It’s estimated that 24,000 digital nerds had congregated to Austin for this event. Now, this number doesn’t include the people who don’t buy the pass but attends all the unofficial events. By many the festival has been dubbed “Geeks Spring Break.”
Every day a large number of panels, keynotes, book readings happening ranging from how to pitch to VCs; how will eCommerce change the fashion industry; social media during the Olympics or any other big event; to how to do business in Brazil (because it’s an emerging market). In addition, presentations from Rainn Wilson (Dwight from The Office), to a Q&A session with Al Gore and Sean Parker.
So much is happening during every given moment which makes it difficult to decide what to see or attend. Ultimately, people of attendance are hungry for the next big trend in social media and the digital space. Just to give you some background, SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) helped to give a popularity boost for companies like Foursquare, Facebook, and Twitter.
In recent years, the ‘next big thing’ hasn’t yet emerged for everyone to utilize. This can be alluded to the fact that the attendance for SXSWi gets substantially larger every year. Many companies, startups, brands, personalities, are trying to get the attendees’ undivided attention. Maybe the conference holds too much noise for a start-up to make its breakthrough?
This year, social discovery apps like Highlight and Glancee were most talked about at SXSWi. These iPhone apps aim to help transform how people meet by alerting users when they are physically near people who share a connection like a mutual friend, similar interests, etc. For example, I could be getting a latte at an Austin coffee shop, and the app will send me a notification that [insert fake name:] Sara Johnson lives in Vancouver, we share a mutual friend, went to UBC and likes The New York Times. Highlight and Glancee believe that it’s a good enough reason to connect with that person. Maybe so?
I’ll be honest, I never downloaded these apps, partially because it would drain the battery on my iPhone, plus I didn’t need the app’s assistance to meet new people. Tho, I did play with the app using my friend’s mobile device (hee hee). I’m sure it has helped connect many people together. That being said, I have a strong feeling that most SXSWi attendees probably deleted this app on their flight back home. Ahh, we’ll see how people continue to utilize these social discover apps.
If you are interested, here’s a video of Highlight Founder being interviewed by Shira Lazar at SXSW in the Samsung Blogger Lounge:
Regardless, the experience is spectacular, you have the opportunity to meet brilliant people and share and explore new ideas.