Is Rural Business ready for Foursquare and Gowalla Location Based Applications?

I have been reading and hearing a lot about location based applications, namely Foursquare and Gowalla… I was even asked recently on Twitter which I felt was going to be the winner for their user base… Foursquare seems to aim most to locations within a City, where Gowalla aims at a larger market, the world with its “Passport” concept for its users… But then I asked myself- Are Rural Businesses ready for Location Based Applications?

Living in a small town and having been involved with helping small businesses in a town without a stoplight get online has had it’s challenges over the years, but also has shown some major benefits… I have created websites that have helped small business in this town without a stop light increase sales up to 800%, with adding a well designed website for their business… I also looked at the members of the local Chamber of Commerce’s in my county and in other areas and noticed that only 10-15% of the local businesses have a website … This is common with Rural American Businesses, they are slipping being the technology curve- they might not be ready for Location Based Applications with the benefits in sales and attracting clients from other areas as many don’t even have a website…

So many small towns and counties truly have very little web presents online in sharing their services or events for the rest of the world to know about… Yes there has been a change in the Digital Divide of more higher bandwidth going out to rural America and the price of computers have come down a lot, but the software prices and just how to use these technical devices for helping business is falling faster and faster behind the technical curve…

I have been a small town Tech person for some time now, over fifteen years, and understand small town views- “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality of small town business and views tends to let them think their local newspaper or tabloid advertisment is the only best way to get people to come through their doors… Problem with this form of advertising is often the subscription or printing numbers of these newspapers or tabloids, they don’t include how many of them are used to house train puppies or line the bottom of a birdcage and have never been read… But a website can, it can advertise their business to a world economy… Often small town businesses don’t seem to understand this and overlook the use of a website to help attract more clients…

So the possibility that the places you might travel to out in the countryside for your vacations or on your travels have new locations via Foursquare and Gowalla might be slim… For users or subscribers of these applications, this is a haven for being the “Location Founder” and please try to write a nice recommendation for these rural business locations… But for the businesses in Small Town America, this could be a future problem, as they often will not have a website or even a blog and are allowing possible clients to just drive by on local routes and highways of America without a clue of the possible services or goods these small town businesses could offer…

They are saying that Location Based Applications are the new POP (point of purchase) display for businesses that use it… That 6% of viewers will stop in to buy something they see their friends use or that the applications show they are close to… This is far larger then the old marketing advertising of about .02% of direct mail advertising or newspapers advertising says they generate…

Added that these services also allow a user to share their location through online social networks such as FaceBook and Twitter, it is some of the best “Advertising my mouth” marketing one could ask for- telling all of your friends with one line you like this service or venue… But how much tech is really being used in Rural America???

I have a nice FaceBook list and know it is highly used in my town… Past alumni of the high school search is great for finding past class mates and friends in town and a lot are using this… But I also use Twitter, when I do a search using Twitterlocal for local users, I get ZERO- I am the Twitter Elite of my town with there being no competition… So my Twittering of local places or events is only good for helping bring some of my friends or followers to my town events… This is common with small town America, it is quickly falling behind the technical curve, in local business venues not having a website or being online to represent their towns events…

I do believe these location based applications, services or games will be a major up and coming advertising venue for businesses of all kinds, but for now, it seems there is a lot of people and places that need to log-in or highlight places… For example; 34,000 places just in New York City to eat and neither Foursquare or Gowalla have that many locations there, even with Foursquare being located in NYC… When writing this, I looked up Chincoteague Island who receives 35-75,000 people during the Pony round up, but only showed one marked Gowalla location post in Chincoteague and that was in the cemetery… I do believe highly in these great innovations, and they are great plus within cities, but I have to truly wonder if rural businesses and towns ready for it…

I do believe this is a major untapped area for both of these location based applications, and defiantly an great possibility for Website Designers to also gain large clients numbers that might want to take advantage of such added benefit of location based advertising through the use of Foursquare and Gowalla… For now, it will be a challenge to help rural Business get online, and also add these services their area businesses, tourist attractions and events… But without a website, adding location based applications might be a challenge…
Charles Taggart, EzineArticles.com Basic Author

With the up and coming mobile devices becoming the norm with today’s users, with more and more people are using Smart Phones or iPhones to get information and using Location Based Applications such as Foursquare.com and Gowalla.com… But is Rural America ready for such great innovations? My answer is NO; they’re still falling behind the Technical curve faster and faster…

