How many mayors are there in Hackney? I don’t mean incumbent Hackney mayor Jules Pipe or self-proclaimed mayors of their own domains. I refer to a service called Foursquare, a relatively new app that’s gaining significant ground, pretty much becoming the bona fide kingmaker of venues through EC2 to E8.
Suppose a date stands you up and you find yourself stranded in a Vietnamese restaurant near Hoxton. Some would say the most natural thing to do at that point would be to check into Song Que, for instance, and declare your whereabouts to the world. That’s basically the meaning of Foursquare – letting others know where you are and vice versa.
You get points for every check in; points help you climb the Foursquare leader board ladder. After checking into a venue you get to see who else is there even if they aren’t Foursquare friends with you. And you can leave ‘tips’ describing a venue (i.e. praising it or slagging it off).
The current mayor of Shoreditch House is Tom A. Paul’s got 1,341 check-ins thus far and 31 badges. Badges are medals awarded to users for outstanding performances, such as checking-in where 50 or more people have already done so. That’s called the Swarm Badge. Checking in after 3am on a week night is considered an event worthy of the School Night Badge.
In order actually to become mayor of a notable venue one must oust its incumbent. To achieve this it is necessary to check in every day until you surpass the number of times the current mayor visited the place.
I am currently fighting in a so-called mayoral war in Café Oto with a fellow called Timothy S who robbed me of the Dalston Superstore mayoralty recently when he moved into the area. I barely managed to make a comeback at Café Oto despite visiting it eight times last week.
The app has affected many people, such as Emily Karpel, a singer-songwriter who is mixing her album at The Premises Studios in Hackney Road. Emily’s husband’s great uncle was David Wray, who in the fifties held the post of Mayor of Shoreditch.
“No one can ever take his place. Someone called Tristan M took charge of Shoreditch Town Hall on Foursquare,” says Emily, referring to the fact the Town Hall has a new Foursquare mayor, a first since Shoreditch’s local authority was merged into Hackney in the 1960s. “As far as I’m concerned the so-called new mayor is pretty much an imposition on history.”
Nimrod Kämer is the current mayor of Tina, We Salute You, Efes Snooker Hall and London Allergy Clinic.