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This article was published on August 22, 2015

Screw the cynics, Foursquare’s Swarm is better than ever

Screw the cynics, Foursquare’s Swarm is better than ever
Martin Bryant
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Martin Bryant

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Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-qualit Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-quality, compelling content for them. He previously served in several roles at TNW, including Editor-in-Chief. He left the company in April 2016 for pastures new.

This week Foursquare added leaderboards back to its location sharing app Swarm. Our own Lauren Hockenson could just about raise a ‘meh’ at the news:

“I spent about 9 months on Swarm before I had an epiphany one day: what am I even doing this for? I was no longer getting anything out of it, and putting the work into it seemed less fun as a result. But now that it’s full of all these blingy, shiny incentives that are promising “more fun” down the road, it kind of just makes me sad.”

But I couldn’t be happier. Getting points, stickers and leaderboard places as I navigate the world is a little bit of fun that makes each day more interesting.

Yes, the leaderboards are easily gamed. Someone I know checks regularly into the city, borough and road he’s in as well as the exact location, earning points for them all, while no-one else I know does that, making him permanent leaderboard champ. It renders the game unwinnable, but for me that’s not really the point.

I love this stuff…

Swarm in action

The coins, the stickers, mayorships, moving past someone on a leaderboard when I check into an Amsterdam tram stop – these things tickle my brain’s pleasure center each time they happen, and I don’t really care that they’re inherently meaningless and just there to encourage me to feed more data to Foursquare.

Can Foursquare find an exit and justify all the investment capital and debt it’s taken on in the past seven years? Professionally, in my job as an industry watcher, that’s a question I’m interested in. But away from that, I’m a Swarm user and and Swarm makes me happy. And surely that’s the most important thing.