The Art of Checking-In With Entertainment-Based Apps

Over the past couple of years location-based applications have become more and more popular with those using mobile devices. The idea of these apps is that from a mobile device a user can check-in and tell others where he or she is – a movie theatre, a store, a restaurant, a library, and so on. The people behind the location-based services make the check-in worth the user’s time because of the game-like features and virtual and non-virtual incentives integrated into the apps. For example, with brightkite the person with the most check-ins at a particular location gets to be mayor of that location. Establishments that know how brightkite works can offer rewards to mayors. For example, a library might give the brightkite mayor of the institution a discount on copying costs. With FourSquare user rewards come in the form of badges. For example, a FourSquare user can check into a specific Starbucks a certain number of times and earn the barista badge. Mayorships and badges appear in the user’s profile on the service. That means others can learn about the rewards earned. Rewards can also be announced via Twitter and other social networks. As I mentioned in a 2008 blog post, the possibilities for location-based applications in library services to teens are many.

Now there’s a new way to check-in, and that’s application and web-based tools that give users the chance to check-in when participating in an entertainment related activity – reading a book, watching a TV show, viewing a movie, and so on.
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brightkite: What’s It Good For?

Recently librarians started to take notice of brightkite, a web-based service that calls itself a “location-based social network.” The idea of brightkite is that you sign-up for an account, add friends, and then using the web, IM or text-messaging check-in at brightkite to let those in your network know where you are and what you are doing. For example, type in the zip code 02115 and brightkite sends out a notice to all of your friends on the network (that they can read on a mobile device or on the web) letting them know you are in Boston, MA. The message also includes a link or display (depending on the device used to read the meassage) of a map showing where that zip code is in Boston. It’s also possible to post photos of that location and post notes about what’s going on there.
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