Citiport: Live at Demo… But Not Ready for Prime Time

I am by all accounts a world traveler. I have been nearly 30 countries in my life, countless cities, and thanks to the Navy could probably be claimed as a resident to some of the worst countries on the planet.

I am a huge fan of social media. I love social networks and I think bloggers , if they work properly, can really give traditional media a run for their money in the field of content.

When I heard about Citiport being previewed at Demo I jumped at the chance to start fiddling around with the application. I mean think about it, residents of a city telling me the best places to go, amazing! My dad always said, “if your afraid of getting a rotten apple from the barrel… get it from the tree.”

I have to say at this point I am a little more than just disappointed in the application. Let’s start at the beginning. To get a decent review of the application I started looking a few cities I had visited while I was in Spain, Italy and France.

First problem: I do not speak Spanish, Italian (my grandparents hate me for this) or French. I know what you are saying, “how can you be a world traveler and not speak these languages?” Well if I tried to learn the language of every country I have ever been to I would still be in school.

The problem with total user generated content is that the users typically compose it in their native language. Citiport offers no way for me to translate what these people are saying. For all I know they are telling me to stay away from some lake because a huge monster lives in it and eats tourist.

Second problem: There is no uniformity in the information being provided. Some pages have pictures, some have long winded descriptions, and some don’t even tell me why I would want to visit. At first I thought the minimalistic approach was so the page would look good on my mobile. Well they don’t.

Third problem: Are locals really the experts on their city? Probably not. Think of any New Yorkers you know. I will take my family. If you put four of them in a room, ask a simple question, “best place for a slice of pie,” you will get four different answers and a fight will most likely break out.

I like Citiport’s model, it has some real promise but the system is going to need some heavy moderating to assure it doesn’t fall into a name calling contest and that marketers don’t become to influential. Citiport is also set to jump into some really fun areas.

Imagine if Citiport begins opening up their application to third party developers. I could see a real use for Citiport if they started doing things like GeoTagging, allowing for twitter updates, and the host of other tools that social networking allows for.

I am interested to see what Citiport will do in the future. I think with a little nurturing the Citiport web page could be come an amazing tool.