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March 12, 2010

SXSW: Location, location, location

Posted: 03:04 PM ET

Location, location, location! They say it’s the three most important factors to consider when buying a home. Now perhaps it’s also the case when it comes to taking your social-networking prowess to the next level.

Chances are you’re already seeing some of your social media pals fill up your streams with "check-ins" from Austin-Bergstrom Airport in Austin, Texas. Some 45,000 people are expected to visit Austin this weekend for the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, which includes a five-day tech conference.

@Beckland: Landed in Austin with a plane full of tech geeks (@ Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) w/ 79 others)

The massive pilgrimage to the Mecca of big ideas and innovations (Twitter in 2007, Foursquare in 2009) has already begun. Make way for the invasion of the laptop-toting, smartphone-packing, wireless network-armed hordes!

One of the pervasive themes for this year’s festival is location-based social networks (or ‘LBS’ for those in the know). “Checking in” hasn’t been this cool since… since… well it’s never really been cool to check in (especially when you were a teen driver and your Mother made you check in at every destination).

Services such as Foursquare, Gowalla and BrightKite allow users to “check in” at local establishments so that network friends know their whereabouts. You can use services on your mobile device to find places that have been recommended by your friends, or by strangers.

Take it from me, a self-admitted LBS-addict, it may sound creepy at first, but there are interesting benefits to these services:

I’ve used geolocation social networks to connect with friends in nearby locales. Recently a friend was eating in the same restaurant and came by to my table to say hello upon my “check in”. (Of course this could work against you if you don’t wish to be found)

Variety is the spice of life! I look to user tips and recommendations to help guide me to new menu items and restaurants all the time.

We’re still in a recession. More and more businesses are using customer-loyalty programs to offer discounts or freebies to LBS-savvy patrons.

Mayorships, badges, leaderboards and bragging rights are just plain fun.

Location-based networks like Foursquare and Gowalla are red-hot. BrightKite has been around even longer than those rising stars. Google Buzz allows for location-sharing. Twitter is currently unleashing its geolocating tools. Facebook is reportedly planning to roll out location features next month.

As the “geolocation wars” heat up and the mobile Web grows, the need to reveal to others our current whereabouts at all times seems to reverberate deeper across the social Internet with each GPS-enabled check-in.

The SXSW "land grab" is set. The battle for "Mayorships" of hundreds of Austin venues will be up for grabs this weekend – wish me luck with one or two!

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Filed under: Foursquare • SXSW Interactive

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John   March 13th, 2010 5:08 pm ET

WHY is Twitter in the news? It makes no sense..they have two million users!! This is a fraction of what most sites receive daily! Facebook has hundreds of millions of users..get Twitter off people who don't use it don't care about it which is most of us.

Justen   March 13th, 2010 10:36 pm ET

Austin "The massive pilgrimage to the Mecca of big ideas and innovations (Twitter in 2007, Foursquare in 2009) ".
That's your idea of a Mecca? Silicon Valley, San Jose, Mountain Vew, Palo Alto or San Francisco are innovation Meccas, not Austin.

I'd have to double check but I don't think Twitter nor Foursquare was founded or conceived in Austin as the article suggests.

GuessMan   March 14th, 2010 3:48 am ET

'Geolocation' is certainly carrying certain curiosity and entertainment value.
Otherwise it's a fad.

Foursquare takes lead in where-am-I apps | Web Mass News   March 14th, 2010 5:54 am ET

[...] SXSW: Location, location, location [...]

Peter   March 14th, 2010 12:54 pm ET

If most of the people you connected with were web geeks, you would definitely understand why this is called "The Mecca". I'm not there and it's still 50% of what I read about all day on Facebook & Twitter. It may not be a blip for regular tech, but for Web Tech it's Comicon, E3, or the Detroit Auto Show.

Nick   March 14th, 2010 6:37 pm ET

John –

Twitter has almost a 100M users, not 2M users. Where did you see 2M? Two years ago? (Btw, that amazing growth rate is why people are talking about them.)

John   March 15th, 2010 1:23 am ET

You obviously did not read the article a few weeks back stating that Twitters usership has flatlined since middle of 2009, while Facebook's has brown about 250M users in the same time period.

Dale   March 15th, 2010 4:52 am ET

The "Mecca of big ideas and innovations" reference was not about Austin itself, but about the SXSW conference being the event where major innovations and new techie stuff often have their big debut, as in the case of Twitter at the 2007 SXSW.

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