Drive a cab or pedicab at SXSW? Check the Explore tab on Foursquare!

I’m in Austin, Texas for SXSW. I had two experiences with cabs yesterday.

The first was being pretty much stranded at a Burger King near Walmart in the middle of nowhere, off a highway :O “serves you right”, I hear Alex saying. We waited for a good hour I’d say, and when we finally got in the cab, the cab driver, amongst other things, was ranting about how terrible their dispatch is, and the distrust, almost, that they have in them. And this is apparently the best of the bunch, when it comes to cab companies in Austin.

I didn’t pay much attention to it, and was actually appreciative of how decent Sydney is in getting a cab to you, when called for.

The second experience was when we were all severely intoxicated, evacuating a closing bar, and wondering where the hell to go next. What did we do? We checked out the Explore tab on Foursquare.


I’m in love with Gowalla’s UI, especially on my Android, but Foursquare 3.0 added two pretty cool things. Explore, with it’s pre-checkin usefulness, showing you what’s trending, and relevant to you, has been the tool of choice when the magical question of “So where are we drinking?” comes up. It is especially useful in Austin, which is just oozing with social media geeks at the moment.

The second cool thing, and I know I’ve gone off on a tangent, is the analytics that they’ve added *post* check-in. I can’t be bothered grabbing a screenshot from my phone for obvious reasons [drunk and incapable], but I checked in with Pon the other day, and it said something along the lines of “You haven’t been out with Pon in over a year! The last time you saw him was at Slate, January XX, 2010”. Factoid! Love it!

Moving on… There were around 10 of us, and we see pedicabs. I’m pretty sure we all thought, “hey, drunk novelty value! let’s go!”. We asked one of the drivers to call a couple more pedicabs so we could all get moving, and then started checking Foursquare to decide where to go. At this point, our favourite pedicab driver [@AndyBakersBike] was curious as to what we were doing. We showed him our phones and said we want to go to Mugshots because there are still 50 people there, and that we came to The Ginger Man because there were ~200 here. 

I’m saying these numbers like they’re a fact, but again, in a town like Austin, around SXSW, Location Based Services are a pretty darn good indicator of where the crowds are at!

We told Andy that he should totally sign up to Foursquare and Twitter, and legitimately use Foursquare as a means of knowing where his next customers are coming from. I mean, imagine him checking Foursquare, seeing 200 people checked in at The Ginger Man, and then thinking, “Bingo! Lots of drunk people who’ll want to be going home very soon!”.

These guys don’t have a Dispatch or anything, but hell, with the terrible condition that cabs are in, you could argue that Foursquare *is* Dispatch, and more reliable.

Am I still hungover and ranting nonsensical thoughts? Very likely. I do think the idea has some merit though.


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