Friday, January 20, 2012


I wouldn't say I have a Foursquare addiction. Not like some people I know. I call these people "Badgers", and they know who they are. Sure, I go through phases where I'm feeling competitive and start compulsively checking in every place I go. Well, not every place... just the ones with an AT&T signal.

I may not be mayor, but my layover check-ins at MSP
weren't a complete waste of time.
Aside from the obvious rewards of points and badges, what do I really get from all those check-ins? Well, sometimes I get discounts and special offers from the businesses I check into. But it's rarely ever anything worthwhile. While at the Minneapolis Airport I saw that the mayor gets a free hat. The mayor. Of the airport. Gets a hat.

Now that I think about it, I was picturing a tacky trucker's cap embroidered with the MSP Airport tagline: "Going Your Way". But what if it was a fedora? Or a sombrero? Or a hat in the shape of a Boeing 737, complete with wings that extend well beyond the territorial boundaries defined by the arm rests of my center seat? Now that would be worth it!

Sorry to dissapoint the frequent flyers, but odds are the mayor of any airport is going to be the guy waving flashlights on the tarmac, or the woman who drives the disabled and elderly to their gates while simultaneously solidifying her stranglehold on Cinnabon and Sbarro.

Granted, it's not a very manly shot,
but badgers can't be choosers
and I never look a gift dog in the mouth.

Then there's Starbuck's notorious foray into Foursquare offers where the mayor got a $1 discount on a Frappuccino. Hold me back.

Not all 4sq rewards suck, however. My favorite local barbecue joint gives me a free shot just for checking in.

And just this week I discovered another cool reward for all those check-ins. I get to see my geographical history. (Okay, it's more cool than actually rewarding.)

Thanks to Foursquare, I now leave a viscous digital trail like some sort of slimy cyber-snail.

After giving the mashup site Where Do You Go permission to access my 4sq data, it builds a heat map layer of my badgering exploits on top of Google Maps. Along with an oddly gratuitous No Mercy music video, the far more interesting attraction is a visualization of my physical trace in the world.

Even though I live in a major city, I'm a little surprised by how parochial I am. Seeing this makes me think I need to venture outside of my comfort zone more often and really go exploring. Not just my city, but the U.S.A. and the entire world.

With very little time off, all my traveling has been centered around family.
You can see where JB's family and my family are based.

Just one weekend trip to Brussels a year ago. My current job is keeping me from
visiting my friends in Europe. I wish this map could show every place I've ever been,
not just my Foursquare check-ins.