Why foursquare has an API

Naveen Selvadurai co-founder of foursquare. The text is taken from our publication “Build on others” work” about how you can create media and build services on data and content that already exist.

Ever since we launched foursquare two-and-a-half years ago, we”ve focused on our platform and our developer community.

We”ve long believed in the idea of an open API: one that will give users access to their own data, one that will give developers access to our crowd-sourced venue database (so that they don”t have to create one from scratch) and one that will enable other developers in building great experiences on top of foursquare.

Our own official applications run on top of our platform, so you know we”re incredibly vested in its future.

What you can do with the foursquare API

The API has allowed developers to create a wide range of applications to:

  • help people discover new places (by augmenting user”s history with
  • goings-on in a city);
  • create virtual games on top of the real world (for instance, a
  • zombie game that”s built on and reacts to real-world movement of
  • people);
  • develop visualizations that show how a city evolves and changes;
  • and so on.

The power of the developer community

Recently, we hosted our second official foursquare hackathon. A hackathon is an event that brings together developers so they can collaborate and work non-stop on an API project in order to win prizes and recognition. It took place over a weekend in mid-September. This one was a special event because it was so global in a way not many others are.

Four official cities (Tokyo, Paris, New York, San Francisco) and dozens of crowd-sourced cities took part in the event around the world. We saw some incredible work come out of the weekend:

  • Plan your next trip: to help you plan a step-by-step itinerary for a two-day weekend in a new city
  • Sqavenger: to help you create scavenger hunts in your city
  • Intersquares: to help you see all the places you and a friend might have overlapped

The value of an API

As foursquare grows and becomes more valuable as a product for users, my hope is that these applications too will grow in number and value. We”re just at the start of creating a real ecosystem of tools on top of the real world.