Streams

Scott Lamb

Senior editor, BuzzFeed

Scott Lamb appears in the following:

Where you at? Foursquare maps it out

Friday, April 03, 2009

There’s a new web tool that’s getting a lot of buzz right now called Foursquare. It's a program that encourages you to “check in” with the system whenever you go to an interesting – or mundane! – place with your cell phone. This sends an alert to your friends telling them where you are and what you are doing. It may sound like that other tool that is hogging the news feed these days – Twitter – but it’s not. There are no pithy comments or creativity required. You just passively check in and all your friends find out. But our friend and blogger, Scott Lamb, thinks this simple act of finding out what people are doing also makes the world a better place. He is the senior editor at Buzzfeed and he joins us to discuss this new trend.

For more, read Scott Lamb's blog post, The absurd satisfaction of playing Foursquare.
Related:
The absurd satisfaction of playing foursquare
Playing with radio: Behind the scenes of The Takeaway's "Where are you?" game
What are you doing right now?
The thrill of checking in with our listeners

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The absurd satisfaction of playing Foursquare

Friday, April 03, 2009

When I try to explain to people that I'm really into four square these days, I get a lot of blank looks. That's the natural reaction, given that most people's first association is of course to think of the schoolyard game. And sure, that's good fun, but I haven't played it in probably 15 years. The Foursquare I'm referring to is a kind of game, and a kind of social networking service -- and yes, you can score points, but that's only part of the fun.

Foursquare, from the same programmers who created the much loved and now closed service Dodgeball (they have a thing for games), is a mobile social networking game -- you "check in" from wherever you are, either using their iPhone app or via text message, and it lets your friends know where you are and what you're doing. This is useful enough as it is, and joins the growing ranks of location services like Loopt and Google Latitude that are all about broadcasting where you are and keeping track of your movements. Instead of connecting people through friends of friends, these networks connect people through what they do and where they go. Rather than learning about you by reading your list of favorite movies, I can find out what your favorite bars are, and how you spend a Saturday afternoon. Foursquare adds another element to this interaction, though: You get points for your check ins, and badges for reaching certain achievements; for instance, the Bender Badge is awarded if you check in more than four times in a row in any given week.

The points don't get you anything, except for the respect and admiration of other Foursquare users. There's a leaderboard you can check out from your iPhone, which ranks you against your friends and other people in your city (so far, the service is available in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, LA, Minneapolis, NYC, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC). Since each check in means points, there's an incentive to check in with every little thing you do -- it gets addictive quickly. At the deli? Better check in! Waiting at the bus stop? Let the world know about it! Like the absurd mundanity of Twitter, Foursquare encourages broadcasting the small stuff, letting people know where you went for lunch. And that's exactly the appeal -- get to know what I do, and you'll get to know who I am. And there's an undeniable joy at finding yourself near the top of the week's leaderboard. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go check in -- I'm trying to earn some points here.

You can check in, too -- The Takeaway's playing a game with your morning routine, and you can revel in the glory of winning points by calling in to 1-877-8-MY-TAKE, by emailing us at mytake@thetakeaway.org or by leaving a comment. Let us know the insane and incredibly mundane things you're up to. Instructions are here.

Scott Lamb is a senior editor at BuzzFeed. Related:
Where you at? Foursquare maps it out
Playing with radio: Behind the scenes of The Takeaway's "Where are you?" game
What are you doing right now?
The thrill of checking in with our listeners
Read More

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A few things about 25 things about me

Monday, February 16, 2009

Facebook's phenomenon, "25 Things About Me," is a lot like a chain letter but without the curse. Scott Lamb, editor of Buzzfeed.com joins The Takeaway to deconstruct the web's latest social networking trend.

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"8 Things I Wish I Didn't Know" (An internet craze from The Takeaway and BuzzFeed)

Monday, February 16, 2009

The 25 Random Things phenomenon that took over Facebook in early '09 is waning, in part because it's the nature of viral memes to slow down over time, in part because, well, it was getting a little irritating. To anyone who spends much time online, the 25 Random Things idea is as old as time, or at least as old as the heyday LiveJournal. We've all either received clueless email chain letter forwards from friends, or, let's be honest, forwarded them ourselves, and the idea that such a lame part of digital culture has morphed its way into the walled garden of Facebook is somehow galling. Earnestness tends to take a beating online, and 25 Random Things is nothing if not earnest. Earnest, and not particularly amusing, either.

But now that it's happened once, it's more likely to happen again. Already a host of similar chain notes have appear in the wake of 25 Random Things -- Google 8 Ball, Random iTunes Answers, One Word Answers -- that you can expect to be clogging up your News Feed for some time to come. They're variations on a theme: Numbered lists that give you a chance to reveal tidbits of yourself in a canned way, seemingly risk-free and somewhat pat, if also occasionally illuminating and even sweet. Plus, they tend to be kind of long and time-consuming to write (even, weirdly, the One Word Answers).

So let's try starting a new one, something shorter, easier, less earnest and possibly way more interesting. Feel free to grab the idea and post your own notes -- let's see if we can make this one take off.

8 Things I Wish I Didn't Know

Rules: Share 8 things you wish you'd never learned, heard, seen, tasted or smelled or otherwise came to know. Then tag 8 people whose 8 worst things you'd like to know, too.

1. Learned: Exactly how a hot dog gets created.

2. Seen: Al Pacino in "The Devil's Advocate."

3. Tasted: Swedish blood sausage.

4. Learned: How you get rid of an eye worm.

5. Smelled: The reek that comes with cleaning out a rat's nest.

6. Heard: The sound a human body makes when it hits the ground from a great height.

7. Seen: The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after midnight.

8. Heard: The failed campaign song "Hillary 4 U and Me" -- that's nothing against Hillary or her campaign, I just really wish I had never heard that song. Even writing this now, the tune just appeared in my head again.

OK, your turn!

Scott Lamb is a senior editor at BuzzFeed.
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