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SXSW Interactive: day four (it's getting wild here!)

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Credit: Brittany Ryan
Credit: Brittany Ryan

Today has been a madhouse for journalists like me who are covering South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW). Major announcements (and rumors of big announcements that may be coming soon) have everyone scrambling to track down facts while also covering sessions and everything else that's happening here. This is the kind of real-time action that makes SXSW so exciting!

As I tweeted via @dmnews earlier in the day, CNN and Mashable are reportedly in talks about closing an acquisition deal possibly worth $200 million. It's all speculation at this point, of course. Neither party is talking just yet. However, the rumor mill and several news organizations are reporting that an announcement about CNN buying Mashable could be made as early as tomorrow, at SXSW. (Both organizations have considerable presence at SXSW this year.)

Start-up Visual.ly today unveiled a new platform that allows anyone to create really slick infographics online. Marketers and others who present data will love this concept. Here's an example of a Visual.ly infographic offering up to SXSW attendees a visual representation of data in a Twitter “showdown” between singers Taylor Swift and Kanye West.

You'll want to read Fast Company's very thorough report and review on Visual.ly that provides all the details, including a very nice video.

Elsewhere today, I learned that 3M – the technology company known for idea sharing and innovation – is showing off its techie coolness at SXSW. Attendees can take part by visiting 3M Innovator Hot Spot at two locations: the Fast Company Grill (Cedar Door, 201 Brazos Street) and Mashable SXSWi House (Buffalo Billiards, 201 East 6th Street). At the 3M Innovator Hot Spot, attendees can interact with several of 3M's most cutting-edge digital and mobile technologies.

One of awesome features at the Hot Spot is the 3M Innovation Conversation, an augmented reality app that provides a unique way for SXSW Interactive attendees to share the innovative ideas they're hearing about here and discussing via social media. This is 3M's first year at SXSW, and I asked why they decided upon SXSW to showcase their innovations – and why now.

“South by Southwest revolves around innovation and idea sharing, which is a critical element to the culture at 3M. With so many thought leaders in the innovation space congregating in Austin, we wanted to seize the opportunity to invite people to engage with our technologies and learn more about 3M as a global innovation company,” explains Glenn Carter, manager of innovation communications at 3M. “It's important to build greater connection with Millennial audiences of influence as 3M moves forward with the next generation of employees, customers and partners.”

Which reminds me, have I mentioned yet that there's a venue just for recruitment at SXSW? I hear more than 30 employers are participating this year. And, if the signs I've seen are accurate, the recruitment area may be the only venue open to the general public.

Before I leave for the session in which former Vice President Al Gore and Napster founder Sean Parker are featured speakers, I also wanted to mention the very large number of startup companies here at SXSW. New for 2012 at SXSW is Startup Village, where current and future entrepreneurs learn all about networking, mentoring and funding. Learn more about Startup Village here: http://sxsw.com/interactive/startupvillage Some are showcasing their products or presenting their ideas to venture capitalists. Still others are here to learn all they can as they ready their product or service for the marketplace.

A couple of days ago, I happened to meet one of these amazing entrepreneurs upon boarding a standing-room-only SXSW shuttle bus headed for the Hyatt Regency, the campus that's hosting sessions on cutting edge technology developments and tech trends. The bus hadn't even begun to move when Brian Kane put out his hand and introduced himself to me.

Kane a self-described “coder” is COO at Cavootle, and he is on fire with excitement. He told me his new company, which will handle polling and voting on all sorts of topics and issues, is expected to go into Beta testing in April. Kane, his partner (who handles business development internationally for the company), and key staff members are here at SXSW to learn the latest in new technology. They want to make sure that when Cavootle is launched, that it will be the best product out there.

I expect we'll hear more about Kane and his company in the months and years to come.

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