Photo: Dan Frommer, Business Insider
Foursquare has a new algorithm called Explore which will recommend you new places to check out based on your history and the history of “people like you.”This is a big deal, because the promise of Foursquare has always been not just to help you share your location but to use that data to make recommendations and affect what people do. It’s also a great potential business — if Explore works, we’re sure plenty of restaurants and bars would pay to be at the top just like they might pay to be at the top of a Google search, which essentially fulfils the same function.
Foursquare’s engineering blog has a great post detailing how Explore came to be. Like so many great things, it started out with an engineer messing around. They then built a separate web app for Foursquare employees to test around and tweaked it until they liked it enough.
Pulling it off is a pretty big engineering task, because they need to pull in thousands of check-ins and map out the relations between them every time.
Even more interestingly, Explore doesn’t just give you places to visit, but why you should visit them: for example, how many of your friends have been there or how many times you’ve been there before, potentially making it even more compelling.