Sorry for not being on more from SXSW but this is one of those conferences where you tend to just drop down your digital devices and decide to live life and meet people.
I'm seeing a new trend of apps, though, and startups that are springing up that are over what I call "the freaky line."
What is the freaky line? The line in the sand where when you tell people about them they freak out and say "that sounds dangerous."
Yesterday on the way to BBQ I sat down with the founders of Face.com, for instance. They do face detection based on your photos on Facebook. Aim your phone at someone and it'll tell you who they are. I tried it out and it's freaky!
Even they know it's freaky, which is why you can only use it to detect people who are already your friends on Facebook, but they are considering a new app that will let you see the name of, well, everyone.
Tonight an entrepreneur hit me up in the lobby of the Hilton and showed me a new app that will use the face.com API to automatically follow the person you are aiming your phone at on Twitter. Now THAT is freaky!
But I want it.
Add it to the range of apps that I've been using here at SXSW to do what I call "networking for introverts" like Glancee, Highlight, and Kismet and you'll get even more freaked out.
My favorite app, as you know, is Highlight. I have "Highlighted" 600 people since last Friday -- most of whom were within 100 yards of me at SXSW, so you see this app alone has gotten a LOT of uptake.
These apps really are "human ant-trail studiers." In other words, Highlight's servers are getting periodic updates from my phone about where I am and where you are. So far Highlight's founder, is being very careful not to freak people out but his servers are collecting a HUGE amount of data about where we go and where our ant-trails intersect those of other people (imagine if everyone at SXSW music had Highlight on -- he would be able to tell you who had the hottest band on Sixth Street based on where people were going, and how long they stayed).
The freaky line is there, though, and it makes me wonder how mainstream these apps will get (my prediction, after talking to hundreds of people at SXSW is -- they will be very popular, but only amongst a certain group who doesn't mind living over the freaky line).
Will you remember to turn off Highlight when you go to a strip club? Today his servers aren't talking about where you have been with anyone but they COULD in the future. That is why these apps are over the freaky line. When you use them you are opting into a freaky world and one where these companies will have to be very careful not to destroy our trust, which would get us to uninstall them.
I've seen quite a few articles written about these apps over the past few days and a lot of people are saying they feel weird using them. That's because they are over the freaky line. It IS weird when you see people you don't know on the screen right near you and you can learn about them.
The thing is we're in the very early days of these kinds of apps and lots of people at SXSW are talking to me about the rumored Google Glasses. Imagine those glasses had something like Highlight and Face.com built into them? You could be looking at someone and know everything about them.
I'm totally into this new world. I've crossed the freaky line and will use all these apps to help me interact better with people around me, as well as learn about the places I'm in (Highlight could notice that I keep going to Peets Coffee every morning and could suggest a new coffee place, or tell me about specials, like what Foursquare does).
So, will you cross the freaky line? If you do, what does this mean for Foursquare, Facebook, and even Google+?
- MediaCom CanadaSVP, Digital Strategy, 2013 - present
- Yahoo! CanadaDirector, Custom Solutions & Ad Product Strategy, 2006 - 2009
- Alliance AtlantisDirector, Insights & Product Development, 2004 - 2006
- Sandbox CommunicationsSenior Executive Producer, 2003 - 2004
- CanWest Global CommunicationsNational Marketing Manager, 2000 - 2003
- Petro-CanadaBrand Management, Analyst, 1998 - 2000
- Starcom CanadaVP Digital, Mobile & Social Strategy, 2009 - 2013
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