After a marathon session of Angry Birds last week, I decided to fire up the Android Marketplace to see if there were any other new mobile apps that might be worth trying.
The first thing to catch my eye was an app called 'Foursquare' and it had 4 stars which indicates an application of decent quality. I downloaded the program and opened it, but wasn't completely sure what to make of it at first. The gist of the whole thing is that you use your smartphone and GPS to map a city and 'check-in' with various businesses in a region. This in turn lets other people discover those locations or businesses, and the whole thing is supposed to make a world a better place.
From what I understand, Foursquare is trying to be the next ©Big Thing in social media. I am skeptical of its success, but this doesn't mean much. After all, I'm the same person who shat upon Twitter when it first hit the scene, and to be honest ... I never completely warmed up to that service. I have an account (two accounts now), but I've never used either of them to truly "socialize". I use them to post links and photos, and every now and then I get into a back-and-forth with someone, but in general the noise-to-signal ratio is way too high for me.
RT LOL! @dildojones RT Thanks for the #FF: @peckerhead #FF @dildojones @numbnutsmcgee @stevewynnblowsgoats #shermanfrederickisagreedyasshole @yomamaissougly LOL! #TwitterTuesday Where b all my tweeps at? RT @stevewynnblowsgoats Thanks for the follow! RT @someprperson Re-tweet this for a chance to eat pig feces RT @ineedalife I like food! #nom #somestupidhashtag LOL RT @someonekillmeandputmeoutofmymisery LOL! RT @lolgirl LOL!
That's not information. It's noise. It's digital junk and it accounts for probably a good 50% of Twitter's bandwidth, especially on Fridays.
I fired up the Foursquare app, browsed through their local listings, and realized that Olympia was terribly under-represented on the service. Now, as Las Vegas soon learned, I can be a pretty big asset to a municipality. I don't spend a ton of time sitting at home on my ass, rather, I am always out finding stuff. If I like a city, I explore every crevice of the town and end up indirectly promoting things that might fly under the radar.
This familiar local-pride thing crept into my brain while I was perusing Foursquare. I scrolled through and said "Hey, they are missing some key attractions. The new West Bay Park, our famous artesian well, a few popular hiking trails ... let me try to be a good netizen and help these entrepreneurial dickheads out. Sure, it's a little out of my way, but so was Jerry's Nugget and Lake Las Vegas. A little extra effort never killed anyone."
And so I went. On Sunday, I began carving a path through Olympia that would allow me to add new places while quickly checking in with a few of my own favorites.
After about the third update, however, things took a turn for the insulting. I submitted a new piece of information and the application returned an error message that said something along the lines of "Slow down and relax, in order to be fair, rapid-fire updates are not accepted."
Slow down and relax?
I am providing you with 100% free content on my own time, I am updating your woefully incomplete feature map of a city, and you admonish me to slow down and relax?
I live life at my own pace you one-eyed fuck weasels, not at your pace. If you want a bunch of lackadaisical short bus riders updating your site then just say so. If you can't keep up, get off your ass, go outside, travel the country, and update your own goddamn service. Don't tell me to slow down and relax when I'm fully ready to go. You're not paying me for my time.
No good deed.
Apparently, this particular app is geared toward iPhone-toting hipsters that sit around coffee shops for 3 hours at a time waiting to be spotted by other iPhone-toting hipsters. They have no use for people who actually get out and, you know, actually do stuff with their phones.
In the end, however, I have nobody to blame but myself for this misguided attempt to help. After all, I did violate my new "my content, my site" rule.
You see, contrary to popular belief, I haven't always been an anti-social asshole who is hostile to every other citizen of the network of globally interconnected computers. It's just that every, and I mean EVERY time I've tried to help other netizens, it's always ended up being to my own detriment.
Allow me to give you another recent example.
When I covered the City Center opening, I took some pictures of the Mandarin Oriental that another business spotted and wanted to use on their own commercial website. When the company emailed me and asked if they could use the photos, I said (as I usually do) "Sure, go ahead, enjoy".
But I didn't stop there. I also said "If you would prefer to have the photos without my watermark to use as your own, I would be happy to provide those to you". The company quickly took me up on my offer, and I was happy to help. I set up an FTP account for them so that they could download the full 8-10 Megapixel files, and I figured all was well with the world.
Now, keep in mind that I did not know anyone that worked at this company, nor did I ask for compensation. The fact of that matter is that I have always been a hidden asset to the promotion of Las Vegas since many photos you saw on your favorite "legitimate" news sources originated from my own camera. Sure, everyone thinks that I am a self-centered, narcissistic, attention-whore, but the fact is that I have actually given away a lot of uncompensated, uncredited content over the years. Sherman Frederick I am not.
It doesn't always work out, though.
