There is an interesting tension of living in a big city, surrounded by people, yet easily falling into a same old same old routine. While maps and way finding were a major initial land grab in the digital urban layer the game play and inter-personal layer is now emerging. Evolved ways of exploring and appreciating your immediate urban environment.
In North America Four Square is getting a lot of buzz but I really like Noticings in London. Where Four Square seems on the verge of becoming a new coupon tactic Noticings is more a introspective and philosophical approach to viewing your city. Slowing down and appreciating what's great about.
This whole notion of the blurring of lines between digital and real worlds is absurd. They are on into the same. These new properties like a Four Square or Noticings are interesting mostly for the differing backgounds of their creators. One comes from a technology background another design. Both are intimately shaped by their mindsets and craft. Both are equally great because of it.
How our behaviors will evolve because of this will be interesting. On one end an echo chamber like affect reinforcing within a network the same old, same old. On the other hand encouraging greater exploration and travel across urban boundaries both perceived, imagined and geographical.
I love it when a brand can relevantly invest such a property that can be leveraged into an experiential or retail product. Sadly, sometimes these things seem so desperate for a business model the old slap on some ads and coupons approach quickly devalues deeper value and meaning. The last thing brands need new technology for is to erode pricing power by offering coupons. New technology is relevant and meaningful when it adds value to a brand/product, makes you want it more, use it more, love it more or evangelize it more.
Or something like that. Time to go play some games...