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August 05 2010

Top 16 Unusual Foursquare Badges

Since Foursquare’s launch in March 2009, there has been a lot of excitement about where the company is going. But we’d like to take a moment to reflect upon where it’s been, via one of its most entertaining features — badges.

Badges are, for many users, one of the main benefits of the app, driving competition among friends, co-workers, and even enemies. Whether the badges provide a real-life benefit or just bragging rights, users go crazy to figure out how to unlock the latest ones.

We talked to Foursquare’s Lead Designer, Mari Sheibley, about the stories behind some of the most unusual badges in their collection. It’s only fitting to showcase 16 of the most unusual badges here today since Foursquare launched with exactly 16 badges back in the day. Without further ado, please enjoy this collection of interesting badges, ranging from rare and retired, to quirky and puzzling.

1. Mr. Bill

This badge was created by interaction designer Eris Stassi in celebration of her beau’s birthday. David Bill, the lucky birthday boy, and CTO at CoTweet, said that his friends nicknamed him Mr. Bill as a joke, with reference to the Mr. Bill character on Saturday Night Live from the ’70s and ’80s.

To unlock this badge, you had to attend Bill’s birthday party at Dave’s on July 2, 2009. As Stassi put it, “The best gifts are happy experiences. And what would bring a smile to his face more than realizing his checkin earned him a badge specifically celebrating his birthday and general awesomeness?” Hat tip to Stassi for giving one of the best, and geekiest gifts of all time.

Sheibley explained the specificity behind the badge: “In very special cases we’ve created one-off badges for friends who have been big supporters of Foursquare. This was the first of these ’special friend badges.’ ”

2. PK JG 2010

Another instance of a “special friend badge” was the PK JG 2010 badge, which celebrated the marriage of Paul Kermizian and Janelle Gunther on June 26, 2010, at The Montauk Club in Brooklyn, New York. Those who unlocked the badge now receive free drinks for life at Barcade, a bar arcade in Brooklyn which Kermizian co-owns.

3. The Graduate

This badge was designed to be unlocked at the 2010 Stanford Graduate School of Business graduation ceremony, which took place on June 12, 2010. Why? Tristan Walker, VP of business development at Foursquare, would be receiving his MBA. With Tristan’s Foursquare bot suited in a mortarboard cap and decked out in Stanford colors, this badge would have been an amazing surprise for attendees checking into the ceremony. Unfortunately, the badge wasn’t activated in time. It’s the thought that counts.

4. The Prom King

The Prom King badge is yet another secret badge created for a Foursquare teamster. Sheibley gave us the details: “Co-Founder Naveen [Selvadurai] threw a giant prom-themed party for his birthday this past February in the auditorium of a children’s school in downtown Manhattan. We wanted to make a badge for him (it was a secret) as a present. Anyone who would check in to the location that night would unlock it. Unfortunately, it didn’t get put into the code in time, and it’s never been unlocked.” We’re sure Naveen would have won Prom King either way.

5. Banksy Fan

To celebrate the opening weekend of street artist Banksy’s first film “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” Foursquare created a special badge featuring a rat in star glasses, reminiscent of Banksy’s artwork. Sheibley commented, “We very strongly try to have the special badges uphold the Foursquare aesthetic (simple, iconic, rounded corners, etc). Our style and Banksy’s are very different, so we definitely had to work towards a happy medium that reflected both our ideals and Banksy’s art.”

6. Last Degree

During April of this year, 15-year-old Parker Liautaud and 44 year-old David Newman raced to be the first to check-in at the North Pole via Foursquare. Only one prevailed. Liautaud checked-in first and became the only person to unlock the Last Degree badge on Foursquare. Don’t put your skis on just yet; this badge was a once in a lifetime offer, never to be unlocked again.

7. Groupie

To unlock this badge, you have to be a true Foursquare groupie. You have to collect six different business cards from Foursquare employees (which all have different badges on the backs), and then go to foursquare.com/bizcard, where you can select the correct badges to unlock the Groupie badge.

Sheibley explained, “We made it for SXSW [2010] and carried it over for everyone to unlock after the conference was over… We wanted our business cards to be a game to go along with the game aspect of our product. During SXSW, it encouraged people to come up and say hello and talk with us, which is always fun.”

