Foursquare Google Maps Mashup

I'm doing a keynote presentation today at the Geo Loco Conference in San Francisco. In putting together the visuals for my talk, I wanted to show my Foursquare checkins from my recent trip to europe on google maps.

So a little googling around led me to this post which explains how to do it:

  • Visit your foursquare feeds
    page. Right click the KML link and copy it to your clipboard (don’t
    download it).

  • Visit Google
    and paste the link you copied into the search box. Hit enter.

It is so simple and easy to do. Here is the visual that I wanted to create:

Foursquare checkins

And you get a list of checkins that you can share via the google maps sharing features. Here's a list of all the checkins I did in Zurich, for example.

Foursquare checkins in zurich 

I would love to save these foursquare feeds in discrete chunks like this for future reference. Someone sends me an email saying "what did you do that was fun in Zurich?". I could simply send them this list of checkins. So simple, so easy, so useful. I love it.

#Blogging On The Road#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. LIAD

    What you’ve got now is a (partial & curated) log of your location – it doesn’t have context yet.Checking in somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean it was fun or enjoyable – could actually mean the opposite – Zurich Airport?For what you want to happen we need to be able to add annotations to the check-in data.type of checkin – leisure/businesson arrival felt – great/suicidalon leaving felt – elated/depressedspent money – yes/nowould recommend – hell yes/no way – Could then do great stuff with the dataI see twitter and foursquare converging on this

    1. William Mougayar

      Liad- The issue is the amount of time it takes to enter all this info. Balancing simplicity with usefulness is a tricky balance.

      1. LIAD

        i hear you and completely agree. – its the only way though that a checkin becomes more than just a log of location. – annotations don’t need to be mandatory but their existence would make the offering a lot richer. – a talented UI designer could do wonders though on making it super quick and easy to checkin even with an additional 3/4 data fields.

        1. daryn

          1. I’d be curious to know the percentage of foursquare check-ins with a note versus without one. That’s a super-simple step that I often skip, so 3/4 more fields probably wouldn’t help.2. Often you won’t know how to describe your experiene until after you’ve left / well after checkin, so any additional data would be best collected after-the-fact versus at checkin time.

        2. fredwilson

          annotations are going to be huge, for twitter and for many others

      2. markslater

        usefullness? i read a google presentation the other day on user interfacing and the social web. It made the distinction between applications being a ‘means” or an ‘end’. FS is a ‘means’ by which you express yourself socially, not an end.

        1. William Mougayar

          I agree but for some extreme users it is the endAlso, part if this is still experimental as we’re discovering new uses everyday such as this one from Fred

    2. Mark Essel

      would be wicked if something like zemanta could get context and sentiment (like button in foursquare) from Fred’s or Gotham Gal’s blog.

      1. LIAD

        we’re doing Big Brothers work for him. – how long until law enforcement subpoena a users 4SQ checkin history? – 4SQ will comply just like everyone else has in the past – then the fun really begins.

        1. Rocky Agrawal

          Some of this could be automated over time. If someone keeps going back to a restaurant or bar (and !employee), you could reasonably assume they like it. Of course, this varies by venue — same doesn’t hold true for an airport necessarily.

          1. LIAD

            “you’ve checked into this restaurant everyday for the last 2 weeks – you love it don’t you?”- “nope, just casing the joint”

          2. fredwilson

            danny meyer, one of the greatest restaurant owners of the current generation, says he aims to make his restaurants his customers favorite places, not necessarily the “best places”there is a difference

          3. fredwilson

            i have been on planes five of the past six days and will take another flight tomorrowand i hate plansso you are right about airports

          4. Rocky Agrawal

            speaking of airports and foursquare, i think they provide an interesting insight into a future of foursquare. they’re among the venues that get enough traffic that they’ve got a really rich set of data around them in tips. i spent some time looking at them last time i went through’s a sample of what i found:

          5. LIAD

            “you’ve checked into this restaurant everyday for the last 2 weeks – you love it don’t you?” – “nope, just casing the joint”

        2. ShanaC

          Actually I was thinking with this at one point, the age 13-18 crowd with something like 4sq/twitter and location is lethal/good for the police.

