time myself.

  3. I wouldn't mind testing this study in Los Angeles. It would be interesting to hang out in Hollywood and see what happens and if people really will say 'hi' and the legitimacy of locations. Also, various places in LA like the differences between Santa Monica vs Hollywood areas which have very different people.


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