Foursquare Is Powerful Enough to Cure Insomnia and Depression

So  I’ve been toying around with Silicon Valley’s latest toy Foursquare. I realize geolocation services are going to become very big this year as mobile and social become more common. But sometimes I wonder how carried away evangelists can get sometimes.

Anyhoo, I haven’t seriously used Foursquare but have been intruiged by its usage – it seems a lof of people on Twitter love to use the service and tell everybody that they became Mayor of Casterbridge or some such place. Harmless fun I suppose.

So I decided to see how useful this service could be. Does it have a place in health care? How can Foursquare be re-purposed for more utilitarian goals beyond telling friends what watering hole you’re Mayor of? (See note below this post.)

What if you could “check into” emotional places or disease states? (Yes, I like taking it to the absurd.) Foursquare doesn’t let you do that – not for very long at least. I can see how spam could become an issue for Foursquare (I’m probably not the only joker doing these sort of things). So here’s what I did: I added the items Insomnia and Clinical Depression and linked to them on Twitter. A few hours later, Foursquare removed (or “closed”) these places. Here are screenshots:

So wow! Foursquare could end Insomnia and Clinical Depression! Score one for Social Media!!!

I’m all for using social media for all sorts of things. And I’m sure Foursquare has its uses. But I also sense that social media mania may be getting out of hand. I wonder if the majority of the adopters of these servcies have a clear purpose in mind before they adopt them. Or are they just adopting them because they exist, with some getting lucky in finding purpose after?

What do you think? Do you use Foursquare? How do you use it?


On a more serious note, I’d like to add that perhaps we could take some inspiration from this sarcastic use of Foursquare – along the lines of a service which enables people with similar issues (diseases, practical problems, political affiliations, industries, etc.). A sort of mashup of Twitter and Foursquare and Yelp and Get Satisfaction.

Foursquare is based on one simple piece of meta-data – geolocation. It’s the primary social object around which all other social objects and behaviors and meta-data orbit.

But there are all kinds of meta-data. Think about that, developers.

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks for directing me to this post, Phil. I look forward to your upcoming post you mentioned via Twitter. I have read of increasing Fourquare and Gowalla exposure in healthcare; I’m very interested to see how this can impact health and wellness. I’m not a location-based social network user myself, but I do love your “absurd” thoughts. I plan to post my thoughts this week, linking to you. Would love to think of absurdity with you if you’re ever interested. 🙂

  2. Phil,

    Great post. I haven’t used foursquare, although I get the idea. I think you’re on to something.

    Foursquare is about creating context, in this case spacial context. A logical extension would be to check in to other types of contexts. Maybe you are working on a project and you want other people in the organization to know that you’re “there” and see what you’re doing. What other types of work products (or mental states) could provide context?

    People can get to know you by knowing where you go but also by knowing what you are trying to accomplish.

  3. […] Quel est l’intérêt de foursquare dans le domaine de la santé ? Impossible de répondre avec précision aujourd’hui à cette question, mais certains la posent et lancent déjà des idées comme Phil Baumann, non sans humour, dans son post Foursquare Is Powerful Enough to Cure Insomnia and Depression. […]

  4. Great post, Phil. I have been toying with Foursquare myself and linking my check-ins to Facebook where you’ll find me having gone to the pub, the Indian restaurant, and the pharmacy (no causal connection).

    Abstracting the way that we think about communities connecting and how this could map on to geolocation tools is fascinating. I’ve just given an example of how you could track the evolution of the symptoms (primary impact) of my dyspepsia, but think about how these platforms could track secondary (functional) and tertiary (QoL) impacts too.

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