Four Ideas for Foursquare

Foursquare is a mobile check-in app that allows the user to indicate their location by checking in. Users can earn points, badges and the title of “mayor” based on their frequency of check-ins and variety of locations that are visited. It also has a social component that allows you to see where your friends have checked in and what locations they recommend. This type of application is still on the tech horizon even though they have over 15 million users. There is a big upside for this type of business. 

Here are four new features I’d love to see: 

  1. Classify businesses based on the volume of checkins. This idea springboards off of  the “mayor” concept. If a business can have a “mayor”, why not classify the business as a village, town, city, or metropolis? This would incentives the participation of individual businesses and give a new metric to the users. 
  2. Provide more leadership positions than just the “mayor”. This would incentives more people to check-in and it gives a good metric to the business. If I were a business, I would want to know who my 10 most loyal patrons were verses just a single “mayor”. 
  3. Incentives the To-Do feature. Shouldn’t I get points for publishing a list of places that I’m interested in? And shouldn’t businesses be able to act on my To-Do list? 
  4. Let me give points to my friends. If points have value, then I should be able to use this value for more than just personal status on a list. This builds community and gives users a reason to come back to the app. 

Measuring Your Social Influence

There are two web based applications that will measure your influence on the web: Kloutand Kred. Here is what you need to know about this genre of application and how it can be useful. 

Maybe it all started with Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point. Or maybe it came before that. But for the last ten years measuring an individual’s influence on society has gained attention. There is a desire to objectively quantify the impact of individuals words or actions. 

This is a big deal for business. Take for example the employer hiring new employees. If the employer can identify a potential hire who has 10x as much social influence as the other job applicants, they will obviously know which person to employ. Measuring influence can also play into compensation and salaries. A high “influence score” can be a big asset on a resume. 

So how do you measure an individual’s influence? That is the question that Klout and Kred are attempting to answer. 

Klout started to gain attention about two years ago. I first came across them as an embedded score in HootSuiet’s contact view. Basically, they score anyone who is on Twitter with a score on a scale from 1-100. A person connects their social accounts to the app and they scan your social interaction. Their algorithm generates a score that is updated on a daily basis. Here is how they describe what they are measuring:

“Klout was founded in 2008 to help you measure and leverage your influence. We believe influence is the ability to drive action. For example, Oprah’s opinion on literature has inspired millions to read titles from her book club. But you don’t have to be Oprah to have influence. You influence your friend when she listens to a song you recommend on Facebook. You influence your coworker when he checks out an article you posted on LinkedIn and shares it with someone else. Social actions like these are a reflection of influence.”

There have been many critics of Klout. It seems like they get as much grief as they get praise. But over the last three months they have gained a lot of momentum. Their CEO has appeared in numerous articles and they seem to be around for the long haul. Here is one interview.  

The second influence measurement tool is Kred. Kred is the new kid on the block and has the “coming soon” sign on a number of its features. There are a number of similarities between Kred and Klout, but it would appear that Kred is attempting to build off of Klout’s mistakes. 

They have created a score that is based on 1-1000 scale and work only with Twitter at the time of this writing. Their greatest strength is that they make the scoring process transparent. So users are able to watch their score go up and down as they interact on the web. 

At this point, both of these platforms are early on in development. They are pioneering a new tool and there are a lot of questions and challenges too be determined.

Application For the Christian Leader

I’m reminded of Jesus statement in Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

The call to be an influence in the world is not a question. Jesus told the disciples to be salt and light. We are called to influence the world around us. 

It is important to point out that the change that occurs in others does not originate in us. Truly, God is influencing the world. We are invited into the process of change he is authoring in individual’s lives. As we speak and do the things he is leading us in, we should be impacting others. Paul expressed this beautifully when he wrote to the Corinthians about his influence on their lives; “clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” (2 Cor. 3:3)

To Klout and Kred’s shame, they are evaluating ones influence in quantity. The actual quality of change is not scored. They are measuring breadth of influence but not doing a lot with depth. (How could they?) The edification that takes place as another person reads the scripture I post to my Facebook wall cannot be measured with a mere “like”. There is a hidden work that is taking place in peoples hearts and that will remain unseen no matter how much technology progresses. 

At the same time, Klout and Kred are evaluating my influence based on my ability to move others to action. What a great concept! I don’t want to just make people feel good, but I want people to speak and do based on what I share. “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)

So for now, Klout and Kred serve as a rough measurement tool that encourages me to stay active in developing my influence in other peoples lives. It is a reminder to participate in the community of friends and followers that God has given me. And it is an external motivator pushing me to do what I know is right. 

Are you using either of these two applications? How do you think they compliment or hinder a Christian’s activity on the internet? 

Fragments From the Web About Online Controversy

By way of follow up on my post from Monday, here are a few bits and peices that relate to the topic of controversy, contenting, disagreeing, and critiquing. 

Stephen Altrogge wrote about “How to Disagree Online”. 

Chris Lazo wrote about how to respond when you are criticized

Tullian [Last Name Illegable] pointed out Tim Keller’s teaching on Religion vs. the Gospel. This is a round about way of supporting Bethke’s intentions with his Religion vs. Jesus video. 

