Foursquare, for the unaware, is a social network based around places. Going for coffee? Find the coffee shop in Foursquare's mobile app, "check in" to say you're there, and your friends can see where you are. Check in to a certain venue often enough and you will be awarded the title of Mayor of that place.
What I love about Foursquare is how it taps into the Web's hottest new trend: The wisdom of friends. There's a reason it feels like almost every website (including this one) has a section for recommendations from your Facebook friends. Quite simply, we listen to our friends.
I can download plenty of iPhone apps that offer informed opinions on the best restaurants in town. But Foursquare tells me where my friends like to go. And I'm sorry Zagat, but I trust my friends more than I trust you.
Still, I hear you cry: How can anyone be bothered? In an age where we've got Twitter to update and Facebook photos to upload, do we need another social network to have to deal with? And do we really need to tell our friends where we are every five minutes?
This is the genius of Foursquare: They've turned social networking into a game. And I've said before how much I like games.
Every time you check into a place, you get points. The more places you go in a day, the more bonus points you get. Going somewhere for the first time? You get extra points for that. Adding a venue that isn't in Foursquare's database? That's worth extra points too! Foursquare has leaderboards to compare your weekly points tally with your friends and stoke the fires of competition. Gimmicky? Maybe. But extremely effective.
Still, I hear the critics cry that it's a waste of time. Some even say it's a social network for stalkers. I can't think of a social network that I've had to defend as much as Foursquare. I almost feel like I'm justifying keeping a page on MySpace.
(Just kidding. Nothing can possibly justify that.)
Catch News Stream with Kristie Lu Stout weekdays at 8pm HKT/ 12pm GMT / 8am ET on CNN International.