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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 flickr.com (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.

The Summer of Change, Part 3: Des Moines: Hell Yes!

Geoff Wood

So, as mentioned in the last post, Hope has been accepted into this fall’s class at Drake University’s Law School and that means we’re headed to Des Moines in just a few days.

Despite my aforementioned affection for Omaha, things are happening in Des Moines, too. I’ve kept an eye on the social media community from afar and I like what I’m seeing. I’ve also kept up with the local business news for some time and I’ve read about some good things. I’m not sure the entrepreneurial community is as organized as Omaha but I’m happy to jump in and find out.

The biggest singular reason for choosing Des Moines is that it’s home: my brother & sister-in-law, sister, Aunt, Uncle, and several cousins are all in the area and Hope’s family is much closer in Eastern Iowa. It will be great for Graham to have family around as he grows up (and great for us to have help in caring for him). We have lots of friends in town and many of them have young children. We’ll be a mere 30 minutes from Ames which means we’ll actually get to use those football tickets we bought for the fall and probably make a basketball game or two.

As the t-shirt says: Des Moines: Hell Yes.

Iowa Affirms Rights for Samesex Marriage

Geoff Wood

For an expatriate Iowan(1), I think that I keep up on the news back home better than most. However, I missed the fact that the Iowa Supreme Court was set to issue it's decision regarding a challenge to state's ban on samesex marriage last Friday.


Thanks to the magic of the Interwebs, I was fully up to speed within a few minutes of logging on that morning. It started through Twitter, where there were a plethora of posts announcing that the Supreme Court's website had been over-trafficed and brought down prior to the decision being announced. Over the next several hours the site was restored and news sites like the Des Moines Register reported that news that the gay marriage ban had been (unaminously) overturned.

I don't want to get too far into the politics here so I'll just say I was pleased with the ruling.

I was more than a bit surprised at the positive reaction to the news throughout my social networks. The buzz was all over Twitter and Facebook. Tweets and status updates were littered with posts boasting pride in Iowa's progressive decision and the example that it has set for the nation. 

When it comes to politics, Iowa and it's "first in the nation" status is prominently featured at the beginning of each Presidential Election. Otherwise, we don't get a lot of notoriety - except for decisions like these.

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Grostal and State House Speaker Pat Murphy issued a joint press release applauding the decision that also featured other progressive moves the state has made in its history:

Iowa has always been a leader in the area of civil rights. 

In 1839, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected slavery in a decision that found that a slave named Ralph became free when he stepped on Iowa soil, 26 years before the end of the Civil War decided the issue. 

In 1868, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that racially segregated “separate but equal” schools had no place in Iowa, 85 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision. 

In 1873, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled against racial discrimination in public accommodations, 91 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision. 

In 1869, Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women to the practice of law. 

In the case of recognizing loving relationships between two adults, the Iowa Supreme Court is once again taking a leadership position on civil rights.

Great job, Iowa. 

(1)Well, kind of, sometimes Indiana seems like an entirely different country.

63rd Annual Indiana University Business Conference

Geoff Wood

Cross posted with the Kelley School of Business "BizBlog"


I had the pleasure of attending the 63rd Annual Indiana University Business Conference put on by our very own Kelley School. This was my second time attending the conference and I was a little concerned that this year's event wouldn't live up to my expectations after last year's great event that featured presentations by the CEO's of FedEx Corporation, Simon Property Management, The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Langham Logistics as well as Indiana University President Michael McRobbie and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels - but it did.

At first blush, this year's speakers didn't jump out at me as the same level of "household names" as before. However, that doesn't mean that they (and their companies) weren't impressive or didn't provide equal or greater value to those of us in attendance - they certainly did.

These year's lineup included Susan Dentzer, Editor-in-Chief of Health Affairs, Bill McKibben, Environmentalist, Amory Lovins, Co-founder and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, Michael Evans, Founder and President of AIT Laboratories, Douglas Lattner, Chairman and CEO of Deloitte Consulting and Michael Rippey, President of ArcelorMittal USA.

The moderator and keynote speaker was New York Times Columnist David Brooks (who is a household name, despite what I mentioned earlier) was amusing, informative and insightful in his discussion of political leadership in the midst of this economic crisis. He offered behind-the-scenes stories and personal impressions of both President Obama and the second President Bush that put into perspective how I view those in power.

As good as Mr. Brooks keynote was, my favorite presentation was actually by Mr. Lovins, whose physical appearance matches his title of "Chief Scientist" but his communication skills do not. His presentation was quite understandable for the non-technical 50,000 foot decision makers in the room as well as compelling in its arguments (such as the value in automotive and aviation companies switching from steel to carbon fiber for construction materials).

In a first for me, I attempted to keep a running Twitter account of the goings on throughout the day and was joined in by others hailing from the Bloomington and IU East campuses (click here for the archive at #kelleyconf).

I would strongly recommend that any Kelley student, especially those of us evening MBA candidates who have lost our continuing education budgets in our full time jobs, take full advantage of the no-cost or low-cost opportunities provided for learning of this kind. The next one is coming up quickly - register now for the IU Entrepreneurial Connection event in Bloomington on March 27th.

Click below for posts on Social Media Fanatic about the event: