We’ve long since learned to ignore friends who feel it their civic duty to “check in” via Foursquare at a bar or restaurant the moment they cross the threshold, just as we avert our gaze from friends who duck outside for a cigarette. All very harmless, we reason about both, so long as they stay the heck away from us when they do it.
But an odd little product called Telescope Cards aims to move all those little tips about fine eating and shopping establishments to the real world with a personalized deck of paper Foursquare cards.
Say you’d like to visit Washington DC. Simply type in the city, add the places you’d like to visit while there, and order your cards. In a few days (and $25 later) you’ll receive a pack of 25 cards, each one containing one of the destinations you’ve chosen.
Mmm…kay? But why? “Take the cards on a trip, spread them out on the tray table on a flight and organize your itinerary,” the company suggests. Swell. But couldn’t I just check Foursquare on my phone?
Perhaps it would be a different matter if the cards looked any better than Foursquare, but you’re simply presented with the same blah looking map, with a few comments about your destination layered over it.
Strangely, Telescope Cards does an excellent job of hiding the one instance in which these cards might actually be useful – as a giveaway for businesses. (There’s just a small “For business” link in the upper right of its homepage.) Still, at $1 a card, it’s a stretch even for that. You could just as easily design your own cards with a map on the front for a fraction of the cost.
There is a germ of a good idea in here somewhere – moving useful smartphone information to a paper card medium would be very effective in encouraging users to focus on one piece of information at a time. Foursquare reviews just don’t seem to be the right fit for that.