Explore Chicagoland with Whrrl and Chicago Architecture Info
As social networking becomes less a curiosity, and more of an everyday activity for a lot of people, we’ve been exploring ways to make this web site more “social.”
You already know about our Facebook page, our Twitter feed, and Flickr photo pool. Now we’ve come up with a way to make exploring Chicago and its architecture more interesting, fun, and indeed… social.
Over dozens of e-mails, a series of meetings, and a pastrami sandwich, we’ve formed a partnership with the good people at Pelago to bring Whrrl to Chicago Architecture Info. You can see the results at http://whrrl.chicagoarchitecture.info
What is Whrrl? Well, put simply it’s like Foursquare + Facebook + Yelp + a whole lot more.
- It’s a geolocation check-in app like Foursquare that lets you earn badges, prizes, and discounts for “checking in” at certain places.
- It’s a social network like Facebook that lets you see where your friends are and what they’re doing.
- It’s a review service like Yelp that lets you recommend places and activities to friends and strangers who are also on Whrrl.
It’s also a great way to learn about new restaurants, businesses, and activities near where you live and work that you didn’t know about before.
Personally, I treat it like a game. I like to earn points for making recommendations that people like, and then each week there’s a tally of my earned points against my other Whrrl friends. But I’ve been told that I’m only scratching the service.
Here’s where it gets all Chicago-specific…
We can create “societies,” which are groups of places with similar themes. For example, you might check in at The Art of Pizza and end up earning points in the “Mama Mia!” society. The more you check in at similar places (pizza joints in this case), the more points you earn and you, to use video game parlance, level up. You can share you recommendations for The Art of Pizza (like “The Brooklyn style pizza is as close to the real thing as you can get this far north.”) and when other people indicate that they want to try your recommendation, you get more points. When they actually complete something you’ve suggested, you get even more.
Some societies are national (“Starbucks,” “Night Owl,” etc…), but some are local. In our case, very local.
I’ve created a couple of societies so far — the Chicago Architecture Top 10 Society, and the Uniquely Chicago Society. I have lots of ideas for other Chicago area societies that I will create in the next few weeks. I’d also like to hear your ideas for other societies that we could create. Maybe one for the great Mod buildings in the city. Or one for interesting abandoned buildings. Or one for independent coffee shops. It’s really up to your imagination.
What does this web site get out of it? No money, unless you count that pastrami sammitch the Whrrl people bought me a couple of weeks ago. No, this is about exposure. Whrrl already has what looks like a few million users (I haven’t actually asked for a number). Those that are in Chicago will come across our societies and find out about Chicago Architecture Info.
What do you get out of it? A chance to explore your city through the eyes of other people. A way to learn insider tips about places you’ve already been. And for a lot of people, social location apps are simply a lot of fun. I read someplace recently that there are over 150 million people using social location services. I’m willing to bet there are a lot of them in Chicago.
Here’s the big question — Do you need an iPhone? The answer is an emphatic NO.
- If you have an iDevice, that’s great — download the app from the iTunes App Store.
- If you have an Android device, don’t worry — I’ve been assured that an Android version is coming soon.
- If you have a BlackBerry or some other kind of mobile device, then simply use the mobile web version at http://m.whrrl.com
- If you just don’t have a mobile internet device, you can still use Whrrl. Just do it from your web browser at http://whrrl.com
Reply to this thread with whatever questions and suggestions you have.
Here’s a web page I’ve created that explains things and lists the current CAI-sponsored societies: http://whrrl.chicagoarchitecture.info. As a point of interest, I’ve also created Whrrl societies for CAI’s sister sites. They can be viewed at http://whrrl.towrs.com and http://whrrl.houstonarchitecture.com
Here’s a recent Pelago press release that explains better than I did what Whrrl is:
Whrrl 3 Launches With a Promise: ‘We’ll Save You From Farmville’
Whrrl Brings People Together with Real Ideas of Real Things to do in the Real World
- Check In, Share Experiences, Invite Others to Join You — Users check in to the places they go with total control over the privacy level, from completely private to public and with the ability to share to Facebook and Twitter. As always, users can add photos and notes to their check-ins to share out their experiences. Now, users can invite others to join them where they’re checked in. Photos and notes from people checked in together are pooled for easy sharing.
- Societies — Every place has its own Society, and there are now over 60 multi-place Societies nationwide that users join by checking in (in some cases during certain times of day and days of week), such as Foodies, Jimmy Hendrix, Indie Music, Night Owls and Pinball Wizards, among many others.
- Recommendations (with Photos!) — Create recommendations to capture and share all those ideas you have for specific things to do at places. Target your recs to just friends or to any of your Societies. Photos can be added to any recommendation. Why just say it when you can show it?
- Influence Points — Every time you check in, you earn points. Create recommendations, get more points. But here’s the kicker: when you inspire others with your check-ins, recommendations and stories, you get even more points. People can “want to,” “did it” and “re-recommend” each other’s recommendations. As you earn points, you level up in your Societies.
- Ideas — Recommendations, whether created by others in your Societies, friends or Whrrl’s algorithms, come together in one new Ideas tab that shows the most relevant nearby things to do.
- Merchant Offers — Hundreds of merchants (and counting!) have created offers exclusive to Whrrl users. Users redeem the offers simply by showing the Whrrl 3 redeem screen on their phone. Offers can be made for members of Societies and even to members at specific levels of Societies. A coffeehouse owner might offer a free latte’ for a new member of its Society, 10% off all purchases for Insider-level members, 20% off for VIPs and 30% off for Trendsetters, their most loyal customers.
- Special Privileges — As users level up in Societies, they will unlock new Whrrl capabilities, like the ability to curate a Society or even create their own Societies. There are many such privileges waiting to be discovered, and more in the works.
- Fun Facts — With every check-in, Whrrl gives you a little tidbit of interesting information about the place, the area or your or your friends’ relationship with place.
- New User Interface — A fresh new look and app organization make Whrrl 3 the most fun-to-use and powerful Whrrl to date.