Foursquare 5.0: Discovery and Recommendation

June 24th, 2012

I’ve been using the upgraded version of the foursquare iOS app for the past couple weeks, and have definitely been curious about what it means for foursquare’s overall direction.

There’s more depth within the news feed – before, opening the app simply displayed a list of your friends and their recent checkin. It halfway felt like a news feed, but the checkin was the only data you were presented with. Now, you can see new friendships, tips being left, as well as back-to-back checkins. At first I found this annoying, but after getting used to it, the app feels more dynamic and real-time. The design also now matches the website more closely – especially with font choices.

While there’s obvious value to be had from an enterprise level by looking at everyone’s data on the whole, for me as a user, better recommendations are the most exciting prospect of foursquare’s future. When you look at the “Explore” tab, you’re presented with a stream of potential places. These can range from nearby venues that have a large number of current checkins, venues your friends frequently visit, and venues that fit a certain category (shopping, dinner , etc).

While this is great, I’d love to see even more advanced recommendations that lean heavily on what you’ve done in the past.

For me, the holy grail of foursquare lies in this potential:

Here’s where you’ve been, so based on the time and date, as well as what your friends are doing, here’s the one best thing you should do right now.

They’ve taken a large step in this direction and I can’t wait to see what’s next.



Windows 8: Trying to be Everything to Everyone?

March 3rd, 2012

Last night, I finally downloaded and checked out the Windows 8 Consumer Preview in a virtual machine. I’ve been interested to see where Microsoft’s heading with Metro UI integration and was pretty pumped to grease the wheels.

I wasn’t irrecoverably disappointed, but I wasn’t blown out of the water.

The experience between a desktop and a tablet isn’t the same, and I think Windows 8 is trying to be everything to every device. It might have partially been the performance of the virtual machine I was running, but some of the gestures (dragging down from the top of the screen, exiting Metro apps, etc.) just weren’t intuitive with a mouse and keyboard. And yeah, you can switch back to Windows Explorer, but switching between two completely different modes shouldn’t even be necessary.

Much more conducive for touch instead of click.

I guess this comes down to the philosophy of differences in hardware – I’m not sold on the model of having one operating system for desktop and tablet. This is where I think Apple got it right with the breakdown between iOS and OS X. It’s a seamless enough experience, but they’re also different enough. And yes, the gap between those differences eventually needs to narrow, but the release cycle is doing that incrementally, not all at once.

That said, I’m excited about the potential for Windows 8 on a tablet. I’ve never used it on a tablet yet, but I can see things making a lot more sense in that form factor. I like Metro UI and I like Microsoft’s intentions, I just think they need to draw the line between desktop and tablet a little clearer.

Thoughts? Have you used Windows 8 on a tablet before?

Start Norfolk

November 28th, 2011

I had the awesome opportunity this month to be a speaker and judge at Start Norfolk – Hampton Roads’ successful attempt at a Startup Weekend-type event. I met the organizer, Zack Miller, at LessConf in Atlanta back in February, and things moved forward from there.

The experience

Photo Credit: Paul Chin, Jr.

If you’re unfamiliar with the model, people pitched ideas on Friday night, then formed teams based on the ideas that were chosen to be developed. All during Saturday and Sunday, teams were hard at work making as much progress as possible, and that progress was shared to the judging panel on Sunday night when we picked a winner. A variety of speakers also gave talks throughout the weekend; mine was focused on my opinion of the correct way to go about doing a startup (touching on pitching, team, funding, and location).

Speaking was a blast, and I can say that as good of a time the judging process was, it was tough. There was no shortage of great ideas and no shortage of impressive executions, and while we ultimately had to narrow the field, my recommendation to everyone is to keep working on your idea, even if you didn’t get chosen or didn’t win.

So what does this mean for Norfolk?

For one, I was incredibly moved by their startup community. Most people wouldn’t initially associate technology entrepreneurs with Norfolk, Virginia, but I can wholeheartedly say that there’s tons of talent and passion. Even on opening night when people were pitching ideas, the energy and enthusiasm in the room was arguably higher than you’d see in Atlanta. There’s so much potential, and it was honestly a bit of an emotional experience for me seeing everyone come together.

And I know this is only the beginning. Drinks Downtown is looking to be an awesome way to bring the community together on a regular basis, a great coworking space exists in 757 Creative Space, and I’ve heard buzz about a second Start Norfolk. Not to mention that the awesome work that We Are Titans is doing proves both the need and opportunity for technology companies in the area. I get the feeling that I’ll be back soon.

Put on for yo’ city!