This year, social media, mobile, responsive design, HTML5, and data were popular topics during the five-day festival, but there were some bigger trends at the festival that were the talk of the town. This week we take a look at each of these three trends and their potential impact for the news industry.
1) Location-Based Services. Location was a big theme at the festival this year. On Monday, March 11, CEO and Co-Founder Dennis Crowley of Foursquare filled a packed exhibit hall to talk about “The Future of Location: From Social to Utility.” His talk focused on Foursquare’s growth during the past 4 years – they now have 30 billion check-in points and 30 million users around the globe. According to Crowley, countries such as Japan, Turkey, Indonesia, Russia and Brazil have experienced the biggest boom in users with the service recently. Crowley also talked about how Foursquare’s service is being used in a variety of contexts and how its API is being used by developers around the world including companies like Instagram and Quora.
Crowley reiterated the point throughout his talk that his company is more than just badges and check-ins but how they are creating a social framework where people are providing information of when and where people are moving around the planet, and how that information can be shared and built upon as people visit or pass those same places.
Crowley showed a video to the crowd of the check-ins and movement in New York City when Hurricane Sandy hit the area.
Location was not just just talked about during Crowley’s talk, but was featured in seven panels during the five-day festival showing its application in a variety of ways ranging from social uses to gaming. At the SXSW Interactive Tradeshow, there were several vendors on hand displaying their location-based services for attendees to check out.
Location-based services are becoming more pervasive as mobile technologies easily allow for the location of a user or place to be captured, received and disseminated in a variety of contexts – to get directions, to find a business, to mark a location, to get background information on a historical landmark, and the list goes on.
News organizations and journalists may find that location-based services can be used in a variety of ways. News organizations may be able to see how the power of location-based services can be tied to news stories (such as the case of CBC News Hamilton featured in a previous post on the INN website) or how journalists can use it as a newsgathering/reporting tool to reach sources at a particular location or new ways to communicate with editors back in the newsroom.
2) 3D Printing and the Builder/Maker/Creator Movement. At the festival this year, there was a lot of discussion on the creation of products. Many people were discussing the emphasis of this year’s festival was on “hardware” versus “software.”
Pettis stated in his opening remarks how society is moving in a new direction of building and creating, and specifically how people can be their own builders and makers with 3D printing technologies.
He showed the packed meeting room how his MakerBot works and how people around the world have been using it to create and make their own products and innovations.
During this talk, he also launched a new prototype called the MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner, a 3D printing device that can take any tangible item, scan it and print it in 3D.
Pettis’ innovation demonstrates that 3D printing is here. The ways and uses of how it can be applied to the news industry remains to be seen, but there is certainly a lot of potential to explore its use. This “Next Industrial Revolution” that Pettis states can bring the everyday consumer closer to product creation and transforming how the public interacts with manufacturers and vendors.
3) Power of Google Glass and Other Wearable Devices. This year, SXSW featured six panels on wearable devices and how they can be used in a variety of contexts to communicate and receive information.
In addition to these panels, one could not help but see many SXSW participants walking around with their wearable devices.
A big moment at the festival was a talk about Google Glass on Monday, March 11 led by Timothy Jordan, Senior Developer Advocate at Google for Project Glass. The fully-packed meeting room of attendees were given a live demonstration of Google Glass. Jordan announced during his talk the launch of the Mirror Glass API that will be launched sometime in the future, date is TBD.
Jordan showed the crowd how the API could be used along with the tips of how to use it effectively. He highlighted examples of how Google Glass can be used for note taking, photo capture, receiving emails, and receiving news alerts/headlines or information.
As part of Jordan’s talk, he showed how the New York Times is experimenting with Google Glass for displaying news headlines and stories. News organizations do have the potential to move into this arena, however the bigger point to this is the power of wearable devices and how much information they can hold, transmit and receive.
News organizations may find Google Glass and other wearable devices as a new platform to reach news consumers. Wearable devices may be helpful for reporters on location and how they can interact with editors in the newsroom when they are remote. Wearable device technologies like Google Glass demonstrate we have yet to reach the tip of the iceberg of what is possible and how much the news industry can play a big role in its development.
This wraps up the three key trends from the festival. The news industry has the potential jump in and explore these trends and possibly lead the way with new innovative approaches that can impact the newsroom’s operations and the public they serve. The sky is the limit!