SXSW is over and the streets of Austin are finally returning back to their normal, littered state of being. That doesn’t mean you can’t still find and enjoy a little bit of the SXSW experience through proxy. In fact, that’s the very idea behind CrowdsEye, a socially-driven photo, review, and story site that focuses around real-world events such as tech conferences, concerts, and festivals.
I spoke briefly with Matt Braun, the co-founder and CEO of CrowdsEye at Alienware’s ScreenBurn event during SXSW. The CrowdsEye booth was set across from one of the largest spontaneous LAN parties of SXSW interactive hosted by Alienware in the Parmer Events Center. While the focus of this particular event was video games, I was curious to find out why a music-specific social media site such as CrowdsEye picked this location to launch its service.
After having discovered a bit more about CrowdsEye, I learned that gaming is actually a big part of the overall experience, though not the focus of the site’s content. Contributing members compete for votes and high scores while visitors get to see some of the photos and read a few stories written by folks who attended the event.
Members submit photos, stories, and even reviews to CrowdsEye. This content can be nominated for various categories including best food, best booth, best concern, best non-event picture, and more. Each vote in your favor counts towards an overall score that could land your picture on the front page of the site. This is pretty interesting, and a unique way to encourage people to swap real-world experiences online in a social capacity.
The motto of CrowdsEye is “Share what you saw; see what you missed.” This fits perfectly with what the site actually does. I attended SXSW (if only because I live in Austin) and missed quite a bit as I went from one place to another. Big conferences such as this have multiple tracks, different locations, and parties happening simultaneously in all corners of the city. It’s impossible to see and experience everything, and a site like this makes it possible to catch up on what you missed and share your own stories for others to enjoy.
CrowdsEye is a different kind of social network. It doesn’t limit your audience to your close friends of family, but rather anyone interested in the goings on of a particular event. For example, attendees of music events such as Austin City Limits may use the site to share pictures of their favorite bands and describe the experience for others to enjoy. In a sense, it offers you a chance to experience something you might have missed through the eyes of others in a communal atmosphere rather than one segregated by existing relationships.
Matt Braun, the CEO of CrowdsEye, described the site as being in early beta, with SXSW being the initial launch point. For the time being, SXSW is the only big event listed there, though more is sure to follow as the team expands CrowdsEye’s reach to other potential events going on in the near future. The base idea behind CrowdsEye focuses around music events such as concerts and festivals. With so many big concerts and music festivals still ahead in 2012, there is still plenty to look forward to this year from the fledgling social media startup.
The public goal of CrowdsEye is to become something of a home base for fans to visit and quickly discover the best photos, stories, and reviews from a particular event. The site is organized to feature the most popular content at the forefront, organized by categories and separate to the event itself.
Scavanger hunts are also a big part of CrowdsEye, giving members the ability to earn badges and site points through sharing their own experiences and voting on the submissions of others. Like Foursquare or any other social gaming site, the badges are purely for bragging purposes, though the impact of being able to bring someone a little closer to an event that you experienced could be fun in itself.
Whether CrowdsEye takes off or not is anyone’s guess, though it does pose an interesting argument. If you were to attend a big concert and heard about something going on that you weren’t able to catch yourself, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to check one site and see what you missed?
While CrowdsEye is a music event site at its core, one can only hope that it eventually expands to other cool conferences and events such as CES, E3, or even ComicCON. After all, who wouldn’t want to check out some of the interesting things you’re bound to see there?