One of the new social media websites that I'm having a lot of fun with is Gowalla, but of course you know me, I'm using it my own way. Sites like Gowalla and Foursquare allow users to check in at certain locations. Ideally you would see where your friends are and/or see what other people are at your location and then you could go and be social with them. Well that's not me. I'm shy and big social interactions, especially with strangers scares me, which is ironic considering how many different social applications I use. Of course I use them my way which has gotten me in trouble more than once with people who think I'm not doing it the right way. I'm happy to say that I've reached a point in my life (age, wisdom, or fed-up) where I say that's their problem not mine. (Wow, that really makes me sound crotchety. I have a nice side I promise!)
One of the reasons I prefer Gowalla over Foursquare is that I don't need to interact with other people to make it fun (Crotchety!). Gowalla has a virtual geocaching component that I find interesting. When you check in at locations you sometimes find items. The items could have been left there by a previous Gowalla user or could be a bonus item. You can swap items or drop items at the location and since this changes with each person's interaction with that location each location will be unique. The graphics are colorful and fun and I'm always excited to see what new items I can find.
These are the items that I have right now in my pack. You can have a total of 10.
Some of these items like the mask and the red silk robe were bonus items that I received for checking in. Other items like the margarita and the pint were left by other users and I picked them up. The pint came from Laredo! I find this aspect the most entertaining and it keeps me checking in.
Foursquare has a system where if you have the most check-ins at a location you are the "mayor" of that location. I'm glad Gowalla doesn't do that. In fact I feel like Gowalla encourages me to try different places because I get a new stamp for each place that I go. Here are some of the places I checked in on Monday and the stamps that were added to my passport.
I do visit the same locations multiple times (hello Central Market), but thankfully I'm not gaming to be mayor of any one location. For me, no matter whether I am in a new location or an old favorite, I am looking forward to seeing what items I can find. Basically I just go about my day as normal and the check ins, stamps and items are a bonus to my regular activities.
Is this silly? Completely! Do I care? No. I'm having lots of fun with Gowalla.