At last night’s NY Tech Meetup, the show got kicked off by some demos from university students. I particularly liked the mashup of Steve Lehrburger leveraging Foursquare API and showing a heat map of your checkins.
Here’s the heat map of my 759 checkins in Foursquare. As I could expect, the 2 big heat points are midtown, where my office is based, and Soho / Nolita / Bowery where I spend most of my time outside of the office. I couldn’t include Brooklyn where I live (doesn’t fit on the map). Anyway, little but neat app…
Upon the sharing of a friend on Facebook (ahhh… the power of social recommendation…), I discovered a new service called in Flavors.me which enables anyone to build a personalized page on himself or anyone else and then link to it the main social content production factories. They currently carry 14 services including Facebook, Tumblr but also your DVD queue from Netflix, your checkins from Foursquare or the last tracks you’ve been listening on Last.fm.
Once you’ve added all services, the user coming to your page can click on the services you’ve added and a window will display whatever stream of activity you’ve had on that specific service.
Testing it yesterday, I mechanically added all the services I’m using including Netflix and Foursquare. Once I realized that everybody could then follow my physical traces around NY through Foursquare or all photos that I posted to Facebook (and where these only get displayed to a selected list of people), I freaked out and decided to limit that to only the safer LinkedIn and other Twitter feeds.
Well, boy, it was easy to add services but it was a nightmare to remove them. Flavors.me doesn’t include a “Remove The Service” option… Sure, they’re in beta but given the nature of their business, that should probably be part of your MVP feature… So then I went to all the services I wanted to get off my Flavors.me page and remove the authorization for Flavors.me to access these data. But even with that, Flavors.me kept the latest stream of data imported. Sure, nothing new was going to get published but all of the content previously imported was visible.
I ended terminating my account at Flavors.me to clean it. Don’t get me wrong, I think the service is pretty neat (rebuilding a page right now), but I was a little taken aback by the difficulty to keep track of all your social traces. That comes around a fairly large debate, initially provoked by the launch of PleaseRobMe which list empty homes by tapping into Twitter API. While Foursquare is a closed network (you need to approve your friends), more and more people link it automatically with their Twitter account which is an open network, all of a sudden revealing to anyone who wants to find it whether you’re at home or not. Foursquare countered back on that issue but this is just the beginning of more and more debates around open systems.
One of the key improvements there would probably be for the main companies that offers to link your accounts to open systems like Twitter to state clearly that you pushing out data on the open. I also think that the details of permissions given to 3rd-party services should be much more detailed on networks like Facebook and Twitter. You basically should be able to have the same detail of what you’re authoring and to whom as you have in your Facebook privacy settings. For once, I might be pretty ok (actually I know I would…) to display on Flavors.me my Foursquare badges, but not necessarily all my checkins…
The photo above shows my welcome screen on Flavors.me with my Tumblr blog feed open