I recently reached a milestone of sorts, 5000 tweets and 5000 foursquare check-ins. For most people on twitter, 5000 tweets is a small goal, but how many people also have 5000 foursquare check-ins as well?
In looking up all the tweets that I have made (twitter limited my history look up to 3196), I joined twitter on December 14, 2007 – and it took me under 5 years to get 5000. Unfortunately, due to some API access limitations, I am unable to pull up my first tweet. Nevertheless, in reviewing the content that I generated about 12% of the posts were coming my blog and 32% were retweets (RT) from other people. There’s also a smattering of foursquare activity and comments about events that I was attending.
Interestingly, while I have generated over 5,000 tweets, how I create tweets vs. reading tweets has been an interesting evolution. In this post, I’ll just focus on how I use twitter. One policy I think I have tried to keep up is that when I retweet (RT) I always like to add some comments to further the conversation. Quite often I do get RTs but I would love the conversation to continue over a half-dozen tweets.
Perhaps what Twitter has taught me most is to be terse and precise when possible. I’m not quite sure if has carried over to changing my communication style in person, but when creating my digital exhaust (as Saad Khan put it) I find getting to the point quickly has merit and substance. Unfortunately what the medium has also taught me to do is make a lot of short hand that appears to be spelling mistakes and lots of grammar faux pas to fit my prose into 140 characters. For someone who has to do a lot of writing as part of their job, this comes back to bite me all the time. While spell check and grammar check are helping aids, they often are unable to resolve the various writing styles (tweets, reviews, emails, presentations and documents).
For foursquare it took me less that 3 years to reach 5000 check-ins. Since joining on October 10, 2009, the recent analysis of where I have been has been entertaining, even if it was just for myself. According to my foursquare history, I’ve been to 51 Airports, and traveled over 200,000 miles in getting to 5,000 check-ins.
At the beginning of using it, I felt that it was certainly a competitive service to play among my 4sq friends to achieve top of the leaderboard status and amassing badges. However over time, as 4sq adjusted the game mechanics, it started to become a way to explore and make sure that I got out of the house as well as away from my desk to go for a walk.
One of the other reasons why I believe that I am still loyal to foursquare is because I like to travel. Judging by the map below and all the trips, there is certainly parts of the world that I did not check-in and journey to, but a lot of these trips were for work than pleasure.
A side effect that I noticed during all of my check-ins is that I started using foursquare as a location diary to remember people whom i met with and spoke to. I tend to review what I did during the day, using my check-ins as a reference and it helps me remember conversations, events, etc.
On the downside, one thing that I’ve tried, but don’t feel is quite useful are the Specials and Coupons offered through 4sq. I simply blame this on the broken marketing chain where the clerk at the register or the waiter at the restaurant simply did not know how to take action from seeing my phone with a Special displayed. While it will get better over time, it’s not trickling down all the way to the bottom.
While I am not a celebrity trying to get 1M followers, or always trying to be #1 on the Leaderboard among 4sq friends, I do think the positives have outweighed the negatives. Tweets and Check-ins are conversation starters. They are markers, footnotes and details that enhance my conversations with people as well as help me stay in touch with friends who are sprinkled throughout the world. I do think as a result of reading tweets, I am smarter, because I am more informed. I also think I am better than before. Creating a diary, however the final form is, is I think an important thing to do as I get older. It leaves a mark for others to see and hopefully build some conclusion about where I’ve gone and where I’m going.