Location Based Services (LBS) and the importance of driving ideas into entrepreneurial success was opening tone set at SxSW interactive, the premiere emerging media conference that opened in Austin, Texas on Friday (March 11, 2011).
CEO of O’Reilly Media, Tim O’Reilly , interviewed in the keynote by Jason Calacanis said, “It’s the entrepreneur who’s chasing the idea [and not the money]… who are just having fun… [because] they just think it’s cool [to try their idea].”
Every company is a brand. Great brands have a great core – they mean something, according to O’Reilly. “We do our best work when we organize ourselves around great ideas.” “The train” that makes the idea work needs to be inclusive and a lot of people have to want to get on that train, O’Reilly added.
Or simply, love what you do, get a great idea that can reach critical mass and run with it. The idea resonated well with the packed session, which reached well over 10,000 people as it was simulcast to several ballrooms around the Austin Convention Center and the city.
“Ronald Reagan was the father of [geolocation based application] Foursquare,” raised a few eyebrows, but it emphasized the role that government policy can play in innovation. Citing Reagan’s decision to allow the military GPS system, then under development, to deliver data to the public (reaffirmed during the Clinton administration) resulted in not only GPS for our cars, better aid during natural disasters, but the location based services that are growing in popularity today.
Google vice-president of Search and User Experience, Marissa Mayer followed and demonstrated the new developments in Google’s location based offerings. Hotpot, quietly launched in November, is a location-based rating service that allows users to leave tips and ratings for others. Seamlessly integrating with other Google products, including the map enhancements make for a useful offering.
The show stopper was a test done with Google engineers as they had a family day on the ski slopes. Each volunteer had a streaming GPS unit, with position of every move recorded in realtime. When that minute-by-minute data was placed viewed against a Google Earth satellite view of the area, it was clear what the popular spots were, including the popular lunch spot. The possibilities are endless, and that is exactly where the SxSW attendees are coming from: What is possible for business and how can I do it – and who can help.
The value of the conference comes less from the amazing panels and more from the outstanding people who attend the conference. Or as O’Reilly said, “WE have to make the future fun … It’s the grandiosity that’s fabulous.” And it starts here.