Fun with Foursquare

The visualization below was built in 48 hours using the FourSquare API.

Ian Kennedy’s Foursquare by

A video of the global view, posted it on Vimeo, and posted it below.

Location, Location, Location

Great article in Ad Age about the significance of location-aware phones made the rounds yesterday. It’s not about the ‘text a Starbucks coupon when you walk by” type use case, it’s about engagement and brand utility.

“Everybody’s got a website, but nobody has a mobile experience right now,” he said. “Next year, probably the end of next year, if you pull your phone out and you’re in the Hilton hotel and it doesn’t tell you information about the Hilton, either your phone is broken or the Hilton’s broken. If you, as a business, own a location, you’ve got an interesting shot at reaching your customer.”


The promise lies in the realization that mobile isn’t just an ad play but an extension of the services and products businesses already offer. And location is one of the most important contextual clues a mobile phone can provide. “Mobile marketing will move beyond promotions and advertising,” said Kenneth Parks, senior VP-managing director at Digitas in Stanford, Conn. “It’ll be about mobile services that might be marketing but they’ll feel like services.”

and my favorite, from Dennis Crowley of Foursquare,

“There’s no such thing as information overload but filter failure,” said Mr. Crowley. “Location is one of those big filters we’ve been missing in a lot of stuff.”

Effective filters are topic near and dear to my heart and location is gearing up to be one of the best vectors we have to making this social/mobile web thing work.

Geo-tagging without tears

If you have a camera that writes geo data to the photo’s EXIF header – flickr’s new Import EXIF GPS preference is the simplest way to geo-tag your data. I like the way the preference text is written too.

Thanks very much!

Garmin to provide directions to your friends

no original descriptionImage via Wikipedia

Congratulations to my buddy Walt Doyle! His company, publishes the Facebook app, Buddy Beacon, which you use to broadcast your physical location to your friends. They’ve got and iPhone app and, just recently, they announced a partnership with Garmin to provide an overlay to Garmin’s GPS maps so you can see where your online friends are in the physical world.

No more calling your friends for directions to the party. Just have them check in on Buddy Beacon and you can get instant turn-by-turn directions!

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Realtime Map Tracking

Maybe it’s the air traffic controller in me but there’s something oddly compelling about watching little dots move across the screen when you know they represent objects in the physical world.

TechCrunch posts about Bill from BitGravity is streaming his driving trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles over a live video stream showing the traffic out his front dashboard and a Google Maps tile showing his position as he drives down Interstate 5. He’s just south of Tracy as I write this so tune in now if you want to see it live.

BitGravity SF to LA

And tomorrow morning, before I head over to pick up my wife and kids as they return from Japan, I will fire up Google Earth and use Aeroseek to follow Northwest Flight 28 as it soars over the Pacific and make sure they’re coming in on time.

Northwest Flight 28

Grim Visualizations : Crime Mashups 2.0

We all remember the Chicago Crime Map which took Chicago police reports and overlayed it on top of Google Maps. For many, this was their first exposure into the world of mashups and to a large extent opened everyone’s eyes to the benefits of opening up your data. That was 2005. Now the UED crowd has taken a shot at the concept and are starting to publish their own versions:


Oakland Crimespotting by Stamen Design


LA Times’ Homicide Map (anyone know who built this?)

Zillow Heat Maps

I was just checking out Zillow’s new redesign and noticed something I hadn’t seen before. The Zillow Heat Map layer shows you relative price per square foot over a region. Check the box in the upper-right of the map view and zoon out to city level to see it in action.

Was that there before or is this new?


Tag Maps

Introducing Tag Maps, the latest shiny toy out of the Yahoo! Research Labs. Basically they’ve pulled in the geo-coding information from flickr and extracted tags to clump together a people-powered view of the world on Yahoo Maps. Be sure to also check out Night Explorer and Trip Explorer for different views of the world.

Badges you say? But of course!

Current Events

Google Maps in your Pants?


Oh my God – this is so bad it’s funny. Dave Cassel of 10 Zen Monkeys deconstructs a radio spot on the GPS-enabled Helio that features a jingle refrain that’s going to stick with me a long time. I don’t think this was what Google was thinking when they set out to “organize the world’s information.”


flickr images in space and time

I was going to hold off on the Yay! Yay! Yahoo! posts for awhile after such a long string of them but then flickr took it’s wraps off it’s maps integration and I couldn’t resist. If you haven’t had a chance to play around with this, check it out. From your flickr account you can now Organize photos on a new Map tab. True to form, it’s all drag and drop and you can also set permissions because everything you drag onto the map will be thrown into the general collection of photos that everyone else drags onto the table. Look at the image above and to the right – this feature was launched only this afternoon and there are already over 15,000 (as of 11pm tonight) images polka-dotting the San Francisco peninsula! also adding flickr integration today with a handy-dandy tag generator for each upcoming event (they also pushed out a number of other changes which spiff up the site quite nicely). How many times have you been to one of those “well-documented” events where it seems like the people are more interested in moblogging each other than actually speaking (maybe this is just a Bay Area thing). At some point, someone gets the bright idea that it would be great to have everyone tag their collective photos so they can be pulled together under one URL. The recent TechCrunch/August Capital bash generated a ton of photos that were all looped under the techcrunch7 tag which was whispered from photographer to photographer as the evening went on. Now Upcoming resolves the doubt and debate and generates a tag for you right on the calendar entry for the event later crawling flickr to look for that tag to integrate thumbnails of your photos right onto the event page (see image above).

In one brilliant stroke we have a community of images in space (maps) and time (upcoming). I think it’s safe to say that we are living in one of the best documented ages ever. Archeologists of the future are going to have more than enough material to work with but I wonder what they’ll think about this sudden explosion of images in the early 2000’s – what caused this sudden impulse to re-interpret the world around us and categorize and share everything?

UPDATE: after only 24 hours Stewart writes that over 1.2 million photos have been geo-tagged. Never under-estimate the human desire to put things in their place!