We just got our boots on the ground here in Texas for the massive SXSW Interactive Festival — or "Southby," we should start saying, to look more authentic — and we couldn't be more excited. Yes, there are thunderstorms to contend with, but we also expect to see a ton of new startups, intriguing company announcements and brand new innovations that are sure to blow the roof off of the Austin Convention Center. Here are the top 5 things we've already caught wind of and look forward to bringing to you in an even more in-depth fashion.
Curating the Curated
SXSW prides itself on many things, but expanding the mainstream hivemind through a series of fascinating panels is one of its loftier aims. Expect the festival to host plenty of discussions by various high-profile characters in the media, on topics as broad-ranging as musings on why happiness is "the new currency" (by Dave Morin, CEO of Path) to answering, "Is aggregation theft?" (A talk by Gawker empire kingpin Nick Denton). But personally, we're most excited for the panel called "The Curators and the Curated," led by esteemed custodians of the web David Carr (of The New York Times) and Maria Popova (of the @brainpicker Twitter account), along with Max Linsky, Mia Quagliarello and Noah Brier. The panel is supposed to discuss the tensions that arise in the art of appropriating original content for curation, how it is different from aggregation and how important curators actually are to publishers. We deem it a must-see event.
Path 2.1 and Other App Updates
In case you hadn't heard, Path came out with a new version 2.1 just in time for SXSWi. The social networking app — best known for cultivating a more "intimate" network experience amidst vast memberships on Facebook and Google — just launched an API for developers to tap into the app and potentially create their own features. Interestingly, Nike was the first to take advantage of this update, partnering up with Path to let users automatically share their runs via a deep integration within the app. It's a neat new feature, and certainly not the last update we'll see at SXSWi. We're keeping our eyes peeled for other similar launches at the festival.
Samsung Blogger Lounge
Samsung has been publicizing their Blogger Lounge to the media, and we honestly can't wait to see what kinds of surprises they'll have in store for us. At least one gimmick at the event already sounds exciting by itself: Angry Birds Space is launching one afternoon during a private showcase, and tech journalists will get to be among the first to go hands-on with it using the new Samsung Galaxy Note. Time to knock down some wicked pigs!
Startup Spotlight and More New Apps
The Startup Spotlight, happening from 4 to 6 PM on Friday, March 9th at the Hilton Hotel, is a surefire way to meet the developers who are coming out with innovative new apps to accomplish everything from a novelty trick to potentially becoming the most powerful mobile marketplace on smartphones. We'll be on-site to report on the most compelling new apps here, and any others we discover along the rest of our stay at SXSWi.
Looking for THE Breakout App
And here's the most obvious thing to watch out for at SXSW 2012: the breakout app of the festival. There's definitely already been some buzz surrounding a few apps, including Highlight, an app that makes users' Facebook information accessible to others via a simple push. Other close contenders include Pixable, a photo-organizing app; Localmind, a location-based Q&A app; and Sonar, a location-based people discovery app. Stay tuned for the rest of our app coverage to see which of these startups comes out on top by the festival's end.