    3. Bora Celik

      Haha LIAD you’re so on point – suicidal :)Sorry Fred but that check-in data tells me nothing about where I should be going to. They could be all terrible places and there is no way to know…

      1. fredwilson

        true, unless my checkin includes something like “awesome crudo, you have to check it out”then you know

    4. Guest

      True! You still need a Love and Hate button …

      1. fredwilson

        love is 10 checkins or morehate is a shout that “this place sucked”

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          That’s why – especially when at a hotel or eating – I generally prefer to ‘check in’ upon actually checking-out – that way I can comment in an informed way about the experience.

          1. mrcai

            On one hand you checkin to let friends know where you areOn the other hand you checkout to let people know how the experience was.There’s something in that

    5. fredwilson

      yes, but check out my shouts in each checkinthere is context in those checkinsmaybe not as much as we’d all likebut they are not vacant

  2. mwunsch

    Just came across a great little Sinatra app from New York’s own Pat Nakajima that does something really similar:

  3. Julien

    Would these feeds be PubSubHubbub, then you could have this map be automatically updated as long as you perform checkins somewhere…

    1. Mark Essel

      Julien always looking for a great new killer app for pubsub ;)Coffee cold? Superfeedr will update itBread stale. SuperfeedrTrained ninja assassins out to get you? Superfeedr will push that update to your mobile before the first throwing star hits.

    2. fredwilson

      cool idea

  4. Mark Essel

    If people were robots this product would be killer.I admit to being more bot than human some daysCould be a conversation killer when a friend wants to know why you liked specific spots. You send the list and feel the conversation is done.great tool idea though, maybe as an conversation initiator. The map reciever can quickly see what spots he recognizes and you can discuss them.Or as a Geo clustering tool, we can see who are highest overlapping check in friends are. Maybe even meet people that way?

  5. William Mougayar

    User-generated content is about to go on steroids.

      1. William Mougayar

        Prescient post indeed.So much has happened in 2 years!

    1. Mark Essel

      Steroids turns into greater health care down the road, we’ve got enough ;)Agree that user apps are growing fast. Wonder what opportunities that will bring? Easier WYSIWYG app builders like Google’s new tool. The best IDE for regular people will explode in valueRemote hosting companies like Rackspace, Amazon, Heroku, Dropbox, and Google will grow

      1. Jared McKiernan

        foursquare is a long way from hitting “regular people” however- not that it needs them to be successful, but it’s easy to forget about those in suburban/small city America…checking in at Wal-Mart and Applebee’s is not something you’d expect to yet become popular although who knows perhaps it could catch on in such areasi guess there could be more interest in developing, but there definitely is an upper limit to how many people have the desire to do such things no matter how user-friendly it is…even in a trivially easy system i’d expect most people to not develop anything ever or even hear that it exists.i am somewhat frightened of what will be created with user generated content on steroids…

        1. Mike

          Jared,I agree and disagree. I think the development angle could provide valuable information to people without them really knowing about the value of Foursquare. One example is the news this week that they are talking w/ Google about incorporating their data w/ search.Another example is what I’m currently building. My website is focused on providing apartment hunters with up to the minute information about deals and availability in their area (currently in DFW, then all over Texas, then national…).And though we’re still in our infancy, building an app around Foursquare/GoWalla makes a lot of sense. I.e. someone simply provides us a zipcode, and we send them the top deals in their area or what’s currently trending. They could potentially not even create an account and still receive highly valuable information.

        2. fredwilson

          that was true when they had 200,000 userswhen you have 2.1mm users and are adding 20k per day, there are some “regular people” in there

          1. markslater

            GETSMS has built an engine that cuts through all of this and connects a consumer with an audience of local merchants in real time who compete for the business. its launching in September. Checkin in is great and thats a means to an end – but having merchants compete for your business via text or push app is an end and not a means.

      2. ShanaC

        Unless you have asmtha. Maybe we don’t make enough stuff and have asmtha of making stuff.

  6. ShanaC

    I know that locations are already tagged, but customs tags may be interesting. Like “maps of coffee shops that I like” would be useful. “museums I would share with you and how to get there”Etc.

