Darren Waters

Hunting the bowler hat at SXSW

  • Darren Waters
  • 14 Mar 09, 01:26 GMT

The South by Soutwest Interactive Festival is a celebration of web culture and is a great way to showcase the way online and offline worlds are merging in practical and exciting ways.

A number of companies have launched location-aware tools at SXSW. From FourSquare, a location-based nightlife game, to Whrrl, a new social network infused with GPS.

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One of the more intriguing and fun examples at this year's festival is something called The Hat Game.

The premise of the game is simple: someone, somewhere in Austin is weating a bowler hat and you have to track him or her down and then say: "Excuse me, I do believe you have my hat!"

You then become the hat wearer and the person who manages to keep the hat for the longest period wins a prize.

So what has this got to do with the web and interactivity? Well, inside the hat is a concealed GPS device and the position of the person wearing the hat is plotted in real time on a Google Map.

People who spot the hat can also update its location by Twittering using the hashtag #hatgame.

The game starts on Saturday and runs for three days between the hours of 1pm and 9pm.

The Hat Game has been organised by the Arts Council of Wales and digital agencies, locative games firm Simon Games, the Umbrella Group representing different UK firms and individuals at SXSWi and web design company Pollen 8.

It's not a new business or service but is being used as a calling card for the digital creativity of developers in the South West of England.

Happy Hat Hunting.


  • Comment number 1.

    Great - can we have them intregrated into policemen's helmets so we know where they all are ?

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Darren,

    I really enjoyed reading your article on status updates.

    I think the launch of today at SXSW also shows that microblogging (or status updates) is going to become a huge part of our professional lives.

  • Comment number 3.


    That is something we all wish to avoid, no? What would life be like if, despite our greatest endeavours to feign illness in order to spend a wickedly short weekend (oft consumed by work) with one's wife/husband for some well-deserved quality time, our boss could simply zip down to his computer and run a GPS real-time plotter to determine your precise location, using ready-to-hand social networking tools? Your precious weekend/weekday together will be spoiled, your husband/wife will be left terribly upset, and your boss will fire you for lies and insubordination!

    And the only way we could avoid this travesty is by mislaying our phone at home?

    Technology marches on! Soon we won't even be able to lift our milk from the cobblestones of our pathway without being ruthlessly pinpointed, plotted, Tweeted, and aerially photographed by sociopathic friends and totalitarian bosses!

  • Comment number 4.

    Update on The Hat, for those interested:

  • Comment number 5.

    Why would the Arts Council of Wales be promoting the technological potential of South West England? Shurely Some Mistake??


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