Foursquare unveiled “Lists” yesterday, allowing users to curate and publicize, well, lists of locations. This may be a beneficial new feature, allowing users to gain street cred listing a handful of hidden eateries, rather than be defined by the twelve Starbucks check-ins a day. On a more serious note, it makes more use of Foursquare’s existing “to-do” feature, organizing users’ wishlists of things to do and places to visit front and center for both users and their friends.
These lists also serve a basic organizational function that’s been a challenge of every social media site: how to separate the chaff from the wheat, the clutter from the value. Much like Twitter’s lists sought to solve the problem of overwhelming streams, Foursquare’s lists can cut through the clutter of “everyday” check-ins to those that actually matter to a user. Sure, your stream might be full of check-ins to your workplace, but your visit to the neighborhood bistro is what really resonated. Foursquare recognizes this function already, highlighting every place you’ve left a tip (i.e. cared enough to comment on) in an automatic list.
More importantly, however, the service also allows thought-leaders to make better use of their check-ins to influence and inform others. Before lists, you could stalk individuals or trend-setting publications like Eater, Thrillist or Bon Appetit for their check-ins and tips. Now, thought-leaders can re-add value to the waning Foursquare, giving users a real reason to check in and use the app as a decision-making tool, not just a fun game. Eater has already published a handful of lists highlighting their “top 38” in a handful of US cities.
These lists will be useful, and I’ve already started checking off the places I’ve been in Eater38 Los Angeles. However, in addition to the inevitable flurry of “Best Burritos,” “Tastiest Drinks,” and “ZOMG nomz” lists that are going to crop up, here are five I’d like to see:
1. The Longest Lines I’ve Stood In
The DMV, Pink’s Hot Dogs, and any water park between the months of May and September. Based on sheer amount of time spent fiddling on smartphones at these locations, we should see check-ins through the roof.
2. Places I Been and Didn’t Check Into
One of the interesting phenomena of the internet is that while we can check into everywhere and everything (thanks, GetGlue), we don’t. The internet, while it seems like a conduit for TMI, is actually, selective TMI: we overshare, but pick and choose what we overshare. For example, someone will check into every sushi place and vintage record store they pass, but keep the McDonald’s and Wal-Mart visits off the radar. I’d like to see an honest Foursquare list of all those places that didn’t quite fit into someone’s online persona.
3. Places I’ve Checked Into and Didn’t Actually Go To
We know you’re just doing it for the points.
4. Prime People Watching
This is one that could get a lot of use. Instead of things to blog about, how about a list that encourages us to get our face out of the smartphone and interact with our fellow man.
5. Worst Bathrooms
Because these kinds of things are important.