SXSW: GPS Geek Fest 5

Today is the first day of the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, TX. From all corners of the earth musicians, film makers and techies join forces for a week of round the clock events and celebrations.

This year, taking center stage on the tech side are GPS based social networks. If you are an active Twitter user, you have seen these updates in your feed. Perhaps a friend has announced they’ve become the mayor of Starbucks thanks to Foursquare. These social networks are becoming more popular and their hope is to become widely adopted by the end of this week.

Caroline Waxler wrote a piece today for Fortune magazine’s Brainstorm Tech blog in which she explains that two heavy hitters in the location-tagging social network space, Foursquare and Austin based hometown hero Gowalla, are viewing South by Southwest as the perfect venue to show their network’s superiority. On the head-to-head match up she writes:

“This is so closely watched at South by Southwest not because people feel like they’re witnessing magic but more for two reasons: One, everyone loves a good rivalry and two, South By Southwest attendees by definition love to geek out. (It’s affectionately known as “spring break for nerds.”) And, what better way to do that than to compete over who is the top visitor to the various venues associated with it? Foursquare is even giving out temporary tattoos to commemorate those achievements.”

Why all the fuss over this one conference? Jenna Wortham of the New York Times wrote on today’s Bits blog:

“For start-up hopefuls, capturing the fancy of the attendees is almost as important as checking out the panels and parties. The high concentration of tech savants supplies a rare opportunity for companies to woo the eyes and clicks of early adopters and influential Twitter users and bloggers capable of elevating their sites and services out of obscurity.”

SXSW runs today through Sunday March 21st and in that time frame Foursquare and Gowalla hope that the heavy hitters in tech will not only adopt their social networks into their daily lives, but spread the word to the masses. One location at a time.

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