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So what is SXSW, anyway?

  • HLN's Mario Armstrong gives you the 411 on South by Southwest
  • He explains how the tech/film/music festival impacts you!
So what is SXSW, anyway?

New apps let you find a friend, anywhere

New apps let you find a friend, anywhere

Editor's note: Mario Armstrong is HLN's Digital Lifestyle Contributor. You can follow him on Twitter @MarioArmstrong.

Few events in the business world manage to combine tech, start-up launches, a world-class film festival, and one of the world's largest concert series -- but that's exactly what South by Southwest (written simply SXSW) promises.

An event that originally started in the late 1980's to host a local music festival in Austin, Texas, has today become a cornerstone of the music, film, and digital media industries. 
Running just over a week every March, SXSW has long been known as a launching point for the careers of independent musicians and filmmakers, but increasingly it has become the hotbed to launch hot digital products as well. Especially since the mobile app revolution.

In 2007, Twitter saw its growth triple in Austin thanks to a few cleverly placed 60" televisions in the conference center showing tweets as they hit the net. In 2009, a little company called Foursquare launched their unique, location-based "check in" app at SXSW to rave reviews. Last year, the hype was all about group messaging and services like
This year will be another banner year for sure -- especially since more companies are recognizing the power and influence of being at SXSW to launch their new features and products. I’ve already received invites from Pinterest, Instagram, Skype, Chevy, Sonos, FaceBook, Evernote, Nokia, something by American Express called Amex Sync, Storify, GroupME, Socialcam, Shazam, Songify and more. And the list goes on.

One of the companies I’m looking forward to learning a bit more about is an innovative start-up called, a service that makes it easy for non-techies to build a strong presence on the web. This company was featured in a special on CNN and it’ll be interesting to see how they use SXSW to launch their product.
So what are some of trends I’m looking out for? I think there will be several, like PR and marketing people looking for better measurement and marketing analytics services; developers will be talking about their apps; of course the new iPad; and there will be a lot of discussion about social technology for good like #CodeForAmerica.

What trend will impact you? I’m predicting we will see more apps that will help you discover your friends or people that are physically near you with similar interests. Apps like Sonar, and Glancee come to mind. These apps essentially alert you about friends that you didn’t know are nearby. It’ll be all about people discovery.

Here’s a scenario: You’re at an event or conference and you want to network with people but you’re shy and it’s awkward to break the ice. Just pull up the app, see who’s there, find out a little about their interests and wa-la you’re making new connections! In essence, SXSW is all about mixing techies, designers, programmers, educators, artists, musicians, marketers and biz development types in a bowl full of ideas and that in and of itself will be trending!
Stay tuned to the blog as will have so much coverage to bring you on all the SXSW that will impact you!

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