I’m going to go ahead and sheepishly admit that I really get Foursquare. I mean, I know that it’s an app that lets users “check in” at a slew of locations in and around big US cities, and I now know that the phrase isn’t referring exclusively to hotel check-ins. I understand the part about swapping travel tips with social network friends, but until now, it’s seemed to me like a really spooky way to be a) extra-exhibitionist and b) all too traceable. Like a confusing hybrid of The Sims meets Girl/Boy Scouts meets Google Maps. At least I’ve gotten some good laughs out of the dirty jokes it’s inspired.
Enter NASA, giving Foursquare the same supercool seal of approval it gave Twitter back in January (note how we predicted it was only a matter of time). Confession: I went to Space Camp. In Huntsville, Alabama. When I was well past the age that it was cool. And though my brain didn’t quite develop in an aeronautic engineer-y way, I still have a weakness for all things NASA. I can relate to Liz Lemmon’s dream of astronaut Mike Dexter.
So when astronaut Doug Wheeler (nice ring to it) announced last week that he had “unlocked the NASA Explorer badge” (translation, I think: achieved a specific goal at a given location — in this case, simply being in outer space), Foursquare gained my respect a bit. The NASA Foursquare page already has connections to space stations, museums and yes, Space Camps. Cool.
Not sure yet if I’m ready to start checking in around town, but if anyone could sway me, it might just be astronaut Doug Wheeler. Here’s the actual check-in, and the accompanying message:
Caroline Walker is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and editor. She has worked in both the entertainment and the nonprofit sector. Walker holds a BA from the University of Southern California and an MA from New York University’s Gallatin School.