Location-sharing has been a UbiComp topic for over 20 years, but services like foursquare and Gowalla have been taking off only recently in comparison. Tech and commercial aspects, including the proliferation of mobile devices of course play a role here, but most popular location-sharing services also have an interaction model different from most early research systems. They use manual ‘check-ins’ to pair user location with semantically named venues (rather than tracking), they mix public and private sharing with venues being visible to all users, location is shared with a potentially very large audience via multiple social media channels, and they employ incentives such as gamification elements and discounts.
As part of our location-sharing research, we’ve been taking a ‘performative’ view on check-ins on foursquare, and explore how these specific design elements facilitate emergent, and sometimes conflicting, social norms (not) to check-in. Read more in our MobileHCI’11 paper here.
Interested mostly in gamification elements? Shorter paper ‘Gamification and location-sharing: some emerging social conflicts’ presented at the Gamification workshop at CHI’11 here.