Oh Charles Duell, how wrong you were.
I love the Internet. Communication, information, music, sharing pictures, blogging, lolcats (come on, they're funny)... and, of course, social networking (anyone else tired of that term yet?). But as much as I now enjoy social sites, it took me forever to figure out what to do with them. I absolutely hated anything MySpace (annoying backgrounds + auto-playing music = instant blacklisting), I still have yet to figure out what on earth LinkedIn is good for, and Twitter seemed stupid. (Why on earth would I want to pore through hundreds of tweets about stupid crap that people are doing?) And then I signed up for it.
I like using Twitter to stay on top of local goings-on and - of course - what's on tap & in stores locally. Freestate, Boulevard, McCoy's, Flying Saucer, Westside Local - they all tweet (some more than others). Create a list and you've got a constantly-updated tally of what's going on. But unless you stay on top of tweets every day (or hour even), it's easy to miss something of interest.
I'd seen an upsurge in this Foursquare thing on Facebook, but largely ignored it thinking it was some sort of Farmville or "Do Your Friends Like You?! Take the Quiz! LOL!!" game or app. After seeing several references to it on Twitter (online wonderland of no annoying apps), I finally looked into it. It's a location-based way of sending information out to the interwebs, but a bit more complicated than that. You can read more on their site.
I see a lot of promise for location-based networking, but many of the apps out there are still pretty one-sided. Latitude and BrightKite, for instance, just sorta tell people where you are. Big deal. But apps like Yelp, Whrrl, and Foursquare let you keep track of where you go, how often you go, your thoughts on places you visit, and what's nearby that might be of interest. You can look up what others have said about the place as well as other similar venues. Let's say you're hanging out at Waldo Pizza and looking to move on to another good beer joint. Log in to Whrrl, look at someone who likes Waldo Pizza, and see what other places they like. Or, the list of similar places nearby. Instant location-based recommendation. (And of course, being a Google FanGirl, I love that it's integrated with Google Maps.)
But what I'm most interested in is how businesses can use these apps to their advantage - and ours. Bars are starting to offer deals to people who tweet or check in from their business locations. Beer specials. Free soda. Food deals. Did I mention beer specials? This location-based social networking looks like a wonderful thing indeed.