A recent trip to WNC got me thinking about why/how I do checking in. The rambling post below is what fell out.

I was a early adopter of the “checking in” idea with Brightkite(so much promise lost there). With Brightkite’s demise I looked to the next best thing which at the time was Gowalla. It allowed comments and picture posting, something foursquare still doesn’t do very well, and allowed me to meet my “why check-in” goals of:

  1. Have a history of where I had been and places I liked.
  2. Leave a trail for future visitors, providing useful tips, pictures and comments.
  3. Seeing what my friends were doing and to interact with them.
  4. And a bonus of getting cool badges.

Enter Google….

Google took an unfocused shotgun approach to the check-in idea with Latitude, Hotpot and now Google+. It never felt right, so I mostly ignored it, but now Google seems to be merging ideas and coming up with something interesting. Hotpot is gone and has become part of Places(places.google.com and the Places Android app.). Latitude can now check-in to spots(manually and automatically), post ratings, reviews and pictures. Pictures, ratings and reviews show up in Places and in public Google search results(this is important to me, will come back to it). Check-ins(via Latitude) are not public and posted to your Google profile(not G+) with limited sharing(Private list? I assume this is your Latitude friends). This leaves the outlier of Google+ check-ins. Which do show up in G+ and obey your normal Circle sharing rules. I’m not sure how Google plans to consolidate the two(Latitude, G+) check-in concepts(if ever).

This leaves me with what I’m planning to do. Stop using Gowalla and foursquare. Instead I’m going to rely on some combination of Latitude and G+ check-ins. Why? Latitude and G+ allow me to meet my “why check-in” goals better(easier with automatic check-ins) and probably more long term(Gowalla is more likely to go the way of Brightkite than Google is).

How does Latitude meet my goals:

  1. It keeps a history of my check-ins down to the minute, something Gowalla doesn’t do(or at least expose in the UI).
  2. Having my ratings, reviews and pictures from a spot show up in Places and Google search is huge for “leaving a trail for future visitors”. This was invaluable during my trip to WNC and what really got me thinking about this.
  3. I can see what my Latitude and G+ friends are doing(not that they use it much).
  4. Badges are overrated, but maybe Google will eventually “gameify” this a bit.

Issues…

  • Latitude and G+’s spot database is, surprisingly, no where near as good as Gowalla or foursquare and doesn’t have a way to add missing spots. Hopefully this will improve over time.
  • Cannot comment on check-ins in Latitude, but you can in G+.
  • I have less friends using Latitude and G+(for checking in).
  • Handing more data and services over to “the goog”.

The keepers of netiquette, have long fought over the correct way to reply to email, mailing list,forum, usenet, etc.. messages. Even though I almost always top or inline post, bottom posting is frequently expounded by digerati as the most appropriate and logical way to reply. Well this week I think I’ve come across what might be the definitive reason(at least for me) that top posting is in fact the one true way.

On a mailing list for a project I run, a list subscriber requested that replies sent to the list be top posted instead of bottom/inline. The subscriber happened to be vision impaired and it said that it was extremely difficult to follow a thread when his screen reader had to dig through all the extra/old text to find the new content in the reply.

So at least for me, until someone comes up with a screen reader that can deal with large amount of quoted text easily or somehow “skip to the content” in mail messages, I will stick with top posting and the rare occurrence that I need to inline post to clarify something.

/. has been teetering on the verge for a while, but a few articles posted today/this week officially put it’s status as “jumping the shark”. My home page is now changed. Goodbye /. it was good knowing ya. Anyone have a suggestion for a new home page?

The most heinous abuse of a signature I’ve yet seen. The names have been changed to protect the umm… gifted.

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Bouncing email messages that are infected has to be the stupidest thing ever.Repeat after me, “the From: address can be forged, the From: address can be forged……..”.