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An All American Traditional Dish- The Sundae…

I sit enjoying a national tradition on a Sunday, now this late evening, taking a deserved break after doing more reading and research for things to write in the future… I sit back enjoying a bowl of something cold, sweet tasting, that truly melts in my mouth, tantalizing taste of vanilla, chocolate and the sweet sensation of a cherry, all in one spoonful… Such a simple treat on a Sunday evening, spoon upon spoonful enjoying a Sundae…

Not too far from me just up the road some and around a few bends is the birthplace of the Sundae; Ithaca, New York who claims the oldest known serving and proof of this delightful dish… Back in the day, many drugstores often had a Soda Fountain that served soda & ice cream within them… One such place was Platt & Colt Pharmacy in downtown Ithaca…

It was 1892 and supposedly Reverend John M. Scott visited the soda fountain often after church at Platt & Colt Pharmacy, one day he received a mistake, they had spilled Cherry juice on his vanilla ice cream. He so enjoyed it they named it in memory of the day, a Sundae, served with vanilla, cherry juice and a cherry on top… Ithaca is able to claim it being the oldest known server of the Sundae by an advertisement from the Ithaca Daily Journal on April 5, 1892, where Owner Chester Platt of Platt & Colt Pharmacy paid for the advertisement…

Though Ithaca claims the fame of being the first to key name this delicious sweet ice cream dish, I find it ironic the city or county tourism doesn’t make more of the title, with offering a Massive Sunday competition or Sundae Festival in the Commons of Ithaca or at the Park, and have people dress in the time period and ride the bikes of that time period and enjoy that time of history more… For now, I will just practice my solute to this great innovation, and make sure I double dip and double solute my spoon high into the air on April 5th, to Chester Platt, for his great American traditional dish, the Sundae…
Charles Taggart, EzineArticles.com Basic Author

Why April 5th isn’t the National Day of Sundae’s I don’t know… But National Sundae Day is November 11, and it is also National Happiness Week… So I guess it is a good thing, as what better thing can make a person happy and put a smile upon your face as a mouth full of a tasty ice cream Sundae, with syrup and a Cherry on top…

If you would like to find out more and fine neat recipes for Sundaes visit www.icecreamsundae.com

Rural America Slipping Behind the Digital Divide…

Some Town America, the backbone of our country and the foundation of what we have grown into, it’s beauty and simple views and cares so nice to visit, to live in and be part of with knowing all and everyone within… But there is a problem, they are falling vastly behind the technology curve, which does and will continue to be problems with jobs, and tourism… Rural America is slipping behind on the Digital Divide with its lack of technology use, not the cost or the high bandwidth, but understanding and knowledge of its use…

It use to be that Rural America had the problem of high bandwidth use, and in some places it still does, or the cost of computers where a challenge that inhibited those from buying them… Now more and more small towns are receiving fast Internet connections now through Cable access, DSL or even Dish, which is a great thing… But so many web site designers seem to forget that a website should be designed to be light and fast loading… The cost of computers has dramatically dropped and computers now have more abilities then most users are able to fathom… But the cost of Software still is very high, for those who are a bit tight with finances with this economic hardship our country is going through…

But the small towns are also experiencing the challenge of trying to keep up with the ever-going technology always going forward… So few small towns and small business in small town America take advantage of what Technology can offer them… Often they are the ones without a website, no news or highlights of what is happening in these beautiful small towns, and many small business users are challenged with the learning curve of using the software or keeping the computer OS up to date with security… And as far as tourism, they are also falling vastly behind with GEO or Location Based Technology and applications that is the norm of the larger cities… This technology is a great boost of commerce in businesses in cities, but Rural America it seems to be empty upon those maps… The traveling populous and tourism economics this could help boost is amazing

When you look to navteq.com the company that is setting the foundation of mapping out the world for use with mobile devices and services, they do include Small Town, but the local small businesses of these small towns don’t know of these services that companies such as loopt.com, gowalla.com and foursquare.com can offer… This could be beneficial for the local people some, but far more helpful with bringing those from the city into the beauty of the local small towns of Rural America with more torsion…

As one travels along the many Highways or Routes of our country, we drive by so many small towns or towns just a few miles off an exit that might have some services, restaurant or event that a person in the city might so enjoy… It is these devices that could help to bring those from the city to enjoy some of the simple pleasures and beauty of our countryside’s and thee small towns within them…

