Curiosity Rover on cusp of long reign as Foursquare Mayor of Mars

NASA's robot explorer one check-in closer to unimaginable social power on Red Planet

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Ten years from now we may look back at this as the catalyst for a new Space Race.

Curiosity Rover, the robotic science vehicle launched by NASA's Mars Science Laboratory to explore the Red Planet, "checked in" at Gale Crater via social networking site Foursquare earlier Thursday, declaring, "One check-in closer to being Mayor of Mars!"

Under Foursquare "rules," members get to call themselves "mayor" of a particular location if they've had the most check-ins within the past 60 days. However, a minimum of two check-ins is required to be awarded that totally ridiculous coveted mayoral title. (The MSL team opened a Foursquare account for Curiosity earlier in the day; otherwise, it already would be well into its reign since its landing on Aug. 5.)

All that being said, I challenge Curiosity's claim. I'd argue the rover really is one check-in closer to being Mayor of Gale Crater, not all of Mars. I mean, does someone who obsessively checks into any random Starbucks in New York get to call themselves "Mayor of Earth"? I don't think so.

Plus it sets a bad precedent. If Foursquare allows this, what's to stop the next robot in space from declaring itself "Mayor of the Universe"? It's a slippery slope, is what I'm saying.

Perhaps it's a good thing Foursquare wasn't around during the heyday of the Apollo program. Imagine if Neil Armstrong's first words when he stepped on the lunar surface were, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for the freakin' next Mayor of the Moon!"

Chris Nerney writes ITworld's From the Lab blog. Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisNerney. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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