Sarah Lai Stirland, author at Cult of Mac

Foursquare Brings “Social Voting” To The iPhone


Hip To Be Square, Foursquare That Is: US Voters With iPhones Can Share Their Experiences With Friends
Hip to be Square, Foursquare that is: US Voters with iPhones can share their experiences with friends

During the final stretch of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, a number of different media organizations set up different kinds of maps to track real-time activities at the polls., for example, set up a voting machine problem map where voters could use a ZeeMap we had set up to tell us what went wrong in their experience.

Fast-forward to 2010. Foursquare, the mobile social geolocation service, has teamed up with Google, Pew, a couple of get-out-the-vote groups and a couple of Washington DC-based technology and design firms to update that idea.

The coalition recently launched its “I Voted” project, which enables iPhone Foursquare users to broadcast the fact that they voted to their friends, and to report what it was like, and whether there were problems like long lines or voter intimidation.

The idea is to harness the attributes of peer pressure and political campaigns’ competitive spirit to spur more people to actually vote. Another side benefit of this project is that it could potentially uncover trending problems at polling places.

On election day itself, all the data emanating from this activity on Foursquare will stream to an online map to give people a big-picture portrait.

The project so far is an experiment. It started off as an idea being batted around between some young political technology consultants on Twitter this June.

Mindy Finn, a co-founder of EngageDC, one of the participants that set up this project, sees the application’s use this election day as a dry run for the 2012 presidential election. Political campaigns could possibly use it to ignite socially-inspired viral voting campaigns.

“We’re certainly not at critical mass right now,” Finn said. “But the potential for this type of social voting, and the use of geolocation services to encourage civic engagement, the potential is just huge.”

iPhone Pot Applications Proliferate, Even Without California’s Prop 19


Growing Like Weeds: Apps like
Growing Like Weeds: Apps like "iweededucation" are proliferating in Apple's iTunes store

It’s unclear whether voters will approve California’s ballot measure to legalize and tax the growing and use of medical marijuana next week, but in light of the growing industry that’s sprouted up around the medical marijuana business, it seems immaterial.

One of the elements of that industry is the proliferation of pot-related iPhone and iPad apps.

NYC Subway Riders Captured With SketchBook for iPhone



New York City is full of characters — that’s one of the biggest attractions of living there.

Freelance radio producer and artist/animator Eric Molinsky spends his commuting time on the city’s subway system capturing the visual aspects of those characters using Autodesk’s SketchBook Mobile application, as the New York Times notes in a blog post profiling Molinsky on Friday.

The results are available for all to see on Molinsky’s iPhone Sketchbook Drawing blog.

From the beaky-nosed, middle-aged woman in a blue hat to other characters whose faces are artfully-shaded, each of these portraits manages to capture the spirit or mood of a person, a bit like a Richard Avedon portrait. In my mind, the pictures look as if they should be in an edition of the New Yorker magazine illustrating some story, or in the Times‘ “Metropolitan Diary” section illustrating some anecdote.

There’s something utterly romantic and wonderful about bringing the timeless art of sketching to a device like the iPhone — in my experience, it’s actually cool functionality like this that seems to have  converted a lot of my older technophobe friends  into iPhone and iPAD devotees.

As you’ll see from the comments on the Times blog post, it turns out that Molinsky’s hobby isn’t that unusual: a lot of other people have been using apps like Brushes to do sketches too.

Above: A subway rider on the 3 train August 9, 2010, sketch by Eric Molinsky.

Democrats Take the Pain Out of Canvassing With iPhone App



If you’ve ever participated in any kind of canvassing for a political party or for pet causes, you know what an excruciating experience it can be on every level.

From having to put on a cheesy smile as you approach busy strangers in the street to having to put all the information together back in the office, it’s just one of the most tedious tasks around, apart from, say, taking out the garbage.

The Democratic National Committee and Organizing for America have gone a long way to address all of that with their thoughtfully-designed iPhone/iPAD/iPOD Touch canvassing and organizing application, which was launched earlier this month. It’s one of the best tools I’ve seen.

Tea Party Electoral Rage: There’s an App For That



As New York Times reporter Kate Zernike notes in her new book “Boiling Mad,” a good portion of the Tea Party movement is composed of youthful, tech-savvy hipsters — so it really shouldn’t be surprising that the movement has its own iPhone/iPad app.

The app features top news of interest to members of the movement, polemics from 11 conservative bloggers, Tea Party videos, and wouldn’t be complete with a feature called “Outrage of the Day.”

This post contains affiliate links. Cult of Mac may earn a commission when you use our links to buy items.