The Buzzwords of South by Southwest

I wanted to write something about the overall gestalt, er, vibe, of this year's South by Southwest, or "South-by," as it is called here. But writing out a long list of companies and describing what they do is a long exercise that might not get the point across anyway.

So I figure maybe a better way to do it is to give you a sense of the concepts that keep coming up in the panels, on the show floor, in the blogger lounges and in the hallways. Since the really important, meaningful and appealing tech ideas usually find their way into the nice tight package of a buzzword, I decided to take that approach. So here are the buzzwords of SXSW.


You probably know this one. When using location-based services (LBS) such as and Foursquare on your cell phone, you "check-in" to the places you go. I checked in myself and a couple of friends from the lounge in the Driskill Hotel here in Austin, for instance. Some location-based services allow you wrap other content around your check-in: my friends and I could comment on what happened at the Driskill last night, or we could post pictures from the place.


Gamification is a way of getting people to complete a mundane task. Location-based services became famous for using games and prizes to get people to "check-in" to locations using their app. When you check in to a place using , for example, your Gowalla passport is stamped and you pick up place-based trinkets (i.e. a margarita at a Mexican restaurant, a tour bus at a concert venue, etc.).