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Des Moines, Iowa


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Some things I'm working on in 2013

Geoff Wood

So, it’s 2013 and while I’ve never been much of a motivated-by-resolutions type of guy, I thought I’d give it a try this year. In all honesty, I couldn’t be happier that 2012 is over - that year was filled with loss, disappointment, injury and illness (some happy stuff, too, but that’s overshadowed in my current retrospective) - and I want to make the most of all that 2013 could be.

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My 2011 resolution: Add legitimate tips to foursquare

Geoff Wood

Dennis talks about how the idea for tips came about at Big Omaha

I'm a passionate user of the mobile application foursquare. I haven't done any research on it but I'm likely one of the top users in Des Moines (based on frequency of use and dedication to the intended use of the app, nothing more).

However, I've largely ignored the "tips" feature. It's been there since the beginning and I get notified of tips that my in-app friends have left all over town. Things like "You're at Chipotle, why don't you try a burrito?" or "The baristas at this coffee shop are the best". To be honest, most of the tips I've seen locally are so mundane or obvious they provide little value to the experience of using the app and I've always thought I would only be adding to the clutter.

A few weeks ago I was driving somewhere listening to a podcast of foursquare founder Dennis Crowley's panel discussion at Le Web in Paris in early December. It wasn't the first time I've heard Dennis speak; I've talked with him in person a couple times (whoa! name drop...well, kinda) and I was at his killer presentation at Big Omaha (see it here: Big Omaha Video Series: Dennis Crowley of foursquare) where he talked about the pretty much everything foursquare, including the tips feature.

For some reason, it wasn't until that Le Web talk that I finally understood what tips are supposed to be (to his credit - he said the same thing at Big Omaha, I just didn't get it). Prior to founding foursquare, Dennis was preparing to travel to Sweden. He made his itinerary public, showing a map of his planned trip to his friends via (see image above), and asking them for tips on what he should do. They responded with what he called an "amazing" list of things to do and experiences that he should have while he's there.

That's the genesis, and that's what tips are supposed to be! Rather than checking a Frommer's guide for the obvious, tips in foursquare should be an organic, crowd sourced (from the people you know) list of the cool things to do in your city that most folks wouldn't know about. That's great for new people to a city or folks just traveling it through but the tips technology also makes sense as a way to reveal those hidden things at our everyday locales and establishments that are just under our nose.

So, on to my resolution: I'm not only going to start using the tips functionality, but I'm going to add legitimate tips to it this year.(1)

"Legitimate" is obviously subjective in this case but I'm going to work on inputting whatever tribal knowledge (as Christian Renaud would say) that I have locally into the app, at least where/when it seems interesting or potentially useful. 

I started with what I thought were small, useful tips at my local coffee shop, Chinese takeaway place, and local bar:

After I get a few more of these under my belt, I'll move on to something more prolific and interesting to visitors. Probably.

What do you think, have you used tips on foursquare? What's the best tip you've found so far?

(1)My wife won't count this as a resolution since it's not a realistic and measurable goal. She's the Queen of actually holding to and benefiting from New Year's Resolutions.

New Year’s Resolutions 2009

Geoff Wood

My wife is the one who is big on New Year’s Resolutions in our family but this year I thought I’d go ahead a name a few for myself:

1. No Soda in January (possibly to extend to all of 2009)

I like soda. I love soda. I drink it – a lot. I tend to gravitate to one specific brand at a time. In college it was Diet Mountain Dew (I once taped a plea to the Pepsi machine at the fratter to have the delivery guy add it to vending options). After that it was Diet Dr. Pepper, then Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi, and for the last several years Coke Zero (it…is…awesome). Since I started graduate school more than 12 months ago, my intake has increased to unhealthy proportions. I’ve actually had medical professionals recommend knocking it off – my dentist every time I see her and my doctor at the pre-RAGBRAI physical last summer. I’m going to start with January and if it takes, I may extend it to the entire year.

Please note: I did not give up caffeine – I’m drinking more coffee than ever.

2. Smell Better

For the record, I don’t smell bad now. At least, I don’t think so and if I did I’m sure the wife would mention it (living with me and all). However, I’m sure that I could always smell better. I’ve never really been a cologne guy (other than a Hugo Boss experiment for awhile at the end of college) and I’m going to try it out for 2009. My mother-in-law gave me some cologne-like-stuff for Christmas and I like the smell so I’ll start there. Also, I’ve never been a “mints” guy, either, but due to the increase in coffee (see resolution #1) it might be a good thing idea to get out ahead of coffee breath. Anyone have good ideas for mints?

3. Networking 2.0, er, 1.0

Over the last few years I’ve become an avid user of social media/web 2.0 technologies such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I use them for different purposes, each of which is a little hard to describe. I like how Nathan Wright characterizes the difference at his blog: “…social networks like Facebook are great for connecting me to friends from my previous life, but Twitter connects me with people I should have known my whole life.” I use Facebook to check in on the lives of the people I’ve known from college, high school, and before, as well as coworkers and others that I’ve called my friends. I use Twitter to find interesting people that I’d like to know and learn from others that I’ll likely never meet. I use LinkedIn mostly as a professional resource to organize “official” contacts with colleagues, MBA classmates, and business partners.

On to the resolution, I’m planning to take these three web 2.0 technologies and roll them back to 1.0. My goal is to personally contact one of my connections from these social media services each week in 2009.  It may be an e-mail, a phone call, or an invitation to lunch, but I plan to do strengthen my networking ties with a little “old school”, er 1.0, direct contact.