According to navteq.com, an” Average of 6% of navigation device users visit a business because of seeing an advertisement on their device” and “72% of consumers find location-based advertisements on navigation devices acceptable”… This is such better and higher percents of getting the largest amount of advertising to your clients to come to these locations with it. Far better rating then the advertising in small tabloids that might end up just being paper on the floor to train puppies or at the bottom of bird cages…

GEO or Location Based Technology and applications can enable any business or event in a small town to communicate with customers online or driving by with their mobile devices and get more possible clients to stop in or inform them of specials, events and places to see…

But so few small town businesses and governments have a good understanding and use of today’s new technology and are slipping behind on possible economic increases for their communities…

This is where I truly feel Internet Café’s with a small cluster of computers and someone to help these local small businesses get online with websites, adding e-commerce to their business and GEO or Location Based Technology to help bring in more possible clients and torsion to Rural America…


As Featured On EzineArticles

The Digital Divide has Changed…

The term “Digital Divide” I have used often in the past while I was involved with my town Chamber of Commerce and helping start the town’s Business Development committee… But since this term, Digital Divide started being used in the 90’s, high band web services are being offered more in rural America and computer prices have come down… Now the term means more of how people use computers and their technical understanding of it, or what I call the “Technical Challenged”…

So many adults and those with small business in rural America still are not using computers in their businesses, most often because of not understanding how to use the software or the technical challenge of understanding how to keep the computer safe…

This is where I believe my idea for an “Internet Café with a Micro Business Incubator within it can really help small business start and grow in small town America…

A few years ago (2000), when I started talking about this idea, combining an Internet Café with small business classes and business service, some of my friends said it wouldn’t be a viable idea as there are so many “Cyber Café’s”… I looked at one of my friends who said this and I said, “Hmmm to get to one locally, we have to drive 20+ miles, we don’t even have one in all of our county of nine town’s and that is also assuming you understand how to use a computer”… Many of my friends in this town with no stoplight, still don’t know how to turn on a computer, they are business owners or work for small businesses to large universities and in the 30’s-40’s + age groups- the “Technically Challenged”…

In my county, there was a cyber café, but I don’t believe it is open any more, the business got robed and the owners didn’t bother to re-invest in the two computers they offered for renting- the owners having moved away… So a county of over 54,000 people, there is no Internet café in it… And as I have traveled around New York State and down the east coast and spoke with many people online, this is very common in rural America; many small towns don’t have an Internet Café or places with Wi-Fi…

I stopped and spoke with people in small towns in my county, on my travels and online, I also got to find many truly don’t have much knowledge of the internet or the possible benefits of websites…

My town of just over 5000 people, the Chamber of Commerce had at one time 90 businesses, but only about 15 of them had websites and even fewer of them have heard of location-based applications… The capital of the county, with it having a history of having IBM and Lockheed Martin in it, also have no Wi-Fi locations, and very pour presents online… Many not understanding the difference in Good old-fashioned HTML Web standards… The county Government site even uses mostly PDF files for the notes from meeting, in a county that still have the majority population connects via dial up phones… PDF are still not very searchable and to download notes from a county site that are PDF- Print Document format, that take 20 minutes via a dial up phone connection just doesn’t keep the public truly informed… But many of these people are truly Tech Challenged- many not even knowing how to add a document to an e-mail, or even understanding how to set up a Pay Pal account to be able to order things online or sell things via e-Bay…

I don’t plan any longer to do this as a business here in this county, as I do plan on prepping my family farm to sell it and start the Business idea in Chincoteague, VA… I’ve done the research of the area, the business, the tourism and spoke to many people in that area, and it is just a perfect location for my Internet Café with a micro Business Incubator to help local business get their business online and help them with the new technology available for their business… I have also enlarged my Business plan to include additional cafes, so I might be able to locate a Grant or Angel Investor to help with creating jobs, small businesses to get online and business starts ups- to help reduce the Digital Divide of Rural America…

Bit of my own and SU History- The SU Orangeman Logo

The Syracuse University Orangeman logo’s first printing was through the company I was an Art Director for, College Games Company- Quadopoly printed in 87. Part of the marketing campaign for the game was creating window stickers and T-shirts, so the logo would be known when we brought the game out for major sales in local stores and the Alumni Magazine… We sold thousands of T-shirts and tens of thousands of window stickers with the SU Orangeman, to give the logo of the game visual recognition… My marketing helped bring the game and the logo into major popularity of Otto as the cartoon became known as…

