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OPLIN 4Cast #221: SXSW buzz

Posted in 4cast

South by Southwest Interactive (“SXSW” if you want to be cool) is happening this week in Austin, Texas. “Interactive” is one of three simultaneous conferences based around music and media, film, and emerging technology that have become increasingly popular over the last 25 years and expect to attract around 20,000 attendees this year. Recently, SXSW Interactive has become a great place for small, emerging technology companies to try to create some buzz around their products. For example, a new company called Twitter spent $11,000 to promote their product at SXSW 2007, and the rest is history. Even if a company is not present at SXSW, the time period around SXSW has become popular for announcing new products and new features of old products, so in the past week there has been a flurry of tech news that might be of interest to libraries.

  • Recommendations and discovering good reads (Goodreads blog/Otis Chandler)  “We built Goodreads so that you could find new books based on what your friends are reading, and now we want to take the next step to make that process even more fruitful. To tackle this highly complex challenge, Goodreads has acquired a company by the name of With their deep algorithmic book recommendation technology, we’re going to be able plumb our database of 100 million book ratings from 4.6 million users to find general patterns of the kinds of books people read and to generate high-quality personalized recommendations.”
  • Now we can read alone, together: Instapaper adds social features (ReadWriteWeb/Marshall Kirkpatrick)  “It was already a great way to read good articles without internet connectivity. Now it includes: an in-line browser that will make grabbing things to read offline really easy, qued social sharing so you can post links to share great articles automatically when you come back online, social discovery of articles your Twitter and Facebook friends have Liked on Instapaper and much more. It’s a big update to a great app.”
  • Start-ups are in a rush to bring the chat room to the smartphone (New York Times/Jenna Wortham)  “Apps from a wave of new start-ups allow multiple people to participate in the same conversation on a mobile phone, like a group chat room or conference call held by way of text message. The new applications, most of which are free, include GroupMe, FastSociety, Beluga, Kik, TextPlus, PingChat, HurricaneParty and Yobongo. Several of these services have made their debuts just this week, right before the opening on Friday of South by Southwest…”
  • 1UP: The importance of platforms, and how we’re extending ours (foursquare blog)  “One huge part of the Venues Project, which we’ve now made some headway on, is building a comprehensive Venue Harmonization Map. Right now, there’s no Rosetta Stone for location, allowing you to link information about a real-world place from one database to any other. For instance, if you look up a restaurant in the foursquare API, we give you our ID number for that location. But if you were to look up the same restaurant in The New York Times or MenuPages, they’d have a different ID number in their database. The Venue Harmonization Map aims to solve that, by translating those numbers so that you only have to look up the ID once.”

Event fact:
SXSW buzz is not just for emerging companies. Apple erected a temporary pop-up store at an undisclosed location in Austin this week to launch the iPad2.