Photo: O’Reilly Conferences
Foursquare has just released “add to Foursquare” buttons, the first of a series of major changes that will make the location-based social network more like what its founders originally envisioned.The buttons can be embedded in bar and restaurant reviews, or anywhere else on the web. These buttons let people add venues or tips to their “to-do lists” from inside these third-party sites.
The “add to Foursquare” button might not sound like a huge deal, but it is. Founder and CEO Dennis Crowley tells us: “This is the reason Foursquare was started.”
From the beginning, the idea has been to “change the way we explore physical space,” says Crowley. Part of what that means is that Foursquare shouldn’t just record where you go, it should influence where you go.
If the buttons become widespread, it will make it easy for people to make a note of places that interest them on the fly, and be reminded of them when they actually want to go there.
When Foursquare starts doing more with background location, probably by the end of this year, the service will be able to ping users whenever they walk near a location they’ve marked down to visit later.
For Foursquare itself, the new buttons offer a lot of the same benefits that Facebook gets out of its “like” buttons: web publishers have an incentive to put Foursquare’s brand on their sites, and users have an incentive to stay logged in to and engaged with Foursquare even when they aren’t actively using it.
The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, several cities’ editions of Time Out, and others are already signed up to use the buttons in at least some of their reviews. The Times, at least, will be using it selectively at first to test how it does. But if it is a success, and these buttons start cropping up all over the web, it could be terrific exposure for the startup.
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