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Checking in at SXSW and the location-based revolution

So I just got my first “swarm” badge for checking in on Foursquare, and I couldn’t be more excited.  For a while I rejected joining the Foursquare movement, but upon learning I’d be heading down to South by Southwest Interactive, I knew I’d have to jump on the Foursquare bandwagon (or Gowalla – I suppose they deserve a shoutout too).

Excited to see its potential in action

To begin this location-based adventure, I was lucky enough to travel down to Austin with some notable Toronto “agitators”, David Crow, Jay Goldman and Adam Schwabe – which was more than an adequate primer for the “check-in mania” that’s sure to ensue this week.  After two airport check-ins and several other random locales along the way, I’m quite excited to check in at every location I visit because the power of this emerging tool becomes incredibly apparent in a town packed full of tech geeks.  I mean, I just got (virtually) swarmed at the airport!

The idea of location-based mobile technology has fast taken the imagination of the tech world and it will be on full display at SXSWi this week.  But the most exciting thing is the potential for when smartphone penetration increases and games like this truly reach the mainstream.  Consider that an application like Foursquare:

  • resides on your phone and is with you everywhere
  • knows where you are
  • knows who you are
  • knows what you think about where you are
  • knows who your friends are
  • knows where your friends are
  • knows what your friends think about where they are AND where you are

Think of the amazing applications this has for social interaction between friends once adopted on a broader scale.  Think of the amazing power this presents to brands and advertisers.  It’s no wonder that Google and Facebook are also players in this location-based mobile world at such an early stage.  When coupled with other technologies from something as simple as a customer database to something more elaborate like bluetooth, and Foursquare and Gowalla and their immediate descendants are poised to revolutionize the media world once again.  And I can’t wait.

But in the meantime, I’ve gotta go hit Austin and earn some badges!