Foursquare or Gowalla?

I just officially registered on Gowalla, a site that Mashable has listed as one of the up-and-coming social media sites to know.  For Mashable’s run-down on the pros and cons of both Gowalla and Foursquare, check out this article.

Gowalla is much like Twitter because it is primarily used via mobile device; the only difference is that Gowalla is centered on travel, rather than conversation.  

A destination that a user travels to, or frequents, and then logs into the system, is termed by Gowalla as a “check-in.” These “check-ins” enable friends and strangers alike to get to know each other, in a manner of speaking, by “checking-in” at chosen favored destinations around the world. Though you can enter these “check-ins” or new “spots” via the web, the site has better accuracy when spots are entered via mobile device because the program works off of what Gowalla terms “elastic GPS.” This is essentially (for non-techies like me) just a really accurate way of pinpointing your location.

Gowalla’s basic framework is not very different from the competing and also up-and-coming site, Foursquare, which offers all of the same components, but with one big drawback — Foursquare does not provide discounts (at least not yet) to favored user destinations as Gowalla does.

Both Foursquare and Gowalla have been chosen future site up-and-comers by the social media and fashion communities, and both sites are easily compatible with Facebook, Twitter, and most mobile phones; but the market clincher just may be the discounts offered by Gowalla. Though, Gowalla does have some usability issues in the design and tracking departments that could create problems for them. While Foursquare can easily add a discount feature, redesigning the layout and tracking functions for Gowalla would prove a much more intensive undertaking.

Though neither is widely known enough yet to have all the kinks worked out or the bolstering of a solid social network to take the online and mobile communities by storm right here and now, they will both probably become household terms over the next two years or so.

And I have to say, as much of a pain as it is learning a new site that is still in-progress, and without the benefit of a high-end mobile phone (I’m a Virgin Mobile user, sadly many apps are not available to us), I think the discounts will be well worth the effort in the long-run.

The added beauty of Gowalla is that it combines the conversational / interactive aspect of social media along with the thrill of travel and scavenger hunting. Yes, I did say scavenger hunting. To my mind, Gowalla is somewhat similar to one of my favorite kill time sites, scvngr.com, which facilitates both mobile and live-action scavengers; the only difference is that on Gowalla you’re scavenging for destinations, rather than prizes.

I must state that I don’t as of yet have a personal preference between the two sites. I am registered on both, and prefer the layout and functionality of Foursquare, but like the discount options on Gowalla. Hmm…I guess I’ll just have to remain registered and active on both until one wins out and grabs my full attention.

But for the moment, I’ve found two sites that allow me to travel to interesting spots, log them, and get inside tips from other travel loggers, while possibly acquiring discounts, and making friends along the way, I say Foursquare…Gowalla!

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