When you enter a restaurant at this year’s SXSW, Foursquare’s new Hypertrending feature will know. Your phone appears as a blix on a live map that can literally access anyone in Austin, Texas. And Foursquare co-founder and CEO Dennis Crowley just want to know: do you think this idea is unpleasant or not?
“If this freaks people out, we don’t build things with it,” Crowley told TechCrunch speaks past the fact that he has obviously already done so at SXSW.
Keep in mind that Hypertrending is anonymous in the sense that no one should be able to down exactly what is inside a restaurant or bar. It is designed to allow other Foursquare users to see which facilities are popular, but more visually than Foursquare’s trend measures have previously given. When more people pour in, the circle becomes larger, indicating “Hi, this place is happening right now!” It seems potentially useful.
But Hypertrending has some practical issues: a restaurant may not look busy in the app, but it can be flooded with people who do not use Foursquare. It can also theoretically mean a security risk, because you can see how many (or how few) people are packed into a space. Should something bad happen, it is not necessarily just Foursquare users that will be affected. And it does not count on the possibilities of abuse if Foursquare or partners stop tracking people in a less than completely anonymous way, not that we suggest they should.
Foursquare doesn’t roll the feature except Austin, Texas quite anyway, but you don’t have to wait to tell Foursquare’s boss what he should already know in his heart to be true. It is rare for technical companies to give us so much advance warning, and so here’s your chance to tell Foursquare about Hypertrending is the feature for you.