This weekend saw the start of the 2010 SXSW (South by Southwest) media conference and festival held in Austin, Texas. The interactive portion, which lasts through March 16, has received a lot of media attention, especially two specific topics- privacy and a new use for GPS-like service. Both show what business professionals -- on the IT and marketing sides of the house -- need to be thinking about in today's privacy-sharing era.
Google and Facebook found themselves under a mini-attack at the start of the SXSW conference. There is no question that mobile business, social networking, and the all-encompassing smartphone have created new challenges in the privacy platform. The complaint of South by Southwest goers- specifically Danah Boyd- is that these Onternet gurus have crafted ways to take advantage of users information (via Buzz and Facebook's new Privacy Settings) without providing appropriate information about the implications and how to turn settings off if unwanted.
Marco-Polo No More
When you want your friends to find you and find you fast- Foursquare is for you. This new mobile application that is stealing the spotlight at SXSW is definitely not going to appease the privacy-seeker, but for those who like to make plans on a moment's notice (or less), it is becoming a quick hit. Built for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and others, once loaded this application allows the user to share with friends (who also have loaded it) his exact location by "checking-in."
What does this all mean for the business professional? As privacy becomes harder to protect, businesses must work to ensure that employees are not inadvertently giving out confidential information via status updates and email, must take extra measures to ensure that cell phones are not giving outsiders knowledge of the locale of secret meetings, and must think as far outside the box as the creators of these new technologies.