This past weekend, thousands of techies invaded Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest Interactive conference. If you were unable to make the trip, here are some highlights currently making the rounds online.
At GigaOm, Stacey Higginbotham covers a presentation on technology and health care:
To improve medicine and health IT, we need a big heaping dose of data. That’s the takeaway from a conversation with Aneesh Chopra, the former U.S. CTO and assistant to President Obama, at South by Southwest in Austin on Friday.
“Today’s healthcare information is locked away in a document — a person’s medical records — but how do you parse those documents?” Chopra asked. “The data architecture is wrong. The architecture should be built on data.”
Also at GigaOm, Ryan Kim writes about a new mobile broadband-powered payment service from wireless carriers:
Isis, the mobile payment joint venture of Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, is finally getting a public viewing at South by Southwest, with consumers able to see the near-field communication wallet in action. The demonstration at Isis’ lounge and booth sets the stage for Isis’ rollout this summer in Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City.
Here’s video of Isis in action:
Meanwhile, the big talk of the conference appears to be a bizarre — and controversial — marketing ploy that ruffled some feathers. As The Huffington Post’s Courteney Palis reports:
At this year’s South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Conference in Austin, Texas, WiFi-deprived attendees were confronted with an interesting fix to their problem: 4G hotspots in the form of homeless people.
Advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s BBH Labs were the brains behind the in-your-face idea to offer 4G network access through the homeless, who sported “I’m [insert name here], a 4G hotspot” t-shirts as they wandered around SXSW with MiFi devices. Those wanting to connect to the 4G network could pay what they desired to the homeless person offering it, in cash or through a PayPal link on the Homeless Hotspots website.
At TechCrunch, Eric Eldon digs into the hot location-based social networking app Highlight:
The overall sense you get is of an app that’s incrementally moving toward a big strategic goal. A lot of the other background location apps feel like they’re still trying to find a market fit, and adding and subtracting features in the hope that they’ll somehow get it right. Instead, Highlight is on the second iteration of becoming the way you discover friends and new people around you, layered on top of the real world connections you already have.
And finally, no tech conference would be complete without wild rumors. Case in point, this report from Brian Selter of the New York Times that CNN is making a play for social networking news site Mashable:
CNN, a unit of Time Warner, and Mashable are in advanced talks that may lead to an acquisition of the social news Web site, three people with knowledge of the talks said.
Mashable, which specializes in stories about technology and social media, could bolster CNN.com, which is one of the most popular news Web sites in the United States. An acquisition of Mashable would make a statement about CNN’s interest in start-ups and social media.