Later that day, after the company had downloaded the files from my server, I received an email from them. It was from the company's legal department. In order to fully express their gratitude, they had sent me a form as an email attachment. This form asked for my full name, contact information, and it contained a paragraph which basically required me to transfer all of the rights to my own photographs perpetually and irrevocably to their company. I was supposed to print out this form, sign it, and fax it back to them. Not only that, but they wanted me to do it 'ASAP'. Apparently, spending 30 minutes to remove watermarks and setting up an FTP account was taken to mean that I had no life and that I was so eager to please that I would do just about anything, including signing a document that allowed them to sue me for using my own photos.
Again, no good deed.
I (politely) told them to go shit in their hat and that was that.
Unfortunately, this has been the usual outcome when I have tried to play nicely or participate in other people's endeavors. It never works out, because it's never appreciated. I always end up being treated like an indentured servant to the site owner.
When I first moved to Las Vegas, I really had no desire to start my own blog. Instead, I spent a great amount of time trying to enrich the websites of others. I tried participating on the Righthaven-Journal site, yet when I had the audacity to correct an error by one of their writers, my account was quickly banished to the seventh circle of hell.
Another time I went to the MGM Grand Poker Room, had a less-than-steller experience, and wrote an in-depth review and trip report for someone else's poker site. When all was said and done, the review was rejected and not published.
I don't know.
It was way more complete and detailed than almost all of the other reviews. Someone later told me that it was because the site was an MGM/Mirage advertising affiliate, but I can neither confirm or deny the accuracy of that.
I do know that I really resented working as a volunteer for a for-profit endeavor. Had they published my report, other people would have read it and the site would have gotten 100% of the ad revenue for the views. If I owned a publication and my writers were willing to work for free, I would bend over backwards to treat them really well.
Not so, with most other websites. Most web services "moderate" the users that bring valuable content to them free of charge. It's just accepted practice on the Internet because, let's face it, the average IQ of the typical Internet user is 98 (48 if you factor in Canadians).
The final straw for me came when I was having car trouble. I went to a "Vegas" message board and asked if anyone could recommend a good, local mechanic. The next time I logged into that board I had a scolding message from the Webbastard telling me that my post had been deleted because it was 'off-topic' and that if I posted another off-topic message my account would be deleted. To add insult to injury, I later found out that the guy who ran the Vegas board didn't even live in Las Vegas. He had never lived in Las Vegas. It was like realizing that the "authentic" picante sauce I had been eating for the past month was made in NEW YORK CITY!
Get a rope.
On the back of the above events, VegasRex was born, and this was a large part of why the site had a hostile, us-against-them vibe. It pretty much was us against all of those other cocksmokers. We didn't want the jizz of PR folks running down our chin day in and day out, and we wanted to be able to ask for mechanic recommendations without some little peckersniff moderator getting his tampon bent out of shape.
Anyway, instead of adding places to the Foursquare database, I went about my day in Olympia and sent up my own live shots.
I filled up my water bottles at the artesian well in Downtown, stopped by Big Tom for some prawns and clam chowder, weathered a rain storm on the Capitol grounds, and added to my already growing stash of local photos.
This was the first time I had gotten prawns at Big Tom, and they were good (they are dipped in coconut batter), but at ten bucks for four they were slightly overpriced. I used to eat these things by the dozen at Vegas buffets. I usually get my fried prawns from an Aberdeen drive-thru and will probably continue doing so. That noted, Tom's hamburgers are second only to Van's when it comes to taste.
Olympia is the vegetarian capital of the world, but for some reason they have the best tasting cow in the nation. Irony. I've eaten hamburgers from coast-to-coast, and western Washington has the best burger joints on the planet. I've no idea why this is.
During my outing, I passed at least a dozen notable spots that were not in the Foursquare database ... and which still aren't in their database. Perhaps they will get there eventually, but if the rest of social media is any indicator, they will get there in a shitty and half-assed manner.
For the most part, social media itself is a cancer upon the Internet. People used to craft elaborate homepages that they made themselves, and they used to work hours upon hours to create content for those pages. They used to write complete articles outlining their opinions and hypotheses. Now ... they tweet. One line of text, an obligatory 'LOL', and maybe a single cellphone picture if you are really lucky. It's all a part of the dumbing down of society. Social media penalizes effort and rewards mediocrity.
When I got home, I deleted my Foursquare account, and I once again endeavored that ... if I want the Internet to know about something ... I'll tell them myself, on my own website. Note the 'smell ya later' toward the bottom of the delete account confirmation page. They couldn't even man up enough to tell me to fuck off.
And thus ends arguably my final attempt to ever use my own resources solely to better someone else's site or service. Life already has too many arbitrary rules, and I'm not going to jump through hoops and work as a volunteer for a company which will likely go on to make billions of dollars. Aside from insanely low levels of self-esteem, I don't know why anyone would.
My content will go on my own sites, and as far as I'm concerned, every other site owner out there can nuzzle the nut cleft on my hairy hacky sack.
And that's all I have to say about that.
I sure hope I didn't exceed 140 characters.