Being “Social” at SXSW

[A follow-up post on my SXSW experience]

Being “social” is hard for me. Not in the sense of talking to people and meeting new people, but in my use of “social” media. Outside in-browser Google Chat, my social media usage has been lacking and very under the curve. Being at SXSW, I resolved myself to go crazy using “social” media, particularly Twitter and Foursquare, and fully submerge myself in that technology. From the few days immersed in that world, a few thoughts:


  1. Twitter – I had used it sparingly before. Mostly for the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference to tweet notes, interesting blurbs, and  share some behind the scenes from the organizing team. It was useful, and interesting for that purpose. But I never found a personal use for it. During my time here at SXSW I did find a few useful things. One – taking notes of the talks. As I tweeted interesting points from the talks, I would also re-tweet, and have dialogue with others who were also listening to the talks. Great way to collaborate ideas on the fly. Afterwards I can look at my Twitter stream and recap my notes. Two – complaining. Comedian, actress and writer Lily Tomlin once said “It’s my belief we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.” You can replace “language” with Twitter. It gives a easy access outlet to share, and/or complain when something isn’t going your way. This is dangerous. Three – I found it useful to search what’s going on. As it can be used for evil, it can also be used as a way to figure out, what’s hot, what’s going on, and what news is being shared. It can lead you to a spot where they have free food, or to a place that has an awesome talk going on.

  3. Foursquare – I had a difficult time figuring out how useful this was going to be over the past year. Previously to SXSW, I only had a few checkins, and a few badges. Over the past 5 days, I got much much more. My basic summary from heavy usage over the past few days — it’s nice when EVERYONE is using it – both friends and businesses. For businesses, all over town in Austin they were advertising Foursquare promotions. This was a great way to see where the nearest food truck was, or what restaurant in town was having a deal. But that means critical mass of businesses is needed to make sure you get utility out of the 2-sided platform. It becomes useful at a certain threshold, where before it, has very little value. For friends, it’s nice to see where they are and makes it easier to coordinate with them if need be. Using Foursquare I found 4 friends, who lived in other cities, that were at SXSW (and I didn’t know they were going to be there)…that’s pretty cool. BUT if ALL your friends aren’t using it, the utility falls off pretty quickly (my opinion).


Going forward, I can definitely see using Twitter more. Foursquare, it’s very much supposed to be a fun, interactive, world “game” layer type of thing. As businesses and my friends use it, there will be a certain threshold in which I will not be able to avoid it…until then, I can expect my usage continuing to be skeptical.



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