The Orangeman didn’t become an official mascot of SU till 95, the news of the game and who drew it was major news back then- but it was drawn by someone working in the bookstore during her lunch hour- Colleges/University’s own all intellectual rights of employees, and in 91 their lawyers came and wanted “Copyright” use money for their “Ownership of the logo” we had worked so hard to use for the game and our items we sold- T-shirts, window stickers and such… They went to take also my artwork of the Orangeman in all forms for the different colleges and sports, but they didn’t “Own my artwork or ideas” so left them (there was also Ms. Otto for Woman’s Sports teams and Sororities)… But it is nice to know I was a major part in the bringing forth a national icon in college sports…

If you look at the Logo on the game and look to it’s major use of it today, you’ll notice it is backwards… SU took our Window Sticker and photocopied it on the “Clear side”, which was the reverse- and if you ever notice, all of the printing after shows him facing the opposite direction and often never having the same fonts on his hat showing the SU…

Ironic- I being the Art Director of the company that brings the SU Orangeman into being and being Dyslexic, help to create a logo and national college mascot that ends up being used backwards…

Internet Café with a Micro Business Incubator- Needed Tech for Rural America!!!

I live in a town with no stoplight, and yes, the cows out populate the people still… I chose to come back to my hometown after Syracuse University in 1993 thinking I might be able to make a difference and help the local community with Technology, business design and then with Web site design services for local business… I even for a few years had the only website hosting and e-mail service physically in my county…

When I first got here, I found many local small businesses had their wives type up their brochures while at work, using clipart… Then I noticed that many still don’t have a clue what technology can do to help their business- some of the local business that did hire me to design websites did notice large improvements in the sales- some experience as much as 800% sales growth- not bad for a town with no stoplight!!! But I still feel there is a huge need for Technology to grow in Rural America!!!

I stop down to the local gas station and ask people their simple things- “Do you have a FaceBook or twitter account? Often many say no or even worse, have no clue what I am talking about… I then ask them if they have websites, or do business online, even just so simple as have you ordered anything on eBay, and half might say they do look online, or have tried e-bay, but often many are daunted by this new technology…

I feel Rural America is falling behind in the Digital Divide; it isn’t just not having high-speed bandwidth or price of computers, but in the ability learning how to use these devices, applications and technology… I started to realize Rural America truly needs a place to learn and find out how to implement technology into their businesses…

I make it a point to try to keep up as much as I can, reading and learning online, and no matter how much time I spend, there is always more new things to learn and new devices or services out there to try… I currently don’t have an iPhone, but do plan to get one once I am back on my feet health wise and get my Web business rolling strong again, I also plan on buying an iPad…

As I do more reading and research about these mobile devices, their applications and online services to support them I find online for them, I came across http://gowalla.com. WOW what an amazing application and service that Rural America could use!!! This new tech service is about location sharing and location services… It allows the location to set up a tracking system of users who state there are there. Here is a YouTube video of Kevin Rose highlighting this service:

If the tech is too challenging for Rural America, why not provide a location to both offer a comfortable place to learn, network and enjoy some good Java, while helping the other local businesses get on track with catching up with the lucky people in the City who don’t think twice about all of the restaurants or shops having websites, being on twitter and so forth… The need for Rural America to have an Internet café that includes a micro Business incubator for them to learn how to incorporate technology would be a great service and also help in creating jobs, both in the café and with new start up businesses…

I think to the Town I am planning on opening such a café, Chincoteague VA. A town that has a small population but has a very large flow of tourists that come to the town and the area… The town has a great fire department and local restaurants, and attractions, but still very much lack up to date tech, with regards to updated websites, and defiantly no one is using such technology as gowalla.com, very few even have twitter accounts or websites that sell products… The boon it could create with better web presents, increase in jobs, small business and business start-ups and tourism… But not only for this town, but I believe this could be so beneficial for any small town in any part of Rural America…

Lost in dreams once upon a time shared…

Sometimes when even dreams wash the sadness of realities loneliness away, fill your cup with memories so soft and sweet… Only the fear to wake, to open one’s eyes, to again find yourself alone, the silence empty, and the colors gone-
only a tear remains, falling down your cheek, missing the warmth, and care of a memory now gone… Closing your eyes again, wishing to feel the speed of your heart beating again, the reflections shared within warm eyes full of care, lost in dreams once upon a time shared…

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