April 1, 2010

4 minutes with the CEO/co-founder of Foursquare

A chat with the co-founder of Foursquare from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaHave you heard of Foursquare? If not, you likely will in short order. As some people here in the Valley are saying, it’s the Twitter of 2010.

Yesterday, at the Where 2.0 conference in San Jose, I caught up with Foursquare CEO and co-founder Dennis Crowley just after his eye-popping keynote talk.

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For those who don’t know, Foursquare is a web and mobile app that lets its users to connect with friends and update their location. People in their 20s and 30s obsess over checking in at various locations to win digital badges. It runs on the iPhone, Android phones, Blackberry, Palm and other devices.

Crowley says the year-old company is on track to hit a million registered users around May 1, which would be quicker than Twitter made it to a million.

In our chat, Crowley says Foursquare is about “trying to make the real world more playful (and) trying to reward people for doing interesting things.”

Merchants are starting to climb aboard the bandwagon, offering coupons and discounts for people to check in or create a swarm, where 50 people need to check in at a venue or event. Some are pretty funny, like the Seattle business Babeland, which wanted to give a free vibrator to its Foursquare mayor, or the medical marijuana dispensary in Beverly Hills that wanted to give a 15 discount to its mayor.

This kind of swarm behavior, which Howard Rheingold chronicled early on in “Smart Mobs,” was much in evidence at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive Festival, where groups roamed from one party to the next following their friends’ leads on Foursquare. Continue reading

August 5, 2009

Final reflections on the Traveling Geeks trip

Craig & Karyn

JD LasicaIt has been one month since the Traveling Geeks kicked off our trip to London and Cambridge with a Tweetup at JuJu in Chelsea. (I was the chief organizer of trip.) From this distance and vantage point, here are a few random impressions:

• I think too much can be made of the differences between entrepreneurship in the UK and in the United States. While it’s true that Silicon Valley nurtures a spirit of innovation marked by the mantra “Fail often, but fail fast” — an axiom that permits experimentation without demanding an immediate return to investors — it’s even more true that the businessmen and entrepreneurs I met along the way have the same fire in the belly — a burning desire to build something of great value.

SeedCamp was a high point of the trip to many of us, and apart from the well-done, compact presentations, it was fascinating to watch tomorrow’s young business leaders mingle with each other and exchange ideas and contact information. Cross-pollination at its best. Spotify, Huddle, Skimlinks, Zemanta — these are names that may grow into notable consumer brands in the coming years, and Moo arguably already has. (Here’s my writeup; and here’s my video interview with Skimlinks founder Alicia Navarro.)

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July 18, 2009

Howard Rheingold on essential media literacies

21st century media literacies from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaA week ago, as we were wrapping up the Traveling Geeks‘ two-day visit to Cambridge, I was walking down the main drag with author Howard Rheingold when we stopped for a moment in front of King’s College. I took out my loaner Flip Ultra and shot this 6-minute interview of Howard, colorfully garbed as always, in front of the 500-year-old King’s College, talking about 21st century literacies.

Howard hit on one major takeaway that I had from our week in the UK. “Increasingly I think the digital divide is less about access to technology and more about the difference between those who know how and those who don’t know how,” he said. He’s convinced that what’s most important is not access to the Internet — we have more than a billion people on the Internet now and there are 4 billion phones out there — but access to knowledge and literacies for the digital age. “The ability to know has suddenly become the ability to search and the ability to sift” and discern. “Skill plus social” is the key.

Earlier in the week Howard gave the keynote address at Reboot Britain, and he recounts some of the highlights here. Among the Essential Literacies he cites are:

• Attention
• Participation
• Collaboration
• Critical consumption (which includes “crap detection” — we live in an age when you can get the answer to anything out of the air, but how do you know what and whom to trust?)

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July 13, 2009

Meghan Asha on highlights of Traveling Geeks UK

Meghan Asha on technology & the Traveling Geeks from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaI‘m back from my trip to London and Cambridge with the Traveling Geeks — I was the chief organizer of this second annual event — and I’m still going through withdrawal pains after all the amazing encounters we had.

One of the people I most enjoyed spending time with was the amazing Meghan Asha, founder of NonSociety.com, whom I interviewed last fall at a very loud TechCrunch 50. If there’s not a Meghan Asha fan club out there, I just may form one.

On Saturday afternoon, at the conclusion of the trip, I chatted with Meghan for 8 minutes as she sat on a lion statue outside the Fitzwilliam Museum. Topics included technology and women, privacy issues and highlights of the Geeks’ trip.

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Download the video at Archive.org

Three of the Seedcamp winners we met with six days ago today resonated for both Meghan and me: Huddle.net, Zemanta and Skimlinks. I’ll write about them in more detail tomorrow.

I’m going to borrow an idea by fellow Geek Tom Foremski and blog about the trip a week after each event. On July 5 we had a Meet the Geeks Tweetup at JuJu in London’s Chelsea district; kudos to Ted Shelton of the Conversation Group for organizing the event and a hat tip to all our sponsors, especially Intel for donating a Netbook and MID as raffle prizes. Soon I’ll post two Flip video interviews I did at the Tweetup, with Anatolie Papas of Symbian and Kate Arkless Gray of the BBC’s Save Our Sounds.

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