“Stand by for a fighter pilot,” Robert Duvall’s character, Lt. Col. “Bull” Meechum, declares as he enters the room in the movie The Great Santini. And are those of us risking our lives every day on the social media front lines any less deserving of respect?
Perhaps it doesn’t deserve the status of a combat fighter pilot, but Foursquare has upgraded me to “Superuser” status, which means:
“you gain the ability to edit our venue database (fixing incorrect addresses, suggesting duplicate venues, marking places as “closed”, matching venues with their Twitter accounts). In the future, you may unlock additional Superuser powers that let you merge venues and (ah, someday!) create new badges.”
I have to admit that I was excited about this. The creators of Foursquare are tapping into basic human behavior. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs describes a theory of human needs which include “Belonginess” and “Esteem.” Foursquare plays to both of these, and many others. It’s prestigious (in a trivial way) to be the “Mayor” of a location. Each “Badge” collected along the way creates a sense of accomplishment. Every new user blazes a path visible to the next wave of users.
Foursquare takes the dynamics of social networking — things like trust, common interests and authenticity — and adds these other dimensions of esteem, belongingness, etc. to create a complex but highly compelling environment. It may not be as exciting as the life of a fighter pilot, but Foursquare is clever and addicting.