The South by Southwest Interactive festival has consistently been a proving ground for launching new social networks (most famously, Twitter in 2007 and foursquare in 2009). Each year, pundits and conference-goers try to predict what the next breakout hit will be.
I’m not smart enough to figure that out, but I have noticed a common theme: These networks helped you figure out what parties and panels your friends were at. This is how Twitter was first used in March 2007 via the #SXSW hashtag, and foursquare gave us “trending locations” all around Austin in 2009.
So this year I’m keeping my eye on a couple of apps that center around group chat, proximity-based chat, and location-based heat mapping. Here they are!
This comes from (surprisingly) Ask.com and I’ve been playing with it here in Des Moines for a few days now. Essentially, it’s a proximity-based chat room that lets you adjust the mile radius around you – allowing you to chat with people within ten miles or less than a mile. Facebook integration is fast and seamless. Should be fun in packed venues down in Austin.
This app is similar to Ask Around (and officially launched on the exact same day), except that it’s taking a foursquare-esque approach to city rollout. Yobongo is starting with San Francisco, Austin, New York and Long Beach (for TED).
Beluga is a group messaging app that lets you share messages and media (photos, video, etc.) with groups of friends. Think of it as really powerful, fast and robust text messaging platform that completely bypasses SMS and mobile carriers. And, oh yeah, Beluga was just acquired by Facebook – which fits with the social networking giant’s plans for simplifying messaging across email, text and Facebook messages.
Here’s another proximity-based chat application, except that Localmind is positioned more around knowledge share and local expertise. It lets you ask questions of people checked-in to specific locations, ie. “What’s the wait like for tables?”
Domo wants you to be able to connect with strangers on Facebook at parties, events and on campus, focused around likes, interests, and hobbies. (All pulled and aggregated from your Facebook profile once you sync it up.)
I’ll definitely be experimenting with all of these at SXSW, and it will be interesting to watch which ones (if any) break away from the pack. Are there any new apps or social networks that you’re excited to try out at the festival?
And let’s not forget, the old school handshakes, hugs and hellos still work, too!
Photo credit: johanl on flickr.