I made a business trip to Copenhagen some days ago. Weather was surprisingly warm and it was terrific trip in every way, no complaints what so ever. In fact the presentations and discussions in Copenhagen Business School would be worth a blog post of their own, but I´ll leave reflecting upon those into our travel group´s LinkedIn discussion board. Instead I´ll share some thoughts and learning experiences about using social media (SO-ME for short, in order to get a pithy title for the blog post ;-)) when exploring a new city. What started out as a small experiment, turned out to be a super learning experience and marvelous example of serendipity in action!
...SO-ME in the City
I´ve been to Copenhagen a couple of times before, but a big city offers always something new especially when you do some homework before you go. It is also nice to know what is going on in the city you are visiting. So before the trip I did some basic preparations, read Copenhagen Post online and created a “Copenhagen layer” including my destinations on my Google maps. In addition to those usual things I decided to try out something new: I saved twitter searches with words “Copenhagen” and “cph”. Those were really simple to add as columns into my Android mobile phone´s Tweetdeck application and browse them through every now and then. So whenever somebody tweeted anything that included the words Copenhagen or cph, it would show up on my radar.
Naturally most of the tweets weren´t at all interesting from my perspective. Well, I got the information that Copenhagen´s contaminated tap water was announced to be clear again conveniently from twitter. But then one particular tweet looked very interesting:
This twitter user Naveen turned out to be a co-founder of a location-based social networking service Foursquare. He was coming to town and foursquare meet arrangements for the next day were taking place at meetup.com site. This was an opportunity you just cannot pass. Luckily my official agenda for the particular day ended around 4pm and dinner was late on the evening. There was just enough time to check this out!
And on the next evening there I was, on the second floor small back room of Café Retro, standing a pint in my hand next to this business innovator, listening to him talking about the Foursquare.com service. Pretty amazing, I never imagined anything like this to happen when I was making my travel arrangements a couple of days before! It was a shame that I had to leave the meet pretty early and rush off to dinner that was on my original plan for the evening. But on the other hand, we had an excellent evening with the group of executives that I was travelling.
The Foursquare itself was actually quite useful service during my stay in Copenhagen. You can use it as a digital city guide, check yourself into places, read tips and recommendations by other people about different places. In Finland there are not so many Foursquare users and you usually know the places you go. But instead in a big foreign city with a lot of users (meaning a lot of content) the service is pretty neat.
Of course these kind of services come and go and can get quite easily replaced by far superior innovations that we cannot even imagine at the moment. If this blog post now may offer some inspirations for someone, it is easy to think that after some time these thoughts probably look outdated and ancient. That´s how it goes. However, on a general level it is fascinating to think for example:
- What kind of “digital layer” and reality services like these will eventually add to cities? And I don´t mean a virtual reality, but instead real tips&news&updates about real places, from real people, delivered to your mobile device with satellite tracking accuracy
- How will these new ways of communicating form different patterns for social interaction with people we don´t know yet. Traditional way of interacting with strangers is mainly to stare them on the sidewalk and perhaps open up a conversation in a bar. How common these new kind of spontaneous get-togethers of like-minded people will be?
Back of my neck getting dirt and gritty...
Now I´m again one experience richer. And in case this writing offered some ideas and inspiration for someone, it was worthwhile to write it when I was killing time on Kongens Nytorv square before leaving to the airport. Go ahead and try these approaches yourself. For advanced internet users there was nothing totally new here, but I think for many people this could make travelling more interesting. Travelling, including business travelling, is supposed to be also about new ideas and learning experiences, right?
And to make it simple and tempting for those of you who find the whole social media a bit strange: Yes, you can do twitter searches even without a Twitter user account. And yes, you can use Foursquare as a city guide without checking into places and revealing your whereabouts to anyone.
By the way, I have a couple of other business trips abroad on my calendar for this fall. So any tips and comments for my “SO-Me in the city” -practicing are more than welcome.
And just in case that song started to play also in your head, here it is: