Today, Fred Wilson wrote a short but fascinating blog post on visual representation of Foursquare check-ins via Google Maps, and the potential uses for this user-generated contend. Below are my last ~150 check-ins in New York City.
Want to see your own map? Foursquare has a page devoted to private feeds of your check-ins, available in RSS, KML, or ICS formats. So 1) go to your own private feed page, 2) copy the KML link, 3) paste the link into the Google Maps search box, and 4) click “Search Maps.” In terms of customizing the number of check-ins that show up, add the following parameter at the end of the KML link: ?count=25. “25″ will give you 25 check-ins, “150″ will give you 150, etc. In addition to the actual map view, you are also provided a list of all the thumbtacks you see on the Google Map.
I found this representation of my Foursquare check-in data to be fascinating, because it makes the previously “opaque” data so much more intuitively useful. Many people have expressed to me that they don’t see much value in checking in, but this type of “translation” of data makes the data much more useful.
As one example, Wilson comments:
“I would love to save these foursquare feeds in discrete chunks like this for future reference. Someone sends me an email saying “what did you do that was fun in Zurich?”. I could simply send them this list of checkins.”
Uses for me personally? A few that I thought of include:
- Giving a friend a few easy recommendations for restaurants in a given neighborhood
- Showing myself what neighborhoods that I have not really explored (Lower East Side, for example)
- Any others?
Key to the usefulness of this “translation” of data, though, is the ability to customize how you view the data, which is why the personal uses I’ve listed above are still rather limited. One can change the number of check-ins shown, but it would be nice to be able to show check-ins from a specific geography, a discrete time period, or for a specific type of check-in (only restaurants, only coffee shops, etc.) Hopefully this will be something that Foursquare (or a third-party app developer) builds out!