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SXSW: Finding Like Minds, Via an App

by Alan Melson 9 Mar 2012 4:32 PM

In 2007 at Austin’s South by Southwest Interactive confab, the breakout piece of technology was going to be something called Twitter. Two years later, it was Foursquare. As this year’s confab starts and while some of the KERA/Art & Seek crew is getting registered in Austin, we look at what’s buzzing.


@vlucio (via Twitter)

The KERA/Art and Seek crew has hit the road – some of us, anyway – and headed to Austin for the next week or so, just in time for the annual South by Southwest confab. First up is SXSW Interactive, kicking off this afternoon with panels, roundtable sessions and a ridiculous registration backup (right) likely due to the rush into the Austin Convention Center after rain and hail began pelting central Austin during the late-morning hours.

Every year, pundits make their picks for the piece of technology that will be the breakout of that year’s conference. In 2007, it was Twitter, and two years later, it was Foursquare that got much of the buzz – and both have proved their staying power among mobile users in the ensuing years.

This year, Mashable took a look at which new product might be this year’s hit, and one of their picks could have cultural impact: Highlight allows mobile users to detect who around them has similar interests, by using GPS and Facebook connectivity to find like matches. At a music festival like 35 Denton, users could easily find people near them who love certain bands or singers; at an visual arts symposium, artists could more easily be able to identify others in attendance who dabble in their chosen medium. Another app called Sonar that is being talked about at this year’s SXSW works in a similar fashion.

Is the concept invasive? Maybe. Will this auto-generated connector supplant traditional ways people come together over shared interests? Probably not. However, the apps that explore this concept have been generating interest online, and you may soon hear more about them from connected friends.

Check Art&Seek throughout the coming week for plenty of SXSW coverage, including film dispatches from Stephen Becker and much more.