App of the Week: Lanyrd

App: Lanyrd Platforms: All Smart Phones Web site: Lanyrd.com Cost: Free

Most weeks, this space is filled with information about an app you can get for iPhone or Android. This week is slightly different because Lanyrd is not actually an app. It's a Web site. So, why, you may ask, are we writing about a Web site? Well, because not only is Lanyrd tremendously handy, it's going to be particularly useful in the coming weeks during South by Southwest.

Lanyrd is, essentially, a tracking mechanism for conference panel discussions and talks that is freakishly intuitive thanks to its interface through Twitter. Logging into the site via Twitter displays any of your contacts who are involved in or are attending workshops, panel discussions, conferences and the like. It gives special emphasis to the SXSW conference as those contacts appear at the top of the screen, and the Web site has an entire section devoted to the Interactive part of the festival.

The premise is that most people who use Twitter follow people who interest them -- a fairly logical assumption -- making the micro-blogging service ideal for connecting you to the conferences people you follow happen to work and attend.

Besides being a ridiculously convenient way to look up a particular workshop, complete with time, date, location, topic and speaker information, it allows users to announce their intention to attend and track conferences as well as add their own, making it yet another way to promote such events. And, in case you were wondering, the list of conferences on the site is exhaustive, which is surprising since the information is entirely crowd-sourced.

Lanyrd made an interesting choice, but a helpful one, to allow both attending and tracking to be part of the functionality. Tracking allows a user to show interest without committing to attend, which gives promoters of the event an idea of the interest level and lets the user gauge the growing interest and see who else might be attending -- a bit stalker-ish, but relevant for these types of events.

The site allows you to export any events you track or plan to attend to a Google Calendar, Mac iCal or Outlook Calendar to take with you on your laptop or (see how we did that?) smart phone. SXSW does have its own app for tracking the conference, but you are limited to that annual festival and to their app. With the ability to export your information to a calendar, there are a myriad of different ways to manipulate the information for your personal use.

In truth, we would love to see a Lanyrd app that accessed many of the same features on the Web site through an app interface, but we'll settle for the Web site for now.

The ease of use of the interface makes us wonder why some smart music geek out there hasn't made a comprehensive music calendar app or Web site with similar functionality. Get on it, nerds!

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