Héctor Ramos

Geolocation Viz During South by SouthWest

The team from SimpleGeo have just released a visualization that displays the aggregated data from the top geolocation services used during South by SouthWest in Austin this month. These include checkins through Gowalla and foursquare, as well as geotagged Flickr photos.

In my experience, Gowalla was the most useful geolocation service. Yes, I may be biased, as it is no secret that I am a huge fan, but the team really did their best to create a great experience for their users.

All the panels, events and venues had their own Gowalla featured spot already created, with a proper description and location. The spots were time-sensitive, meaning that they would only show up shortly before and during the related event. This helped a lot when scheduling which panels to go to, as all ongoing events were quickly highlighted. On top of that, any hot spot (events with an increased rate of checkins) were even more visible, making it all the easier to find the best venues.

I tried using foursquare for the first few days as well, but it really was a bad user experience to wade through all the dupe, inconsistently named spots. I could rarely find the event for a panel I was in, even minutes after it had started. Still, I made use of its trending feature quite a lot, which is similar to the Hot Spots feature in Gowalla I just described.

It certainly was neat to be in a city full of users like us, checking in everywhere — most venues would already have quite a few people already checked in. It’s a different feeling from my home town, where checking in to the same place as another user on the same day is a rare sight. All in all, it was a great experience for both Gowalla and foursquare users.