Next generation of online networking

March 10, 2010 9:35:27 PM PST
Staying connected online is now a way of life for millions of people and the next generation of networking is upon us.

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Whether he's watching TV or walking to his favorite lunch spot, Brent Pelleschi's network of friends will never have to ask the question, "Where's Brent?'

"I'm a professional musician so I figured over time it will be a good way for my friends to figure out where I'm at, where I'm playing," Pelleschi said.

Brent just started using a site called foursquare; it's like twitter, but with actual physical locations. So if you stop at your favorite Starbucks for coffee in the morning, you send your network of friends a message.

We checked in with the creator of foursquare via Skype to get a better understanding of this so-called geo-location based networking site.

"When you check in at a restaurant on a Saturday night, random friends will text you and give you recommendations on what to eat, or they might stop in and say hi or if you're stuck in an airport, you'll find some friends that are stuck in a terminal 100 yards away and it's really good about bringing people together," Dennis Crowley of said.

But let's face it, micro-blogging can get a bit monotonous. After all, not all of your friends need to know every time you order a triple skinny vanilla latte, right?

But you might be eager to let your friends know your caffeine routine if there's some incentive. That's why businesses have partnered up with sites and actually give out free stuff based on how often you frequent their establishments.

In addition to offering incentives for this type of micro-blogging, sites like foursquare, Gowalla Loopt and Google Buzz have also added a gaming aspect.

For instance, if you visit a particular pizza place in Center City more than anyone in the online community, you accrue enough points to become the mayor of that place. That may give you access to all kinds of free meals, drinks, or VIP treatment.