Saturday, February 13, 2010

Foursquare & Buzz: Building Community or Too Close for Comfort?

I recently started playing with two newish social media applications, Foursquare and Google Buzz. Foursquare is an iphone app where you "check in" to different places when you visit them. If you are the first to check in, or you check in the greatest number of times, you can become the mayor of that location.

The mayor of my local Starbucks is @KevinPalmer a social media blogger who I follow on Twitter. He lives just a few blocks away from me. I DM'd him and suggested we meet for coffee (at his Starbucks of course).

Google Buzz is a new Twitter like service that is integrated into Gmail. The iphone app can show me who is buzzing near me; it will even give me their approximate street address.

The idea that social media applications like Foursquare and Buzz could connect me to people in my neighborhood is exciting, but also pushes my privacy boundaries. I live in a pretty urban suburb of a big northeastern city. I know a few of my neighbors, but not too many. I don't usually say hello to strangers on the street.

These might be great tools for my community, but they also scare me a bit. For the most part I've gotten over my fear of making virtual connections. I remember when that was pretty terrifying. Now it is just a way of life. Maybe the logical next step is to bring those virtual connections full circle, back to the real world. That is still a little outside of my comfort zone, but I'm willing to give it a try.

What do you think?