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‘Add to Foursquare’ buttons are the first step on the road to location-aware news

June 14, 2010

Foursquare rolled out new “Add to Foursquare” buttons today on WSJ.com and while they’re awesome, they’re potentially just a hold-over until true location-aware news can be perfected.

“Hyperlocal” has been the mantra of news organizations jumping into new media during the last few years and LBS is perhaps the ultimate realization of that vision. What we’re trying to do with hyperlocal news is give people the most relevant information for where they are (e.g. Ballard rather than all of Seattle). Where people are, though is increasingly random and mobile. Whereas five years ago I got my news through a computer—probably a desktop, meaning anchored in a specific place—I can now get news through my phone (meaning wherever I am). What that’s done is shift my news consumption from What’s been going on in my neighborhood? to What’s going on right now, where I am?

I’ve talked before about using Foursquare to, essentially, litter your stories across a virtual-geographic area and that’s what the aim has to be for this Foursquare-WSJ trial. It’s a really cool idea, but extrapolate it a couple of years (if that) out: Imagine holding up your phone to snap a picture and having a little Foursquare flag pop up saying, “Hey, did you know XYZ about this building you’re looking at?” It’s perhaps as close as journalists could ever possibly get to physically embedding themselves in people’s social streams. And for the consumer, it would be the most personalized form of news delivery possible: news and information for where and when you are, right now.

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