After Google bought Dodgeball from him and shut it down, New York entrepreneur Dennis Crowley knocked off his own idea to create Foursquare, a new friend-finding app. The coverage likewise feels familiar.
Now that people are breaking up with each other through text messaging, it's only natural that the hottest social-networking program to emerge in recent months is Dodgeball, a free texting service that lets users tell their friends and crushes what bar they're in at any moment so they can meet up. Two recent NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program grads, Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert, both 28, launched Dodgeball last spring as an alternative to loud cell-phone calls from bars. When Dodgeball users "check in" at a given locale by sending out a text message, it goes to all their preselected friends, as well as any friends of friends within a ten-block radius. A photo is sent along with the alert-which helps with identifying near strangers. Introductions are made, beer is poured, and then hookups can occur-casually, and in a low-pressure environment, all under the guise of knowing someone in common. It's Friendster, except in real time and in the real world.
(The Friendster comparison proved eerily prescient.)
Foursquare is a better Dodgeball, for those who remember the now-defunct social-networking, texting, friend-locating mobile-phone app. The new iteration, rapidly being installed on iPhones across the city, is a fast route to a good night out. Download the app free at playfoursquare.com to track your friends' locations (meaning no more rounds of "Where are you?" texts). It's also a game, with goofy badges awarded to users who check in frequently. And most helpful, members share their ample nightlife experience; according to one enthusiast, the saffron Sazerac at Apotheke is the drink to get.