  7. Satish Mummareddy

    Wow. The conference is next to my apt building. Too expensive to attend. πŸ™‚ (I live at the UCSF Misson Bay campus housing.) Maybe we’ll run into each other at the Philz coffee place. πŸ˜›

    1. fredwilson

      i am meeting someone for coffee at “just for you” at 7:45amif you are nearby, stop by and say hi

  8. Harry DeMott

    Cool. Will Foursquare aggregate check-in’s by town or zip code over time – or just by the latest visit. Thus, if someone asks me about New Canaan and I want to share this sort of information, are they only going to get where I went last night (Aloi and Gelatissimo) or where I have been over time so they get a more complete view? Also, talking with the waiter at Aloi (who was the Mayor), he also runs a social media company helping restaurants, bars, etc… get with social media – and when I asked him whether or not the restaurant really used it – he said no – as there was no one really dedicated to monitoring the foursquare feed during service – so they might see stuff later – but not in real time where it might be more and more useful. There has to be a better way of getting the real time feed to the folks running the business – otherwise, it is no different for them than it has been for centuries (you know who your best customers are)

    1. ajit

      Harry – I think that there is a tremendous opportunity to provide hospitality establishments with real-time data and have it used ‘in-service.’I see front of house employees tweeting on behalf of restaurants in Boston right now in order to market themselves. In fact, those ‘in-service’ tweets are sometimes what brings me to the restaurant. And many restaurants have computerized reservation systems that can provide the infrastructure to support social interaction (even those OpenTable boxes). UrbanSpoon’s Reservation product is an iPad app meant to be used in service on the iPad.I believe that the real value to both consumers and venues is the aggregation and combined analysis of all of this venue specific data regardless of source [Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Foodspotting, Yelp, etc) in real time and on one platform.That is what we’re doing at GoodEatsFor.Me and that has provided us with a rich understanding of consumer sentiment/preference, operational data, recommendations and customer loyalty across venues. Once you understand how this data affects your business, you can act on it.Best,Ajit VergheseCo-Founder: http://www.GoodEatsFor.Me(t) @averghese

    2. fredwilson

      that is the feature request of sorts at the end of my postyou just framed it better than i didnicely done!

  9. Pablo Estrada

    I think it’s a great idea and opens up many possibilities.Have you seen SimpleGeo’s recent post about this?Explore your Foursquare checkins on a map with SimpleGeoI took this code and modified it to work with Twitter (also posted on the SimpleGeo blog):How to drop geo-tagged tweets into a SimpleGeo layerps – it would also be cool to see all the places your son checked into!

  10. kagilandam

    It is for sure that everyone will share their lives on the internet. For processing that data we need a Googol**Googol (power of).The biggest challenge is to get the signal-out-of the noise. Even out of 12-list above i don’t think anyone has any clue on what is noise and what is signal. The problem with filtering is u would loose lot of data when the SNR is too low.

    1. fredwilson

      signal out of noisethat is a great investment thesis for the next decade of the internet

      1. kagilandam

        Great to hear that.My sincere request to you … don’t give it to statistician…they will take all your investment and return a thesis!! πŸ™‚ … let the noise removal be user-driven (like google’s page ranking).

  11. skysurfer172

    Last item in the instructions I found useful:adding β€œ?count=100β€³ to the end of the URL (after .KML) you copied will increase (or decrease) the number of venues shown. You can change it to any number you like.Easily lets you portion off the latest section of your feed to create a map that focuses on, say, a trip to Europe. πŸ™‚ But, yea, pulling discrete chunks and saving for later is an awesome idea.

    1. fredwilson

      whoa, that is so cool. i missed that.

  12. reece

    pretty sweet little trick.i know i get asked for recommendations on places to go/things to do all over the place and it’d be so much easier to just use this.wish i’d had it when i backpacked around the world 4 years ago.

  13. Morgan Warstler

    I will continue to ask:Dear 4SQUARE,Please create a Happy Hour Game/App that provides points for people data entering the happy hour menu specials and times for the bars they go to.It is always happy hour somewhere and I want to know where the closest one is.

    1. Michael Rakowski

      That’s a great idea. The Foursquare API would be perfect for that.

      1. Morgan Warstler

        Yah, the issue I think is that to speedily populate the db, there needs to be some incentive for users to do the data entry. I’d say lots of checkin pts is worthwhile.But I think the audience is bigger than Groupon, it doesn’t carry coupon stigma.It also puts bars on notice, actually gives them something to compete on within 4SQ… a better Happy Hour.

        1. Michael Rakowski

          Yeah there would have to some kind of incentive. One way to solve that would be with a new badge. I can picture it now: “Chief Magistrate of Happy Hour” or “Officer of Happy Hour”.

