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facebook chris coxFacebook concluded the unveiling of its new Places location check-in feature today with a speech from vice president of product Chris Cox (pictured here at another event) that was either inspiring or cheesy, depending on how charitable you were. Either way, it hinted at the bigger vision that company executives have for the product.

Cox wasn’t afraid to get a little highbrow — he cited sociologist Ray Oldenburg’s concept of “the third place,” namely communal locations that aren’t your home or work, such as a bar or restaurant. With Facebook Places, these locations “come alive with the human stories that we’ve told,” a fact that he described as “dope.”

The vision sounds more ambitious than what I’ve seen people do with services like Foursquare, which is really about sharing where you are with friends right now. Cox painted Places as a way to attach full stories to locations in a way that will last, maybe even for years. This reinforced one of the promotional videos that Facebook showed at the beginning of the event, where sharing stories was a big theme.

That kind of sharing has always been a big goal of Facebook’s, Cox said. “Now … those stories are going to be pinned to a physical location,” he said.

For example, Cox described a future version of Places where a user might walk to Ocean Beach in San Francisco 10 years from now. Their phone would buzz and, thanks to a story tagged to the location years ago, they’d get an alert that this was where their parents had their first kiss.

[image via Flickr/Brian Solis]

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