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SXSW: Let Your Geek Flag Fly

SXSW: Let Your Geek Flag Fly

This week marks the start of one of the biggest conferences and festivals to cross the emerging technologist’s calendar: SxSW (pronounced South by Southwest). You may have no clue about this geekfest, but it will affect the way you do business in the future, so you may want to pay attention to this 25,000+ person gathering in Austin, Texas.

It may sound like a place to let your Geek flag fly, but in reality, this is where the worlds of film, music and interactive emerging technology come together in a way no other conference has really mastered. There are over 1,000 conference sessions – 600 alone during the interactive section, which opens on Friday, March 11, 2011.

I’ll be updating you via MediaBullseye from SxSW, and it should be some week. Already, LBS – or Location Based Services – companies have been visibly posturing for position. The leaders, Foursquare and Gowalla, have both released new mobile versions of their software that offers the ability to share where you are with your friends.  Newer companies like Where and SCVNGR join them along with Facebook and Google in wanting you to share where you are and when.

Why will people tell others where they are? It sounds counter-intuitive.

The truth is that location-aware mobile applications may be the best way to get real-time deals and rewards from the places you want to shop or eat. At the extreme end, it may be the best way for local merchants to do battle with chains – many of which are also playing the LBS game. It could even (dare I say it,) replace the Sunday newspaper coupons. (For those of you who don’t remember, a newspaper is … well, at last year’s SxSW, the New York Times was at SxSW – trying to sell newspaper subscriptions. Honestly.)

The technology is new and marketing experts are still trying to figure out the way to use it. Meanwhile Business to Business (B2B) companies are trying to use LBS as well as the business to consumer (B2C) companies as a way to measurably grow business at a low cost.

Somewhere at the event, there will be little-known companies doing amazing things, and I’ll try and find some of those stories to share with you as well. (A few years ago, there was this little company called Twitter, and we know where that story went).

As with any mega-conference, there are numerous parties and for newbies to the event, it may seem a bit like spring break for the techno-savvy. In fact, the people who attend “South-by” (as the cool kids call it), do share amazing ideas, collaborate and discuss what you will be using at home, school, and in business for years to come. It is a place to get funding, an ad agency, and in short: If you’re in social or emerging tech, film or music, Austin is where you want to be this week.

Either way, it’s time to let our Geek flag fly!

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