A Tribute to Items

I’ve been a fan of Gowalla for a very long time. I’m sure many people know the application simply as a check-in service. To me though, Gowalla has always been about the items. Over the last 2 years, I’ve taken different routes home, gone out of my way on trips and arranged swap meets with fellow Gowalla users nerds to collect all the items. In it’s heyday last year, Gowalla was introducing a new item every week (New-item Tuesday!) and sometimes even did surprise, real-item giveaways like a new AT&T Smartphone or a pair of TOMS Shoes. At that point in Gowalla’s history, every user was an item collector, or at least paid attention to them for the chance of winning real items. Since then, Gowalla has made lots of incremental changes to their service to appeal to a wider audience. With each change, items became a less and less prominent element of the app. Today, in an blog post titled Going Forward, Josh Williams announced that less than ½% of their users made use of items and that they, “will be removing Items completely with the next release of Gowalla”.

While I certainly saw it coming, it’s still a sad day. Am I angry? Not really. I know that businesses have to do what businesses have to do – especially VC funded ones. Gowalla is still the best check-in application in my opinion and I’m curious to see where it’s going. With that said, I think dropping items is a horrible decision and I’m going to miss the fun of collecting them. I’ve archived my entire collection (or vault) below. Each of these 185 icons represents a moment in time. For almost every single one I can tell you a story about where I was, who I was with and what I was doing. That’s a pretty impressive feat for a little game you play on your phone.

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