SXSW logo 2008South by Southwest (SXSW) is a group of immensely popular cultural festivals for music and film in Austin, Texas,that rouses tremendous interest in culture buffs everywhere, and this year’s edition, is set to start this week in March. The reason this is of interest to a tech blog like this is, that social media services get a tremendous boost catering to events of this magnitude where there is always something spectacular happening undiscovered that someone or the other needs to spread the word about. But in the months leading up to the festival, social media reports have been completely swamped with one new buzzword – Geolocation.

With breakout services like FourSquare, and Gowalla leading the charge, and now with Twitter and Facebook getting in on the act, one has to wonder, if geolocation as a market really big enough to take all this action? To begin with, there are at least 50 new geolocation services coming up right now. And that is on top of the players that make it crowded market as it is. But some of them can be quite useful. Take the Twitter app SitBy.Us. If you are at a conference for a festival, it lets you see exactly where everyone is, physically.

Vicariously is another. It collects check-ins across all kinds of services around the city, to give you the exact locations of the people you’re interested in. It is quite Beta as of now though, as it isn’t really reliable. Or take AOL Lifestream – you don’t have to track specific people on it, you just need to check out the location you’re interested in, and it’ll give you the names of everyone who was there. And it works with Foursquare. So there are alliances forming already; and this can’t be a really good thing. There are so many competing services, that people will probably miss out on check-ins on a service other than one’s own. These geolocation services just need to get together and share their data, before the market gets too fragmented. Gowalla for instance, isn’t readily available on any of these third-party services. Google of course, has an answer – GeoRSS. As you could probably well imagine, the service aggregates information from all the location services for any given place.

When geolocation really takes off, we’re going to get used to a new way to look at a representation of our neighborhoods on the Internet. And if people are not to lose interest, new applications will have to keep coming in. But these innovators are going to have to offer new ways to people harness all the information. Facebook and Twitter could be answer to this problem. They are entering the geolocation space soon; and after the really throw their weight behind their vision of getting every service to come together.