As we amass more and more data about ourselves, the big challenge will be creating tools that help us put it to use in productive, positive ways. A quantified self is not necessarily an improved one. In the meantime, though, some personalized eye-candy can’t hurt.
Foursquare launched its own visualization tool last week, letting users view their last 12 months of activity in a few different ways. In each, check-ins are represented by colorful little badges. You can sort them by date or by category, which line the badges up into orderly little rows. The latter will probably just confirm what you already know: you go out for coffee way too often.
A circular “connections” view is a little more insightful, showing all the different places you went throughout the year after checking in at a certain location. Here, you might get confirmation of things you already knew deep down but never really liked to acknowledge. You’ll be able to see, say, where you tend to check-in after sessions at the gym. Take-out food joints? Oh well, you’ve earned it, or something.
As the company wrote in a blog post accompanying the release, the tool is “just our small way of saying, ‘Thanks! We think you’re awesome.'” Also a small way of saying think how much cooler these would look if you used Foursquare more often.