Sunday, March 27, 2011

What is Foursquare good for anyway? or Hey, how did “they” get us to carry tracking devices with us anyway?

Huxley rolls in his grave
George Orwell would be proud of Foursquare. It makes being tracked and analyzed constantly by a faceless corporate bureaucracy fun and easy!

Well, to be true to established dystopian visions, Aldous Huxley would be proud. For anyone out there who hasn’t read Brave New World, stop reading my inane dribble and go read it... NOW!

Okay now that you are back, you can see how a world based around strict social classes, powerful drugs, ubiquitous sex and cheap consumer technology might look a little bit like modern America. Huxley and Orwell would probably be shocked at how little we learned from their novels and how we actually seemed to have emulated the societies that they created to serve as warnings for us.

Foursquare is clearly building up a massive profile of all their users with plans to monetize that information anyway they can. So maybe the goals of Foursquare and the Telescreen in 1984 aren’t exactly the same, but both the pursuit of totalitarian control and unadulterated corporate profits seem to be shaping similar passive and civically illiterate societies.

Foursquare sends you a window cling!
Despite my philosophical objections to this willing abdication of privacy, I do use Foursquare. I have heard stories from friends flying into cities where they thought they didn’t know anyone, only to look at their smartphone and see that someone they knew happened to be in the same city on business. Score one for Foursquare.

Another advantage of using Foursquare: Free drinks! If I become mayor of The Blue Star Cafe (across the street) I get a free drink. w00t.

Isn’t it hilarious that small and symbolic prizes we can brag to our friends about on the internet are now motivating us to go out and spend money when according to conventional economic theory, my desire for food and the money in my wallet should be the only factors I consider? Again, score one for Foursquare.

Who knows, maybe the next time you “check in” at the Magnuson home (yes I really did create a venue for our apartment) you might win a prize.

Not bloody likely.

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