February 2013 // 2013-53

No Hope for My Gowalla Data

I should be sleeping right now, but (thanks to ongoing insomnia) instead I'm taking a moment to stew over the loss of my old Gowalla data.

After Gowalla's acquisition by Facebook, they briefly promised that user data would be available to download in the near future. The site essentially shut down last spring, and I had largely stopped using it during the fall of 2011. It was pretty clear early on that user data would not actually be available to download. Today, the site itself no longer exists.

While I wasn't actively using Gowalla at the time, I had previously been using it as my primary check-in platform and was sending my places to Foursquare via Gowalla. As the team began changing the Gowalla product and taking it further away from a check-in platform, the connection between the two services broke. Many of my Gowalla check-ins never made it over to Foursquare, including quite a few from my trip to Prague in the summer of 2011.

At some point following Gowalla's demise, I realized that an archive of my check-ins was still available in Memolane. I had connected all of my services and feeds, and the information lived on in my timeline. There was no way to export the data out, and I'm not actually sure if all of my Gowalla check-ins were captured.

However, some were captured, and I meant to spend some time going through each - day by day - to compare against the Foursquare check-ins for the same day.

It seems I waited too long.

I just randomly stumbled on a blog post in my feed from the team at Memolane. The blog is dated February 21, 2013. It states that the company is joining another, and the site will be shutting down. Today. On February 22, 2013, user accounts will be deleted.

There's no account export or data dump because theoretically all of the info came from feeds on other sites. They suggest using Timehop as an alternative, which I do, but Timehop really only seems to capture the past two years of my updates, where many more existed in Memolane.

I didn't care much for some of the interface and product changes they had made recently, and it's not a service I log into a lot. I did like the timeline capability though. I turn to Memolane whenever I'm looking for a tweet or event from long ago but with a general idea when it was posted.

I just killed my alarm, pulled out my computer, and started going through my timeline looking for the Gowalla data. But it's gone.

It's been a few months since I checked on the Gowalla information, and my hunch is that discontinued services were removed from my account during the interlude.

I started using the various geo services in the spring of 2010. I bought my first iPhone in December '09, and I went to SXSW in March '10. I didn't really start using any check-in apps until that trip. While one developer from work at the time tried to convince me to use Loopt to check-in around the town I lived in, I'm pretty sure there were only 3 of us in a 50 mile radius using the service. I didn't want to be the one lonely person checking-in to all of the gas stations in town.

When I moved to Portland in April '10, I started using some combination of Gowalla and Foursquare much more. Being in a bigger city felt like an extra layer of protection. Now I could be a geo-local needle in a haystack rather than an obelisk in a field.

Just as I stopped using Gowalla, I've been growing more frustrated with Foursquare on a regular basis. However, at this point in time I feel slightly more confident that I won't lose my Foursquare check-in data. If nothing else, it's pulled into erinjorichey.com/pull.

And so, good-bye Gowalla data and farewell Memolane.

Author: Erin Jo Richey
URL: http://erinjorichey.com/thumos/articles/no-hope-for-my-data

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