Tonight I stumbled on Jyri Zengestrom’s essay on “object-centered sociality” from 2005 in which he argues that sustainable networks must be built around objects (e.g. photos - Flickr; links - delicious; events - EVDB, Upcoming.org, evnt) rather than people.
He then points out there’s not successful network around places, even though people like to talk about places, because we don’t have “a digital camera for location” - basically an easy way to capture location.
Remember this was written in 2005. Since then:
- Digital camera for location = mobile phone
- Successful service to annotate places = Foursquare
And with that, I finally get foursquare—it makes places into social objects.
That’s a nice soundbite, but the rest of it: places have always been social abstractions, codified as objects in books, maps, vacation photos, etc. Those old objects have for the most part just been grafted onto the web without anyone developing a new object. The location-based social apps made check-ins the social place-object. Interesting.