SXSW and the Future of Social Media

South By Southwest (SXSW) has a history of being the launching point for new social media applications, according to Daniel Terdiman.  Back in 2007, before Twitter really took off, the buzz it generated at SXSW helped bring Twitter to the forefront of social media.  In 2009, location based service, Foursquare, launched at SXSW and garnered a lot of attention.  Since then, the interactive portion of the SXSW festival has been seen as the jumping off point for new social media applications, as well as the proving grounds for existing social media applications.  This should not come as a surprise, SXSW is also a major launching point for rising musicians. Each year, Austin TX is overrun by tech savvy twenty-somethings, and the buzz generated during the festival can make or break the career of musicians and app developers alike.  So the big question is: What does SXSW 2011 hold in store of the future of social media?

Once again in the forefront of the social media discussion are location-based services.  Right now, these services are experiencing considerable birth pangs, according to David Berkowitz.  Services like Foursquare and Gowalla are trying to expand beyond the niche market that a purely location-based application attracts to a wider audience.   During these tentative times, location based services are trying to move passed mere novelty to something useful for a large number of people.  As a result, this year’s SXSW has seen the introduction of coupon elements to location-based applications.  Perhaps these special offers will breath life in to location based services or maybe they will fade into the background, as strictly coupon based services overshadow the hype location-based apps originally garnered.

This years SXSW also highlighted an interesting flaw in the social media design behind Twitter: what happens when too many people use it.


As seen in the above video the sheer number of people using Twitter during SXSW may be its only weakness.  In the future, Twitter will need to figure out a way to make it easier for users to access only the most useful information so that they aren’t overwhelmed by the mass flow of information.

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