Just before lunch I took part in ‘What the Foursquare’ (more in my previous post), which took the form of a hustings, whereby we each had 2 mins to put forward our given argument, and persuade the audience to pass our motion. Ringmaster Hammersley was unable to join the proceedings, so Russell Davies – who first inspired the whole thing in his talk at last year’s Playful – stepped in to officiate.
First up was the talented genius responsible for half the interwebs – Mr Phil Gyford. He set the bar pretty high with an eloquent and witty plea for why we shouldn’t check in at home. He’s posted up his speech, and I urge you to check it out (not least because it contains the awesome phrase ‘We did not build this country on willy nilly!‘). Unsurprisingly, the motion passed with a resounding yes.
Next up was gaming goddess Paulina Bozek, who made a very convincing argument for why we should be able to check in on buses – not least because surely, if there’s a badge for being on a boat, she should be allowed to check in on the 371? It was a close call, but it was a tough crowd, and the audience decreed that no, checking in on buses should not be allowed.
Then it was my turn. Truth be told, I had the easiest job, as I think my motion was pretty much commonly agreed as bloody annoying behaviour before I even started, so I was pushing at an open door.
I didn’t prepare such a beautifully wordsmithed talk as Phil, but here’s the gist of my argument of why autotweeting your Foursquare checkins is evil and must be stopped:
Why do we follow people on Twitter? We follow them because they’re they’re friends who we want to keep up with, they’re particularly interesting, funny, or give good link. We keep them in our stream, because they offer value.
I don’t know about you, but if someone in my stream was tweeting the minutiae of their day, telling me what they were doing at any given time, I wouldn’t find that especially valuable. Why should your followers give a shit that you’re at Starbucks. The fact that you’re now the mayor of Chariots Roman Spa isn’t hugely exciting (although, saying that, salacious locations may be the exception!). I don’t give a crap that you’ve been ousted as mayor of your gym. I highly doubt the rest of your followers do either. My personal favourite though is the ‘I’m off the grid’ autotweet. If you don’t want anyone to know where you are, why the hell are you broadcasting your checkin to your followers?!
See, if we want to know where you are, we can follow you on Foursquare. It’s almost as though the app were designed for that purpose – crazy, huh? And if I want to be alerted to where you are at any given time, there’s this fantastic piece of functionality within Foursquare that enables me to ‘turn pings on’, and the app will push out a message to let me know where you’ve checked in. And equally, if I’ve turned pings off, that’s because I don’t want to be actively alerted to your location.
But when you push this out to Twitter, it’s all or nothing. I either have all your stream, checkins included, or I unfollow you. And if you’re my friend, or you’re fantastically funny or interesting, or you give great link and keep me up to date with brilliant videos of cute kittens, then I don’t want to unfollow you. That makes me sad. But I don’t like spam. Unless you’re adding some really fascinating description by way of providing context to the tweet, where’s the value? If we want to know where you are we’ll follow you on Foursquare. If I’ve turned pings off, it’s for a reason. Respect this choice – and stop polluting your – and consequently my – stream with spammish checkins.
Keep Twitter good. Keep the signal to noise ratio up. Ladies and gentlemen, I beg you, to please stop autotweeting your checkins.
Like I said, I was pushing at an open door. The motion passed unanimously.
DanW then rounded off the session with an awesome and rousing call to ban the drive-by checkin – which I’m pretty sure also passed, although I got distracted by the laptop by the side of the stage with Rattle’s fantastic ‘Did you have a nice day?‘ live Playful monitor.
And lo, and thus it was decided on the twenty-fourth of September, two thousand and ten, the audience hath spoken and it shall become LAW.