The Hot Apps At SXSW: Highlight And Lanyrd

    Every year, new categories of social interaction emerge at SXSW. This year, Highlight and Lanyrd seem to be two that got a lot of buzz and use.

    Both are about discovering people who are close by — people you might want to meet.

    Highlight is billed as “a fun and simple way to learn about the people around you.” Available in the Apple App Store, Highlight uses Facebook login information to surface the names and photos of nearby people and then helps you remember them. It also presents what you have in common with them. One important note: it runs in the background using GPS, which its developers say “can significantly affect battery life.” Some early adopters had to make an early trip to charging stations at SXSW. Highlight says it’s working on the issue and new updates will bring improvements.

    Lanyrd focuses on finding out more information about who is attending what events based on your Twitter ID. Called a “social conference directory,” it sets up a simple way to navigate events like SXSW and tells you who is planning to attend what sessions. After the event, it works to archive info presented, including videos, notes and presentations. For example, Lanyrd’s unofficial SXSW conference guide allowed us to quickly drill down through all 1,560 sessions by date and topic and shows how many people are currently interested in attending each session. That conveniently makes it a way to judge in advance what the hot panels are likely to be at any convention it covers. It’s also available in the Apple App Store.

    Both Lanyard and Highlight came up Monday in a panel discussion called “Events are Now Platforms.” Panelists Brian Duggan of Building Alliances, Loic Le Meur of LeWeb and Robert Scoble of Rackspace. After the panel we caught up with Scoble, Le Meur and Lanyrd Co-Founder Simon Willison for a video.

    Let us know what you think of Highlight and Lanyrd and what other hot apps you found in Austin!

    Larry Meyer leads the Rackspace Creative Services team. He is a former TV reporter and anchor and passionate geek about all things tech.


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