The recently launched Lanyrd (web, twitter, blog) -the British cousin of the USA based Plancast– defines itself as “the social conference directory”, a space that was left vacant long ago by Yahoo’s Upcoming. It was founded by real life couple Natalie Downe (twitter) and Simon Willinson (twitter).
The service is still on it’s infancy but is being rapidly populated with events from all over the world. On several aspects it overlaps with Plancast, like a simple design and simplified sign-up, and seamless Twitter integration that helps the posting/tracking of an event to go viral.
Though the similarities are numerous, Lanyrd offers several functions that differentiate it from Plancast, making the discovery of conferences easier:
- Search and filter events by country/places or topics
- Speakers (through their Twitter accounts) can be attached to each event and this allows you to see where they have spoken or will be speaking (eg. Dennis Crowley from Foursquare)
- Additional information (like hashtag, Twitter account, schedule url and tagline) can be added the events
- Lanyrd aggregates a list of “related books” from the speakers.
But as Plancast, it suffers from the problem of duplicates & ownership: I created an entry for PICNIC’10 only to find out that someone had already created it (with much more details) but with a wrong/incomplete name. I contacted the developers to report this problem (they answered rapidly on Twitter) and claim ownership of the event. I’m now able to edit the content of both events but didn’t find a way to eliminate one of them.
On top of the duplicates comes the lack of a centralized database. As more services offer similar functions, you have to keep posting your conference to all of them instead of referring to a single database. The same situation is present amongst geolocation services like Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places (and we could also add Brightkite, Google Latitude…). Until a clear winner comes out, you’ll have to either decide to limit your presence to one or multiply your efforts to all of them.
On Lanyrd you can “track” conferences that you’re interested in but at the moment there is no possibility to follow people that you consider might be attending interesting events (it does create a list of the conferences attended by your Twitter friends). It also lacks a widget that you can embed on your website.
As I said above the service is new and it reaches critical mass, I’m sure that such amenities will follow.