8. Early Adopter

Foursquare offered a slew of badges at SXSW 2010, one of which was the Early Adopter badge. As you may know, Foursquare launched two days prior to SXSW 2009, and was the breakout mobile app at the conference.

The Early Adopter badge was a nice surprise for Foursquare users who had previously checked in at SXSW 2009 events and were also attending SXSW 2010. Sheibley explained, “We wanted a clever way to thank all the early adopters from SXSW 2009 — the people who tried out our product from the very start.”

9. Karaoke RV

Not all badges are planned at Foursquare. This one, among a few others, was a spur-of-the-moment creation, based on user behaviors. Sheibley elaborated, “Karaoke RV is special, because it was made on the fly during SXSW 2009 to reflect activities that were going on that we didn’t know about when we first made the SXSW badges. We didn’t anticipate everyone driving around in a bus singing karaoke, but it was a hit, and so we created a badge for it.”

10. Internet Week 2010

Sheibley noted that “The Internet Week 2010 badge was unique, because it allowed you to skip party lines, which is not something we’ve ever done before.” Internet Week geeks unlocking the badge had the opportunity to skip lines to parties hosted by The Onion, #140conf, Pop Everything, Obliterati and SoundCtrl. Now that’s a badge with benefits.

11. World Cup 2010

This is another example of a badge made on the fly. During the 2010 World Cup, Sheibley designed the badge based on what users were saying and doing. Namely, users were mimicking the vuvuzela sound by shouting “zzzzzzzzzz,” and announcing goals by exclaiming “GOOOOOOOOOOOAL!” She commented, “Who had heard of a vuvuzela before this? It took a while for some users to realize one way to unlock it was by shouting 10 Zs.”

12. Gossip Girl

The Gossip Girl badge was originally called “Socialite,” but was later changed to “Gossip Girl in NYC.” “It’s unique because it’s actually really hard for people to figure out how to unlock it. It’s not tag-based (which people often believe), and not necessarily related to the [TV] show. People assume they can get it by going to places in the show, which isn’t necessarily true,” Sheibley explained, and pointed me to a blog post showcasing just how obsessed people can get about unlocking this badge.

Sheibley noted that “the Gossip Girl badge will soon be taken over by [the Gossip Girl account], so it will soon make more sense for everyone!”

13. Met Lover

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is just one of many brands on Foursquare, but not all brands have their own badge. Foursquare users who check in twice at the Met earn the Met Lover badge, which bears the iconic logo of the Museum. This badge is perhaps most unique, though, because it is reminiscent of the colored pins that visitors receive at the door to wear as entrance tickets as they walk about the museum.

14. Tarantino

Among the long list of Foursquare badges offered at SXSW 2010 was the Tarantino badge. This badge had Foursquare groupies in a fit trying to figure out how to unlock it. Many badge lists, which chronicle all of the latest badges along with how to unlock them, presumed that the badge could be tapped by attending Quentin Tarantino film screenings at SXSW. And other attendees assumed that the badge could be unlocked by attending a panel that Tarantino was scheduled to speak on (but never showed up to).

“This badge didn’t really have anything to do with Tarantino,” Sheibley explained. “It was previously called ‘Redford,’ but we had to change it since Robert Redford is affiliated with Sundance, not the SXSW film fest. It was definitely unlocked, although not as much as the other SXSW 2010 badges.”

15. Andy Cohen

Bravo TV has a huge Foursquare presence, with a large offering of badges, one of which is the Andy Cohen badge.

“Other than the badges we’ve made for co-workers, this is the only badge that features a recognizable face,” Sheibley pointed out. “Bravo felt strongly that they wanted to use Andy’s face on the badge to drive home [his] brand recognition. In general, I try to push away from this, because it doesn’t marry well to our desired aesthetic of simplicity. My goal is always to communicate a concept with the least amount of details.”

Luckily, they found a happy middle ground, incorporating a simple outline of Cohen’s animated face.

16. Jobs

This badge is actually the second iteration of the Jobs badge. The original Jobs badge, unlocked after three checkins at Apple Stores, depicted the Apple logo.

Regardless, Apple fans love this badge. Famous Apple fangirl Justine Ezarik, better known as iJustine, tweeted her excitement when she unlocked the badge. You can see the original badge design in her TwitPic.

