What I'm discovering more and more now, is that Amsterdam is quite a little village. I mean... seriously... this is the central part of it, and where most of the action happens in the city.
(Picture credit here. The circles are all the little canals - it started off with the inner-most ring being the medieval moat, and then they built dams around it. Or something. I think.)
This is how small this place is. Or perhaps it could be the wonderment or DANGER of social media:
I go to a particular coffee joint every morning to get my usual "One double shot soy flat-white, please". Then, I checked in on Foursquare. That's a little game tech-geeks started out playing, but it's starting to become almost as famous as Twitter is. You check in at places all over the city you're in and it can also link to your Twitter or Facebook updates. While you're at whatever place you've checked in at, you can see if other users have tips about the place (eg. "you must try the cheeseburger here").
You collect points depending on whether it's your first time there, you're recommending a new place not on Foursquare's grid yet, etc. The idea is that at some point, Foursquare also partners with these retail businesses and offers promos and discounts, depending how many points you've chalked up. Or something.
It's kind of like a Google Maps meets Twitter mash-up. Of course, the danger to this is that some people have gone overboard with over-sharing information, and funny sites like Please Rob Me had sprung up to show which people had told the whole world they'd left their homes through their status updates (I'm not THAT stupid, of course).
So... what's my point here?
Today, when I went to get my usual coffee, the friendly neighbourhood Barista said "Hey, I think I saw you on Twitter!" only coz I'd tweeted my usual order through Foursquare. And this coffee joint was setting up their social media fan pages and doing research and saw that my order looked familiar (I don't think they get many double-shot soy flat-white drinkers in Holland).
I sent that info to the whole wide world. I mean - that's pretty harmless information, and my friendly neighbourhood Barista is pretty harmless. She's just pretty. It just made me a little bit freaked out. Especially when she proceeded to say "So you're pretty into the yoga, ja?" (the "J" is silent in Dutch, so that's pronounced "Yah")
But... did I really need her to know that? Amsterdam's small enough as it is, this is just making it smaller, perhaps? It just made me a bit wary of Foursquare. I'd stopped using it after running into Inappropriate Yoga Guy in Sydney (thinking that maybe he found me through this blog or Twitter or Foursquare)... maybe not, but it does kinda make you think twice about what/ how much you share, to prevent any unwanted attention.
On the other hand, the awesome thing about any kind of social media is... er... the "social" element of it. HAHA. Being new to a place, I find these apps help me navigate my way around the city - what's on, who's doing what, where the cool places are to check out... The friendly neighbourhood Barista also said what's great about these apps is a regular customer from up the road tweeted that he was just about to head out to get his usual coffee order. They saw his tweet and made his coffee just as he was making his way over. So... Hmm.
Ah... the times... they are a-changing.