I have been playing quite a bit lately with Foursquare, the location-aware social media platform, and am quite intrigued by the implications and opportunities for travelers, travel journalists, destinations and brands in the travel industry. The first movement in mobile computing was freeing the device from the stationary desktop so that we could “connect” while moving around. The second movement now is for our device to be aware of where we are at all times, so that the information and actions available to us relate directly to where we are in space and time.
Foursquare makes a game of it by allowing people to check in and accumulate points and badges. The more powerful theme, however, is to make available to users specific information depending on exactly where they are. On a city street? Here’s a map. In a restaurant? Here’s the menu. At a scenic spot? Here’s the history, and here’s some photo tips. At a train station? The next train is in x minutes. Been here often? 10% discount.
The consequence of this is that with location awareness we travel through an internet of places, rather than just look things up from afar. Venues such as restaurants are already using location awareness to offer specials or reward loyalty, if the user is interested. Travel journalists and publications too must begin thinking about providing information to users directly on location, of having a point of presence in real-space so that users can read, learn and share, right there. As this capability rolls out there will no doubt be many creative and ingenious applications which will significantly change how and where we interact as travelers.
As an example I have just set up the first of a series of location-aware travel photography tips “Top 5 places to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge” along with a blog post describing the list and how it works.
If you have thoughts or experience as a travel writer or photographer using location-aware platforms, please add your comments below. See you there!