          1. Morgan Warstler

            Good stuff. What’s more let me see which happy hour officers are out and about, and let me ping an email poll to my buddies, giving them choice of happy hours to pick where we’re going.

    2. ShanaC

      We all need to get Happy. Ok, that sounds wrong. But I agree with the comments about how the API is perfect for this.That and taking up where triptick (those things from AAA where they would give you the route and all the fun stuff to do along the way) would be amazing.

  14. Chris Kurdziel

    This is a great idea. I would love to see it export easily. I use Evernote for a lot of my personal journal/notetaking and it would be great to be able to import this type of map with a list of checkins and dates into an Evernote notebook so I could track a vacation all in one spot.

  15. Joe Siewert

    “Where Do You Go” is another app along these lines that does a neat heat map visualization of places you’ve been. Not sure if other functionality has been added since I last looked at it.

  16. Deleted User

    I’m shocked this is still worth an article. 4sq provides a .kml of your checkin history for ages.

    1. fredwilson

      Well I just learned about it yesterday so it is news to me and apparently alot of others considering the comment thread and the number of RTs

  17. needcaffeine

    cool; looks like about 2+ weeks of data. looks like you’re looking for a mashup of Dopplr & Foursquare?

  18. Zsombor Szabo

    We recently released OpenMaps, a great iOS map app, that let’s you do just this. But it doesn’t stop there, you can view all your friends’ geotagged tweets/replies on the map and scan the map for public geotagged tweets too. It’s free so try it out and hit me up if you have any questions:

  19. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Simple, fun and useful. Perfect.I never did understand the benefits of the Dopplr approach, let alone its subsequent valuation.I wish these tools had been around when I travelled more frequently.

    1. ShanaC

      where you will be- so that people will meet you. That’s also obvious. Both of these are different approaches to time. We’re just not sure where the web will converge around the time module.

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Of course – if that’s what one prefers – but it’s that pre-planned implication of a commitment that I disliked with Dopplr. One then gets into the loop of “Oh, you’re there same time as me, let’s meet up! Who you seeing? What are you doing?” – etc etc – then one can get into a unnecessary dialogue of reasons why one may not wish to meet up or go into any detail.I find (found) it all a bit unnatural, the Dopplr approach.4Sq hits the zeitgeist of modern life far better in the ad hoc and impulsive nature of modern life/business.

        1. ShanaC

          Our meaning of time in the digital age has, I totally agree, changed radically. I think actually the killer app isn’t just GeoLoco’s understanding how GeoLoco changes time in a usable way for some sort of specific sets of users.Dopplr failed on the planning part, perhaps. A lot of people are using There seems to be some sort of need here to understand place with its friend anytime.Then there are specific uses of time. Hillary Mason did some great charts about when people tweet in New York versus Washington. We’re totally not leveraging that information AT ALL.

  20. Brad Dickason

    I completely agree on the saving tip. A friend of mine only checks into ‘Restaurants he would recommend to friends.’ If a friend visits Boston, for example, he wants to look back at his check-in history and give them access to a personally curated and visited list.I’m not sure if he can do this now, but I definitely see value in it. If you’ve got a similar need, Foursquare Lists might not be far away!

  21. Donna Brewington White

    After stirring up a frenzy or two…a quieter, gentler post. πŸ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      i left the stirring up a frenzy to the live in person thing today

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Hope that means your keynote went well. Will we be hearing about that?

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Well, we’re certainly hearing about it today, lol.It’s refreshing to have something emotive said in this industry now and then!

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Ahhh…catching up on some of yesterday’s events…see what you mean.

        2. fredwilson

          i don’t know if it went welli said some very controversial things that have been widely blogged thisafternoon

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Sometimes I think you are too hard on yourself. Your track record of graciousness and taking the high road speaks for itself. You’ve built the social equity to say something controversial now and again.BTW — never got this response through email. Noticed this with other comments too.

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Good man πŸ™‚

  22. Maps

    You may want to check out We’ve had the exact feature you describe, and then your map is shareable:…Thanks,Brad

  23. Joe Lazarus

    It should be pretty easy to pull your full FourSquare checkin history using the ICS feed, filter it by location or date range, and output that snapshot as a KML feed or a map. That way, you could quickly generate a map of say all your checkins from March or from your trip to Zurich. You could do it with Yahoo Pipes as a hack prototype. Maybe I’ll take a stab at that when I have some time later.

