Facebook Places might become the best aggregator for locations

We can stop wondering and waiting, Facebook Places was announced yesterday (after much waiting, I must say). I was relieved to see Foursquare was there. Sure I don’t think they looked happy about it. Something like the king or queen requesting your presence at an announcement of how much you’ll now be taxed as a member of the nobility. However the fact that Foursquare is going to be included means that this month’s work writing Teach Yourself Foursquare hasn’t been for naught.

Regardless, I’m sure you’ve read the myriad of posts about Place and how to turn in off (It’s interesting, we can turn Places off in Canada…we just can’t use it yet). Below are some posts about Facebook Places that I found:

All the posts explain the basics, and have the right about of journalistic distance, but there are questions that everyone is asking: will you use it and will it crush everything else.

For me, the thing I have already turned off on Places is friends being able to tag me in Places. While I might have Foursquare connect with Places (maybe), share Jolie O’Dell’s issue with Places—Why I’m Not Using Facebook Places—Facebook (and Twitter and LinkedIn) is a social network where I’m rather social. If I “unfriended” everyone on Facebook who I didn’t know in person or was a real and actual friend with, I’d have a pretty thin list of Facebook friends. Facebook has been a place where I pull together folks I “know” … acquaintances, people I’ve met at conferences, etc. I don’t think I’m alone in this fact and this is something I think everyone will have to deal with as Places rolls out throughout the U.S. and then the rest of the world.

Now, the crushing everything else question. I’ve posed this question to my contact at Foursquare. I don’t expect I’ll hear back anytime soon, but I think what is going to happen is what is still going on with Twitter. Adaptation. Yes, Twitter has had a head start, but I think what other services know is that they have to play ball with Facebook. They’ll go beyond their current posting to Facebook status and integrate with Places. Foursquare, well the points and badges have a certain appeal that geeks like. I’m sure they know that points aren’t going to be enough though. I think Foursquare will have to have an easy way to suddenly make Facebook Places users Foursquare users. Then Foursquare has to jump right into the fray with something that draws people to use them over Facebook for their location game-places fix.

And as strange as it might sound, I think Facebook needs Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite, Yelp and the rest. Facebook with just “here is where I am” probably isn’t enough. So Facebook needs other folks for that reason … if nothing else that’s why Facebook isn’t planning on crushing everyone else. Maybe Facebook needs to stay generic, vanilla, bland. Something the mainstream can understand and latch onto, then Facebook let’s other people develop the cool stuff to capture the portions of the Facebook user base who might get into it.

In any case, Places I’m going to keep you at arm’s length for the moment (when I can use it that is) while Foursquare, only two and a half chapters left and the entire book draft is done.


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