Trend spotting at SXSWi

SXSW Interactive, a yearly geekfest in Austin, TX, is where I spent most of last week. I picked up on a lot of trendy new ideas, apps, and goings on in the tech world. Some of them may be of interest.


Everyone was using Gowalla and talking about Gowalla, comparing Gowalla with Foursquare, and even dreaming about Gowalla. There’s a constant stream of Twitter chatter about it. As you see in this tweet from @Goodwitch, you can set up Gowalla to tweet your whereabouts when you check in at a particular location.

Let me explain Gowalla, so you’ll have some idea if you want to give it a try. It’s a mobile phone app that does several things. It’s a social networking app that connects you with friends. It uses geo location to check you in to places where you go. Once you’re checked into to a place, a game-like part of the app kicks in. If you’re the first person to check in somewhere, you become the “founder” of that location and you get some video game style prizes. If others have been there before you, you can see who they were and when they were there. If a friend of yours is there when you are, you can see that. You can collect or redeem some of your prizes in whatever location you are in. You can download it for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and palm at Gowalla.

AOL Seed

There was a huge AOL display at SXSW, touting their new network called Seed. For writers, photographers and bloggers, Seed is of interest because it pays you for writing and photos. You can make from $15 to $100 on stories of various lengths that get accespted by Seed. But, be aware that you’re giving up all rights to the material for that money. Go to the site and see what current assignments they are seeking contributors for. If you’re interested, you can’t miss all the Get Started and Sign Up buttons.

QR Codes

Every badge at SXSW held a QR Code with contact information or URLs for the badgeholder. These codes can be read with a mobile phone that contains an appropriate app for capturing the information and adding it to your contacts. I saw very few cards change hands, but I saw a lot of people pointing their phone camera at someone else’s QR code.

You can get the apps here:

  • iPhone: I-Nigma
  • Windows Mobile: Bee Tagg
  • BlackBerry: I-Nigma or BeeTagg or Open the BlackBerry Messenger 5 application -> click on invite -> Scan the code
  • Android: Google Zxing Reader
  • Nokia: I-Nigma

A handout in the schwag bag was from Stickybits. It contained a packet of stick-ons with QR Codes that you activate at the website and then use to identify your phone, computer or attach to something like a business card or photo. The QR code can contain whatever information you want. For example, the code block on a business card might contain the URL to your resumé.

Not long ago, Facebook started playing with QR Codes in Facebook profiles, according to TechCrunch. Are you ready to wear your Facebook profile on your tee shirt as a QR Code?

Fast Company found a cupcake company that is making QR Code Cupcakes. First you download it, then you down it. Tasty.