    1. willwhutson

      you love your pipes :)i’m a big fan of the one!

      1. fredwilson


    2. fredwilson

      you are the king of the mashup joeevery week i see my picks show up in tumblr and am reminded of that

      1. Joe Lazarus

        Aww shucks. My mashups are limited to Yahoo Pipes since I don’t haveprogramming skills. I’m jealous of the people who can actually code thesesorts of things.

    3. Ants Maran

      What if automated pull out of checkin history where turned around to create checkin/out locations at the sites visited and checkin where automated when mobile with app on where entering that location? It’s possible to do…but do FourSquare users want it?

  24. kenberger

    Fred: at this rate, could be soon that all this will provide the “Nearest” app functionality that you and I discussed almost 5 years ago. All it would need is a tagging structure added to it. Might not even need that.

    1. fredwilson

      my daughter emily is one of those people who wants to optimize her choiceswe’ll be in the center of zurich and its lunchtime and she wants to go to visit her favorite blogs and find out where we should go get lunchi said to her that if she checked in everywhere, she could simply see all places in a six block radius that people who check in to the same places she checks into goshe loved that idea

  25. JGuz

    Someone sends me an email saying “what did you do that was fun in Zurich?”.This could almost be a service on its own, maybe with in-network information like this tied to the users location. So if I “followed” Fred and went to Zurich, his checkins/recommendations would become apparent to me. Game mechanics here could be building up a recommendations coverage map. Annotations as mentioned could also really help this type of feature.

    1. fredwilson

      i want to follow Jeff Koons around the permanent collection at the Pompidou

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Cool. But, we should never lose sight of the simple/random pleasure of making one’s own unexpected discoveries when travelling. Must never run the risk of losing such accidental delights and moments of serendipity – let’s not get too structured πŸ˜‰

  26. scantron

    Is there anyway to map out tweets based on hashtags? that’s what I’d like to know!

  27. Tom Saunter

    Awesome! But bear in mind, there are degrees to which people are willing to share their location history.For those who want to tell their blog readers their last check-in address, and nothing more, I’ve made the ‘Foursquare Map for WordPress’ plugin – available from….

  28. thewalrus

    i’m officially converted. i’ve been stick-in-the-mud on the current 4square value prop. but these kind of things really show how they are perfectly executing on the MASSIVENESS of the opportunity. amazing potential….really looking forward to what they will continue to push out.BTW: as a fanboy, please don’t let battelle bait you into the highschool drama of the tech blogosphere…… you are the rare person who always chooses the higher ground. thanks πŸ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      that was not my finest moment.

      1. thewalrus

        hey, no stress. sometimes we want to stir the soup, even though it doesn’t really need it. and my comment makes me sound like a self-entitled a** anyways. just wanted to let you know i greatly respect that your reputation is built without needing the ‘cheap thrills’ approach……its never the easiest path.

  29. Boaz

    Take a look at MapHook (no endorsement implied and no promotional fee paid) – although it doesn’t look like they have any Foursquare integration

  30. Christian ο£Ώ

    sorry…2 times….

  31. Christian ο£Ώ

    @fredwilson Would be nice if you could share with us your Geo Loco Conference keynote or video, thanks

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t know if they taped it. i’ll find out

      1. Christian ο£Ώ

        I assume it’s not taped?

  32. Geoff

    Maybe foursquare could do a deal with FON and get to offer free wifi at foursquared locations πŸ™‚ That would really encourage folks to check in !

  33. Dan Dunn


  34. Hammer

    Are you kidding me?This is a good idea? For whom, precisely, is this a good idea?World travelers, looking for designer leather goods, in Milan?Oh my..

  35. JoeColleen

    Very good. We are big on biking around our community, and mapping the check-ins of our bike routes would not only be fun, but good for business.

  36. Ralph

    I think Tagwhat is more effective for this. You can create your own tours with multimedia by location online and in augmented reality. Of course Foursquare is already integrated, but Tagwhat is more free form and open than Foursquare.

  37. Arora97

    check out this new data visualization tool for Foursquare — these guys just launched this a few days ago. awesome:

  38. Fred T

    or fasttrak here. it’d be easy to find someone’s itinerary. good for sales and various meetings all over town.