Thummit: Food Reviewing Comes to Your Phone

picture-4Have you ever found yourself sitting in a restaurant and completely turned off by the service you received? Or maybe you experience the best crab cake you have ever had?

Up until recently, the best you could do was go submit your review to sites like Yelp – if you remembered when you got home. Thummit, a Launchbox Digital incubation company based in Washington, D.C. hopes to solve that and similar problems for you using your cell phone.

The idea is simple, and builds on the successes of other mobile companies like Twitter: You send a text message to a designated number with your thumbs up, thumbs down, so-so markup and the service stores that review.

In a demo given to a small group of bloggers in their hip office space in the middle of Chinatown, co-founder Sean Greene outlined use cases where Google local results for pizza in Dupont Circle yields chain blasé such as Pizza Hut and California Pizza Kitchen while Thummit yields much more acceptable results for a foodie in Dupont: Pizza Paradiso, Alberto’s and Anna Maria’s Italian Restaurant.

The service is not open to the public as of yet and there is still a lot of work to be done. The service has been seeded by review content (fair use) from sources like Zagat and other restaurant review sites so new users will not feel like the community is dead.

Socially, the service assumes that as a user, you will get your most use out of it if you have trusted connections of friends and contacts who provide great reviews and might be inline with your own tastes. By cultivating that community and social network aspect, they hope to provide tailor-made results to you based on your preferences and trusted social connections.

Text messaging is the cornerstone, but even that remains to be fleshed out completely.

The usefulness of this service is, of course, the immediacy of mobile and content. I may not be inspired to write something on Yelp when I get home, but I am now and by God, I have a phone! This also takes the web technology aspect of reviews to a new level, further marginalizing the one-way communications of your daily circular’s restaurant reviews.

WordPress Plugin: WP-Brightkite

Some of you have noticed that I’ve been doing some experimentation in recent months with geolocation. Geolocation is a very powerful aspect of the next generation web. Particularly in the mobile space.

Boulder, CO-based Brightkite stormed on the scene a few months back as a location based micro blogging network. Members could take photos from the cellphones, send short messages to be posted to the service, and follow their friends. Based on the concept of location, Brightkite users could “check in” to a location. I am currently checked in at “Woodlawn, Maryland”, a fairly generic location since I value my privacy in my home. However, people can check-in down to specific addresses, cafés, places of employment, etc.

Though my fascination with Brightkite as a mobile microcontent network has faded, their is one aspect to it that I find extremely valuable in the absence of GPS on my Blackberry and the lack of ownership of an iPhone 3G. That is their KML file.

I set about creating a plugin that would parse the KML file of the most recent Brightkite check in location. Thus, WP-Brightkite was born.

Notably, for those folks interested in the geotagging content, the Brightkite plugin will parse latitude and longitude of the most recent checkin and geotag feeds using the ICBM RSS namespace. For a little extra bling, I’ve provided a template tag which drops a little Google Map next to the subject line of posts with geotagging (see this post, for instance).

  1. Upload the
    1
    wp-brightkite/

    directory to

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    /wp-content/plugins/
  2. Activate the plugin through the ‘Plugins’ menu in WordPress
  3. Fill out Brightkite user data on your profile page. Note: Standard WP permissions apply.
  4. Use the
    1
     

    within your template to print a mini 10×10 map icon, clickable for Google Maps location.

There’s quite a bit more I want to do with this, but since I’ve been using it here on Technosailor.com for a few months, I wanted to get it into the wild and fix any bugs (thus the beta tag) before exploring more functionality.

Let me know what you think, and consider a donation.

Update: Please log a ticket here if you are having difficulties. You must login with your WordPress Support Forums username and password (here) to get new ticket creation options. The comment system I have here does not seem to be sending people notices of followups on support requests.

When logging a ticket, please tell me what version of PHP you are using and what version of WordPress you are using. Thanks.

A Manifesto for Mobile and Location Based Social Networks

Mobile is hot. Untethering from computers is the next generation of the web and I’ve said it for awhile.

FindWhere CEO Jaap Groot and my friend and DoC co-host Geoff Livingston have co-authored a white paper (they call it a manifesto) for mobile and location-based social networks outlining eight requirements for a successful mobile endeavor.

The true local, mobile and social breakthrough requires a completely converged product that will be so intuitive and robust that community members won’t have to wrestle with such a service. Instead, it will be so easy and fun, online community members will clamor to be a part of the craze. They will actively engage, and voluntarily spread the word about their experiences, in hopes that their friends will join them online. The winning service will be so compelling that it will be viral.

They go on to describe the eight factors:

  1. Provide a base offering free of charge. Today’s social network user does not tolerate paid-for services.
  2. Work on a wide selection of phones.
  3. Offer an intelligent, simple user interface for accessing information.
  4. Use GPS rather than force users to manually enter their location every time.
  5. Integrate intelligently into existing social networks rather than further inundate people with a new one.
  6. Allow users to share and use their location data in as many ways as possible.
  7. Enable individuals to set various levels of privacy control for personal security.
  8. Monetize in an intelligent, non-intrusive way

Some of these factors are implemented better than others and some are not technically possible with the mobile client and telcos the way they exist now. Things need to change within the four walls of the carriers.

Twitter Brightkite Facebook Mobile
Free Yes Yes Yes
Phone Support Yes Partial Some
Mobile/iPhone Interface Partial Yes Partial
GPS Compatible* No No No
Existing SocNet Integration Partial Yes No
Location Data easy for Users to Use Yes No Yes No
Privacy/Security Controls Yes Yes Yes
Low Impact Monetization No No Yes
*GPS is carrier-sketchy. Verizon Wireless, for instance, disables in phones

As with all white papers, it is a call to action. A spotlight on gaps in the industry. One day, all of these items will be inherent in the social offerings but it could take 5-10 years to see that occur.