New technological services are acquired tastes: they start with curious interest, proceed to an almost immediate backlash and then, finally and mercifully, result in cautious acceptance. (When was the last time someone told you he doesn’t use Twitter because he doesn’t care what anyone had for lunch that day?) So in endorsing Foursquare, I know full well that you will scoff and roll your eyes and maybe even crumple up this glossy paper in an act of Luddite defiance against progress. Or maybe, more likely, you have no idea what I’m talking about.
Rudimentary definition sentence: Foursquare is a location-based mobile service that allows its users—that’s you!—to check-in to wherever it is in the world they might be, broadcasting their locations to their approved friends. It’s more complicated than that, of course. The nuance of the game, replete with competition for mayorships and badges, is part of its contagious charm, and, undoubtedly, why the app spread after Spring Break like a nasty chain e-mail.
That virality led me to believe that it’s the so-called next big thing at Duke—perhaps bound for greater ubiquity than Twitter—because it’s inherently perfect for the contained college campus, infested by students who might like to know where their friends may be at any given moment. Sounds stalkerish, perhaps, like something out of an Orwellian knock-off, but for the social among us, it’s critical to know whether Shooter’s or Devine’s is trending that night. (Likewise, for, um, group projects, it’s always helpful to locate a partner in Bostock or Perkins.) Duke students don’t stray far from the bubble, but sometimes, that bubble is bigger than it is convenient.
But for me, the best part about Foursquare—better than the location tips and the badges and being able to create a virtual duplicate of any location in the world—is that Foursquare tracks where I am every day, creating a digital history of my daily schedule, based on location. For this graduating senior—already nostalgic about checking-in to K-ville and then Cameron Indoor Stadium, a Main Street bar and then Cosmic Cantina at 2 a.m. and Cookout, anytime—it’s something else entirely. It’s another way of remembering.
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