My response to a letter from Jeff Pulver exclaiming how strongly Gowalla performed at SxSW 2010. I was surprised that he never mentioned Whrrl in his letter even though they had just sponsored a party for him in Los Angeles.
Both Gowalla and Whrrl are now defunct. I did sign up for Gowalla and used it for a couple of years. I created Whrrl “stories” at SXSW, unfortunately, since the site was taken down, so were my stories.
I am a SuperUser Level 1 on Foursquare probably because I was the person using it the most on Kauai and I was helping them to set locations back in the day.
The primary appeal of Whrrl for me was that my friend Heather Meeker was the Director of Marketing for Pelago, the makers of this start-up platform.
Heather and therefore Whrrl threw the coolest party that I attended at this SxSW at the Belmont Hotel.
Good hearing from you Jeff. I agree that FourSquare took a huge leap at SxSW 2010. I got FourSquare summer of 2009 but did not experience a feeling of ultimate usefulness until SxSW 2010. I haven’t seen their membership figures but I imagine that SxSW took them to a new level. I have signed up for Gowalla but not used it yet so I can’t comment on that platform. One geo-locator service you didn’t mention is Whrrl.
What I like about FourSquare and Whrrl is that I can choose privacy settings and within those services I am only broadcasting to my friends. I can copy to Twitter/Facebook when I choose. I have not turned on the geo-locator on Twitter and do not intend to.
I began using Whrrl just before SxSW following a Tech Crunch story on the service. There was a Whrrl team at SxSW which was helpful in getting me quickly through the initial learning curve. But though it is certainly more complex than Foursquare, it is not hard to use. Whrrl has just as many, if not more check in locations than FourSquare. After check-in, I can add photos and notes to create a “story” about my Check-in Apparently, my stories stay archived on my Whrrl page instead of just scanning through.
I did this interview at SxSW with John Kim from Whrrl on GeoLocation privacy issues.
*A Foursquare addict friend tried Gowalla, didn’t like it and I took his word for it. I will probably try it out. But how many times can you check into one place?
I did not stop using Twitter during SxSW. I live tweeted a few times during sessions. Apparently Facebook was getting pounded late at night at my hotel because it was fairly inaccessible for loading and tagging photos.
Wasn’t the #140conf party at Lanai on March 13 WITH Whrrl?
I would agree with you that the “game” aspect of the Geo-Locators is a minor attraction. Soon after beginning to use Foursquare, I turned off the auto connect to Facebook which had my wall looking idiotic with frequent new badges.
Some representative articles on Geo Locators, Whrrl and SxSW 2010
John Cook on Tech Flash
Appolicious by Kathryn Swartz
Jeff Keni Pulver
March 22, 2010 5:48:22 AM HST
SXSW 2010: The days twitter became less relevant
A strange thing happened on the way to Austin. A community of twitter faithful shifted from sharing everything about everything on only twitter (and maybe Facebook) and changed their habits to rely on learning about what was happening and where things were happening by using Gowalla instead. I’m sure there were other products and platforms being used including Loopt and GySPii but foursquare and Gowalla were the dominant platforms.
Friends of friends not attending SXSW may have (greatly) appreciated the reduction of what might otherwise appear as “noise” on twitter about specific happenings at SXSW. However, the unintended consequence of not using twitter at SXSW meant SXSW spent little time as a trending topic which in turn may have lowered the buzz and the impact being a trending topic can have.
In the year since SXSW 2009, a number of my friends became passionate and dependent on using Foursquare and/or Gowalla as the platform to share where they are and what is happening around them. At SXSW, this was taken to a new level. It turns out that if you are spending time around your friends and you have a chance to speak to them almost at will, there is something to be said about only sharing your location information and then having the ability to make decisions of what to do (or where not to go) based on this information.
There were times where I could feel the ebbs and the flows of the people move as different people checked into various locations. While most of this was felt locally in the place I was in, it also became apparent on the platforms when hundreds of people would rush to check in to a location. There were also times when it felt like I was chasing ghosts; These were the times I would go to a spot because a friend had checked into that spot only to discover they were no longer there.
Personally I thought foursquare’s introduction of trending places was a good one and a foreshadowing of future features. I look forward to seeing more derivative information shared in the future. I believe it will be the information shared from the 1st and 2nd derivatives of the core information that will keep people using location based services.
Based on an unscientific poll of a just a few people I spoke to during the breaks, at lunch and my flight home, a typical comment shared was: “I haven’t been on twitter for 2 days. Not sure when I was on last on Facebook. Instead I just look on Foursquare for what is happening and where it is happening.” These words were shared by many of the people I spoke with.
I do not believe this is the case of one community moving to a new platform just because it is new and cool. I believe the shift was intentional and was a means to an end. And it wasn’t about the games or the badges but rather it was the tool used by people to figure out the: who, what, where things were happening. I also believe the shift was a transient one. Moments after returning from SXSW, I found myself and friends had switched back to using twitter once again as our default communication platform.
One cottage industry that could have taken off at SXSW would have been “safe and secure” smart phone recharge stations at the various parties. Turns out at SXSW, the duration for the battery life for many of our devices was less than the amount of time we ended up being awake. By the end of each evening, we were not only tired but our phones had no energy left either.
What does any of this this really mean? I am still not entirely sure. But I do believe SXSW 2010 will be known as the time Foursquare came of age and the place where at least one community trades dependence on twitter had shifted and their use of twitter changed, albeit slightly. This is a topic on my mind as I continue to work on April’s #140conf NYC event and something I will be covering in detail tonight at the monthly #140conf NYC Meetup
Best regards, Jeff
Linda,Thank you So much for your fabulous write up that mentions Whrrl. We’re so glad you’re enjoying Whrrl 3. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me anytime you have ideas, questions, feedback, etc. Would love to meet you soon!-Jeanna BarrettWhrrl Community Manager
Linda Sherman Gordon says
You are most welcome Jeanna
Wolfie Rankin says
I’m using Foursquare and Gowalla here in Australia. When I loaded it up, I was surprised to see that there were a lot of locations already showing up. but a lot more need to be added to make the applications useful. so today I went to my local shopping area and blitzed the place… pardon me if you find this a bit naughty, but I called these apps "electric urine" as we’re basically marking our territory like dogs… especially with gowalla which always recognises it’s founders, and that makes me prefer Gowalla. I would like to try Whrrl but it’s currently not available in the Australian App Store. I’ve been seeing a problem with these apps where they’re not regionalised and that really needs to be fixed. I think that the app should first ask the user which country they wish to view on setting it up, so that the local community can add their own categories. Over here we prefer to say "Petrol Station" instead of "Gas Station", and "Chemist" rather than "Pharmacy". there’s no reference to "Milkbars" or "Primary Schools". I’m also surprised that theres no mention of "Grocers" in Gowalla, Perhaps we’re all hipsters who live on fast food and coffee. Wolfie!
Linda Sherman Gordon says
@Wolfie_Rankin Thanks for weighing in on #geolocation from Australia. I’m currently in Kauai. Test driving Gowalla.