I’m a big fan of giving up my personal data…seriously. That being said, I expect a little something in return; I expect that who I give my data to will give me back recommendations or tell me things I may like or didn’t know about myself.

The easiest way to see this is in location-based services like Foursquare, and now the Beta Google Maps. I’ve been using check-in services for quite some time, so long that I had to add Kansas City locations to the Chicago area on Foursquare (I’m real old, I know). But it actually took quite a bit of time before Foursquare started saying; “Hey, you check-in at King Spa a lot, you might enjoy Spa Castle, it just opened up in Carrollton,” or “Jeez, You sure check-in to BuzzShift a lot, have you ever thought about eating nearby? If so, there’s NEO’s pizza, since that’s practically all you eat.” Now that’s not verbatim for what Foursquare tells me (I shortened it), but you get the point or at least I hope you do. I’m avoiding social interaction for the first few minutes of going anywhere so I can check-in to Foursquare, Yelp and G+ Local, all with the hopes that someday down the road, that one check-in will be the key to determining where I’ll eat my wedding night.

That being said, I know people are terrified of giving up such data, which I understand, slightly. With check-in apps, it’s completely an all in or all out situation; no one is forcing you to use them. But if you are consciously abstaining from check-in apps, I’d love to know why (tell me below), because I’ll scare you with this next tidbit: Your phone is playing the check-in game even if you don’t have Foursquare installed.

SHOCKING!!!! Nearly as shocking as the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones, unless you read the book, which in that case, hat tip to you. Now it’s not literally checking in to some top secret behind-closed-doors Apple version of Foursquare, but your phone is reporting it’s location back to Cupertino or Mountain View every so often, and all the time when you’re using Apple Maps or Google Maps. Don’t worry, there isn’t a Google or Apple employee for every single Android and iOS user that has the sole job of watching where you go constantly; they don’t know you buy a cake pop from the Starbucks at Mockingbird Station every Monday through Friday at 8:40~8:45AM. But by using those Map apps, you’re helping improve the accuracy of those maps, so it basically boils down to the fact that you’re working for free, maybe at a loss if you factor in your cellphone bill.

Enough of the paranoia, let’s get to the cool stuff, the part where it all made sense, yet again. So a few weeks ago, Google IO happened, at which the new version of Google Maps was unveiled, with some pretty cool features: relative map of the stars in relation to where earth is, real time weather maps on the globe, and a fancy new look. I, of course, signed up for the beta, and a few days later, I got in. After the new interface loaded, I noticed something curious; there weren’t a ton of businesses, landmarks, or random places I’ve never been or will ever go to. Instead, I saw train stations I frequent, Raising Canes, Hadleighs, Buzzshift (work), Mercantile Place (home), NEO’s Pizza, Tiff’s Treats, etc. I only saw places I’ve been to (and subsequently checked in at), and or searched repetitively.

So basically, the latest version of Google Maps is custom built for me, or I should say, I tailored it just for me. In comparison to a few coworkers who have beta access, but have never checked in on G+ Local before, they have a map with a few unique places based off some searches, but nothing anywhere close to my uniqueness. I find myself saying: “This is my map. There are many like it, but this one is mine.”

So you’re probably asking yourself:(or the computer, or Siri, or Google Now on your Android Phone, iPhone, or Chrome Browser on compatible PC and Mac devices, or your Chromebook) “How do I get an awesome map made just for me?” It’s pretty simple, check-in more often, open up the G+ Local app once in awhile, or check-in with a picture/emoticon on the G+ app. IT’S THAT EASY! When it comes to getting food or finding places to shop, make sure to use Foursquare and Yelp too, as Foursquare gives you recommendations on similar places you’ll probably love, and Yelp…well Yelp gives you a crown after going a few times. Crowns are still cool, it’s why you went to Burger King on your birthday…don’t lie.

In closing, after you go somewhere, don’t forget to review it, give a useful tip, take a helpful picture. Think of it this way; if you were planning a trip, and you had never been to this place before, what would be most beneficial to you so that you would go there? (Hint: It’s not a picture of your face, so quit cluttering my Foursquare locations with it).