Every year at SXSW, there are those hipster terms that buzz through the hallways like flying ants craving sugar. Last year, most of the die-hards tattooed “Curation” on their well-muscled biceps. This year, the magic word to cure all evil is Social Discovery.
Wikipedia describes that a Social Discovery Platform is an implemented software platform for consumers to search for other users, either by physical location or by other criteria such as age, name, interests, gender, etc. Social discovery platforms are tools for social networks to build themselves, when each connection between users is created by the action of Social Discovery. In layman’s terms: Social Discovery lets you actively look for people you want to connect to.
The ability to locate people that are interesting and that you can fine tune on gender, age, interests – and looks – opens a big box of possibilities. Privacy issues, and the slightly creepy factor aside, it lets people find where interesting people are, and it gives possibilities to connect . Most of the social networks, from Twitter over Google+ and Facebook to Foursquare allow a fair level of Social Discovery ranging from where are they (location) to where are they (on the Web). Social Discovery reaches beyond the 2D environment of the Web, into the 3D real life experience.
#SXSW 2012 swarms with small apps that allow Social Discovery on top, and around the bigger social networks: the names of Heatmap, Sonar, Highlight, Glancee,and Banjo are whispered throughout the halls of the Austin Convention Center. Some call Social Discovery a social disaster. Personally, I use it to locate and connect to interesting people. In a world where information and connection to people are a hard currency, adding interesting people and keeping in touch is not only interesting, it’s valuable.
Just… be a bit careful out there.