Britt Merrick tweeted: “To escape criticism: do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” Make sure you put on sun glasses before you click on that link. 

Trevin Wax tweeted: “Excessive critique on the part of leaders will squelch the passion of the next generation.

Looking Deeper Into Christian Liberty

What does the Bible say about Facebook, Twitter and social networks? Nothing? That’s right. Facebook and Twitter are not in the Bible. But there is a very clear teaching in scripture that helps us to evaluate issues that are not explicitly commanded or condemned in the Bible. This teaching is called Christial liberty. 

In my blog post yesterday I referenced “matters of conscience” quite a bit. Christian liberty and matters of conscience are very similar and they represent a vital doctrine that helps us evaluate our participation in social networks. It is the basic theological platform that allows us to use Facebook or Twitter. 

The core passages on Christian liberty are found in 1 Corinthians 8-10 and Romans 14-15. Here Paul explains his freedom and self-imposed limits. There were Christians and nonchristians that were strugling with food offered to idols, holidays, marriage, and the cerimonial aspects of the jewish law. Paul explained at length how to evaluate these types of issues. So if you want to study Christian liberty, that is where you need to start. 

A few years ago my Dad preached a sermon that framed the whole topic well. He provided an instrument called The Six Freedom Principles that helped clearify the biblical teaching on Christian Liberty. Much of the teaching is based on the key passages out of 1 Corinthians and Romans. Here is the basic outline from his message.  

Freedom Principle #1: I have the freedom and right to do whatever is not forbidden explicitly in Scripture. I have the responsibility to take a stand for the freedom I have in Christ. My choice is between God and me. (Galatians 5:1, Romans 14:23, 1 Corinthians 10:29)

What is Christian Freedom? 

Christian freedom is the ability to move without constraint, pursuing and achieving the desires of our hearts, within the boundaries provided by the scriptures.

What does it mean to violate one’s conscience?

If you participate in an activity that your conscience is telling you is wrong, that is sin. (Romans 14:23)

If you know you should do something and don’t do it, that’s sin. (James 4:17)

So, avoid things that your conscience is prompting you as wrong and do what you know is right.

Freedom Principle #2: I have a responsibility to limit my freedom in Christ for the sake of other believers who may be caused to stumble. The word “stumble” has the idea of falling into sin themselves, not just being bothered. (1 Corinthians 8)

Freedom Principle #3: I have a responsibility to limit my freedom for the sake of non-believers because winning them to Christ is the most important issue. (1 Corinthians 10:23-33)

Freedom Principle #4: I must limit my freedom when it indulges my sinful nature. (1 Corinthians 6:12, Galatians 5:13, Proverbs 4:23)

Freedom Principle #5: I need to be careful about imposing my personal convictions on someone else, thus erring by judging others. (Romans 14:1-8, 1 Corinthians 4:5, Matthew 7:2)

Freedom Principle #6: I must submit myself to those whom God has placed as authorities in my life, recognizing that leaders (ie: parents, pastors, government) have an obligation to encourage people to live Godly lives, warn them about the dangers of life choices, and impose limitations when necessary. (Romans 13:5)

I have used this teaching a number of times since I first heard it in 2009. Most recently I taught a class at School of Worship based on the same outline. 

In closing, I wanted to add one more quote from The Great Doctrines of the Bible. The author provides a more condensed version of the same thing. 

Believers have liberty in Christ, Gal. 5:1. This is limited by personal conviction, Rom. 14:5; by warnings against self indulgence, Gal. 5:13; by enslaving habits, 1 Cor. 6:12; and by anything which does not edify, 1 Cor. 10:23; which is hypocritical, 1 Pet. 2:16; or which tends to harm the weak, 1 Cor. 8:9. Three principles govern conduct.

1. Effect upon self. Conduct must be pure rather than lustful, 1 Tim. 5:22; 1 Pet. 2:11. It must not defile, 1 Cor. 3:17; Tit. 1:15 , or result in self condemnation, Rom. 14:22. It is always to be in the category of good works, Tit. 3:8 , rather than in the category of sin, Rom. 6:13.

2. Effect upon others, Rom. 14:7. It is to be a good example, 1 Tim. 4:12; worthy of our calling, Eph. 4:1; honest, 2 Cor. 8:21; free from the appearance of evil, 1 Thess. 5:22; helpful rather than offensive to a neighbor, Rom. 15:2; l Cor. 10:32; not a cause of stumbling, Rom. 14:13. It must honor parents, Col. 3:20; and government, Tit. 3:1; while it may not be an unequal yoke, 2 Cor. 6:14.

3. Relationship to God. Everything is to be done in the name of the Lord, 1 Tim. 6:1; as unto Him, Col. 3:23; and for His glory, 1 Cor. 10:31. It is to be worthy of God and His kingdom, 1 Thess. 2:12; 2 Thess. 1:5. (Evans, W., & Coder, S. M. (1998). The great doctrines of the Bible (Enl. ed.) (282–283). Chicago: Moody Press.)