All about Location

September 16, 2011 · 7 comments

5-720-2652  stock photo of Sweden, Stockholm, Looking at the map

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!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Larissa Katayeva September 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Thank you, David! I discovered 4sq recently and by now it is my favorite – I discovered my city (Amsterdam) in a completely new “light”. Also now just simple trip to the supermarket is fun! 
I am taking photos, leaving tips at the places I check in. Started making Lists. Travel and meeting others is now taking a whole new dimension for me. 
Thank you for a nice article! 


2 Per-BKWine September 18, 2011 at 1:06 am

I haven’t tried 4sq so I don’t know exactly how it works. I only see the annoying tweets. The challenge, I guess, would be to integrate it with all the other pieces of the technology that would be needed to make it work smoothly. A bit like an app. We have lots of contents that could be really useful on a mobile app. But it requires some development and to do that it required some way to “monetise” it. And I don’t see that – at least not yet. This goes both for much of the things we write as well as for our photography.

Nevertheless, it is obvious that location is very important for the type of photography I do (and you too). This photo, for instance: is Ok as a “generic” stock photo, but if you know exactly in which vineyard it is then it has a much higher value (but also requiring a more specific sales effort).

So, location info is important and interesting. The location devices that you can hook on to a camera can do some of that (more obviously useful than 4sq to me). But that would still not be sufficient in my example above. It still requires a person to know exactly where that photo was take (and note it in the metadata) for it to be useful.

No doubt this may all become very important somehow in the future and it will be interesting to see how it will become practically useful.


3 David Sanger September 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm

so @weinfurtnerp:disqus (Pascal) are you planning to integrate Foursquare or another location platform (FB or Google) (or any online connection) alongside your map product or are you marketing it solely as a paper product?


4 David Sanger September 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm

@bkwine:disqus  The advantage I think for you Per would be that anyone checking in or in the vicinity of a winery or restaurant you covered could see your tips, reviews etc. Something like the list of spots to see in Paris you recently posted could be augmented by 4SQ entries so someone actually or near one of those spots could see your review eg.

And if you built a following on 4SQ as a brand then your lists tips and reviews would be part of their on-location experience.


5 Per-BKWine September 17, 2011 at 3:23 am

I’ll be very interested in where this reasoning takes you. I have yet to see anything else than twitter spam coming out of foursquare. (that is not to say that location information could not be important for travel journalists or photographers.) I’ll follow your discoveries with interest. (BTW Nice to have a Stockholm map as illustration! 😉 )


6 Anonymous September 17, 2011 at 1:02 am

I really love this article! Regarding this, I
also have an AWESOME TIP for you! I recently discovered special city maps…
Locals in cities all over the world share their insider tips on a HAND-DRAWN


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: