Thursday, April 1, 2010

Newschool Social Amsterdam

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")

Erm... Ja.

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.


  1. I know I've found this blog through twitter, so I enjoy social media advances.

    However, once people know too much about you they can take if they know you're gone, they can rob your home easily.

    Guard Dog..grr.

  2. This is SOMETHING isn't it? on the other hand, it has his advantages, like how Grimmly had his order corrected when the mat came in a color he did not want... businesses are listening, maybe your coffe will be perfect from now on, it CAN be good, even if nerve racking at times...

  3. I don't think it's a bad thing at all that someone recognised you via Twitter. I've made some cool friends through Foursquare and Twitter! It all started because one person ousted another for mayorship, hehe!

    Then we gave each other a bit of smack talk on Twitter and ended up recommending places to eat to each other.

    There's way too much xenophobia as it is in our world. The more connected and village-like we can be, the better. After all, yoga is about being open-hearted. Are we going to choose who we are open-hearted to, or can any one join in the love-fest? (Love as in caring, not anything more...ewww) ;)

  4. Maybe I'm just too much of a hermit, but this current trend of having everyones business on display freaks me out! I think you're probably safe, but... do be careful.

    I sound like a mom.

  5. Interesting comments, good food-for-thought. I absolutely LOVE Twitter, and have found a whole other world of yogadorks on there *waves to Svasti*... and yes, like Svasti, I've actually made real-life friends by first meeting them on Twitter, opening up the cyber shala to beyond just blogs. Although... a yogadork is probably loads easier to trust than a random stranger on the street who says "I follow your tweets" (Get away, you freak!)

    So... I guess a safety precaution/ stalker-prevention tactic would be: check in at foursquare AFTER you've left the place! Heh.

  6. hi Skippetty
    interesting on the Tweets. i'm afraid of that one, though. i think i reveal enough already chez my blog. i don't think there is a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, that i know yet. however, in Singapore, everyone is always on their cell phones, reading emails, yaking, playing games. i thought i would see this behavior in the public transportation in San Fran, while on my visit here, but people are just silent. that's another strange thing. in public transportation in SH, it's common to see a lot of people yaking away with each other, laughing a lot. now the quietness of people in the buses here in SF is bothering me.

  7. hhehehe. i said Singapore, how is that for automatic typing away? i meant Shanghai. hmmm, i was reading about an architectural proposal in Singapore an hour ago, so maybe my fingers did the typing...

  8. Haha, maybe also coz I'm from Singapore, so somehow subliminally your wires got crossed. I don't mind a quiet bus/ train... in London, people seem to be reading quite a bit. In Singapore (yes, Singapore. Not Shanghai)... people are quiet, but they're SPACING OUT. Nobody's reading nor playing sudoku. I find that extremely disturbing. Like... some of these people have a LONG commute and they're just spacing out?! Scary...


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