A Better Live Wiki: HackPad Could Be Your SXSW Backchannel

There are lots of apps for finding the right people and parties at South By Southwest this year, but what about, you know, actually going to panels and sharing your thoughts about them? Well, there’s Twitter for short-form public sharing, and messaging apps like GroupMe for group chats. But HackPad has a more serious idea: actually taking notes about the panels and keynotes you go to, with other people who care.

It sounds dangerously productive for the fun-oriented event. And it is — this is one of the better live group word-processing products I’ve seen in a while.

The interface is nice and simple. You log in with Facebook, or with Google or by creating a new account.  Then you can just start creating and editing docs. Participating users appear on the right side of each page, and each person gets a unique color bar on the left side of where they’re typing. Live edits are in real-time, so you can watch other users pounding out their own notes while you’re busy sharing yours.

The top menu includes a simple set of actions for all the main things you need to do. There’s a plus button for creating new docs, a search bar, and basic WYSIWYG commands including a big button for creating links to other docs or the web (something a lot of editors don’t show off well in their interfaces).

Two-man veteran engineering team Igor Kofman and Alex Graveley (who earlier in his career created Tomboy Notes) also created a special sub-site for SXSW. A list of every panel and talk  is available now at austin.hackpad.com, organized by hour and by day. If you’re here at the rain-soaked conference, or interested in any of the panels, be sure to check it out.

Overall, the Y Combinator-backed company feels like it’s on the right track for pushing online collaboration forward.