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Social Pairing Unlocks The Power Of Our Networks [Need To Know: SXSWi]

PSFK is following five trends during SXSWi, we chat with an innovator in this space who talks about how we can leverage already-existing data to find...

Dan Gould
Dan Gould on March 3, 2012.

As we all begin to look forward to the Interactive section of South By South West in March, PSFK has identified five key trends that readers should be monitoring during the festival. One of these trends we have coined ‘Social Pairing.’

People with similar interests, hobbies and needs can get to meet today through smart services that use a mix of social, location and demographic data to match profiles. Networks are looking at their member’s profiles on their site and across the social graph and linking people up based on interests, needs and location.

To explore this idea further, we spoke with Brett Martin, the Co-Founder and CEO of Sonar, a location-based mobile application that leverages social network data to reveal hidden connections and interests you share with the people nearby.

What do you think is driving this trend of ‘Social Pairing’?

Both technology-driven and behavioral trends are changing how people connect.  The amount of data available to identify ways in which people may be connected to one another has grown astronomically, and the barrier to accessing/sharing this data has been lifted with portable identity through Facebook Connect and Twitter Sign In. These technologies create ease of use for the consumer by shortening the sign up process, and improved conversion and user data for the service.

Technology innovation drives collaboration, and vice versa. When two people meet at an event, they’re able to publicly acknowledge one another, collaborate on projects. When friends or strangers team up for activities like funding artists or inventors on Kickstarter, eating meals together via Grubwithus or sharing music via Spotify it often plays out in public on social channels, creating virality.

People currently realize a small fraction of the value of their networks.  Unlocking the power of our networks, in real time, will generate tremendous value. Need a restaurant recommendation in Paris, a developer for your startup in San Francisco, or an iPhone charger in midtown?  Somewhere in your network, someone has the ability to connect you to what you need; it’s just a matter of time before technology enables you to identify the right person, at the right place, and the right time.

These systems drive tremendous efficiencies. People can connect in a way (and at a speed) that would have taken a large amount of effort (and time) before. In your opinion, what are the areas where we could see big change using such linking technology?

Social pairing lubricates markets by reducing transaction costs. We’ve already seen an impact on lending and funding through services like Kiva and Prosper, but education is another area that has a lot of promise for innovation based on peer-to-peer collaboration. Skillshare and SideTour are two great examples of the democratization of education, and there could be some industries where today’s concept of accreditation could disappear completely. Trust engendered by online reputation validates the model, another great byproduct of the massive amounts of data from online networks.

Recruiting, through LinkedIn, Hirelite, and even Facebook, is another great example. Zaarly, TaskRabbit, Airbnb and Getaround all demonstrate the future of marketplaces. Music, entertainment and restaurant discovery are all becoming more personalized experiences, curated through each individual’s network. We’re really only at the early stages of tapping into frictionless or implicit social sharing.

What talks and events should PSFK readers be looking out for in Austin in terms of ‘Social Pairing’?

We’re speaking on a panel about serendipity, that everyone should be sure to catch.  Also, there’s a panel on collaborative consumption that looks pretty interesting. But SXSW Interactive is all about interacting! Keep the panels to a minimum and run around talking to other attendees, meeting new people and connecting with people you already know but don’t get the time to hang out with. I know this app called Sonar that’s great for helping with that…

Thanks Brett!

Sonar / @brett1211

Thinking...