I wrote about a really cool new feature on Foursquare today, called it “must-have,” and now am seeing a fair amount of cynical backlash. People get upset when you get excited about Foursquare – they think it’s overhyped, they want to see less coverage of it, less effusive coverage of it, more critical coverage, more discretion over what we tech bloggers get breathlessly excited about so that they the readers needn’t be bothered by anything but the rare, guaranteed win that they must pay attention to.
Well that’s not how it works, folks. We get excited, I get excited, about potential. About early startups that are opening our eyes to new possibilities for utility and value creation. I don’t know which ones will work out long-term and I don’t really care. When I write about technologies, I write about what they do for me and what I like about them.
Note that one commenter below makes a good counter-argument.
The feature I wrote about today is a simple button that website owners can embed that launches a pop-up to add visiting a location as a “to-do” item on your Foursquare account. That means that when ever a user checks-in at a location near by the location of that to-do item, they will receive a pop-up notification on their phone.
Isn’t that incredible? It’s like online annotation of the off-line world! I love it! It’s nothing super complicated, in fact it seems rather obvious in retrospect (a Foursquare button like the Tweetmeme button, etc.) but I hadn’t thought of such a thing, had you?
I get excited about things like this – and I blog largely for myself. I don’t care if only a few million people use Foursquare, I don’t care if it is unappealing to many more people, I don’t care (ok, I really do care) if the app is inflexible, crashy and frustrating. If the CEO seems smug, if Gowalla is prettier and if it’s a pain to pull out your phone and check-in when you arrive someplace. All of those things are relevant – but today the company launched an awesome new feature (and version 2.0 of its iPhone app, though that’s of less interest to me, to be honest) and I think it’s awesome.
I write for myself, even on ReadWriteWeb, because I like what I like. Fortunately, enough other people get excited about the same things I do that the readers come and the checks clear. But at least most of the time, I’m writing about things that I find of interest, whether readers will or not. Perhaps that’s not entirely true, but some things are so interesting to me that I don’t care if there are loud voices telling me it’s really not interesting.
And I think a social network of people registering their location around the world, complete with annotations and push notifications, I think that’s super cool. If you don’t think it’s interesting, maybe you should just skip those articles. If people want me to spend some time thinking real hard and writing really critically about Foursquare in particular, I could do that (maybe I should some time) – but I’m still going to write with excitement about the things I’m excited about.
In fact, earlier this month I exchanged emails with several of the people at Foursquare concerning statements that founder Dennis Crowley made that I was just about ready to slam him for. But upon reading his clarifying remarks in response to my email, and upon talking to other people with a diversity of opinions about the matter, I decided there wasn’t really a story there. I was ready to be critical of the company, though.
But today? I’m really excited about what they are doing!