Sheibley’s clarified the reason behind the design change: “We just wanted to make sure there were no trademark infringement issues, so we changed it to something more generic. People picked up on the change pretty quickly!”

These are our top picks for the most unusual Foursquare badges around. Which would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below! And if you have unlocked some of these zany badges, feel free to take full advantage of your bragging rights, too!

More Foursquare resources on Mashable

- How Non-Profits Can Maximize a Foursquare Account
- Beyond the Checkin: Where Location-Based Social Networks Should Go Next
- 7 Ways Journalists Can Use Foursquare
- Why the Fashion Industry Loves Foursquare
- 5 Cool Non-Profit Uses of Location-Based Tech

More About: Andy Cohen, apple, badge, badges, Banksy Fan, bravo, early adopter, foursquare, geo-location, geolocation, Gossip Girl, Groupie, Internet Week, Internet Week 2010, jobs, karaoke, Karaoke RV, Last Degree, location, location based social networks, location networking, location-based, location-based networking, Met Lover, Mr. Bill, PK JG 2010, social media, Tarantino, The Graduate, The Prom King, Unlock, world cup, world cup 2010

For more Mobile coverage:

June 08 2010

8 Ways to Follow Internet Week New York Online

Internet Week New York, the annual festival celebrating New York City’s web industry and community, kicked off yesterday and will continue through June 14. The week-long festival will feature more than 150 events, including panels, demos and conferences happening all over the city. Mashable’s own Media Summit event is going on right now (watch the livestream here).

Want to keep tabs on all the events this week? Check out the following ways to follow the conference online:

1. Livestream

Many of the events happening during the week will be broadcast live on the web on the conference website which means even if you aren’t in NYC you can still follow what’s going on in the city this week. You can also grab the official widget and embed live and previously recorded events on your own site or blog.

2. Twitter

internet week twitter image

You can find out the latest news from Internet Week by following the official hashtag: #iwny. Twitter users are already buzzing about the various events and discussing the hot spots around the city. You can also follow the official Internet Week Twitter feed at @internetweek.

3. PepsiCo Zeitgeist

If you like something a little more visual, you can track the latest tweets, Flickr photos, and Foursquare checkins in one place using PepsiCo Zeitgeist. The cool interactive visualization is a great way to see what’s popular at the festival and what people are talking about. It also includes a Google Map that displays the latest Foursquare activity and an animated bubble chart that displays the most popular keywords used by festival goers on Twitter.

Disclosure: Pepsi has been a sponsor of Mashable.

4. Flickr

Internet Week attendees are snapping photos all over New York City and many of those photos can be found on Flickr. You can find the latest photos from the festival by searching for photos tagged Internet Week 2010 or IWNY or by following the specific Flickr users such as Laughing Squid and Kelly Samardak who are already uploading photos from events in NYC to the site.

5. Official Calendar

internet week calendar image

The Internet Week New York website includes a schedule of events and an interactive calendar you can connect to your Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn profiles to track the various events. You can also use the calendar to connect with your friends and colleagues to find out which events they are attending.

6. iPhone

internet week iphone app image

The Internet Week iPhone app includes a calendar, live Twitter updates, and the latest headlines. You can also use the app to check into Foursquare or upload photos to be included in the festival’s official Mosaic Wall.

7. Pegshot

Pegshot, the mobile application that allows users to share photos of videos directly from their smartphone, has already been buzzing during Internet Week, with users uploading content from around the city. You can also follow your fellow Internet Week attendees and be notified when they upload new photos or video.

8. Mashable’s Internet Week Channel

You find all the latest updates from Internet Week, including coverage of the events and demos, right here on Mashable. Click here to visit the Mashable Internet Week page, which will include updates and content from events throughout Internet Week.

For more social media coverage, follow Mashable Social Media on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook

More social media resources from Mashable:

- 5 Things the Library of Congress is Archiving Online
- 5 Ways Government Works Better With Social Media
- How the U.S. Engages the World with Social Media
- How Social Media Can Effect Real Social and Governmental Change
- 6 Ways Law Enforcement Uses Social Media to Fight Crime

Tags: calendar, flickr, Internet Week, internet week ny, iphone, iwny, Live Stream, pegshot, Pepsi, twitter

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