Marshall Kirkpatrick’s ‘Hey Big Fish’ Project Highlights Influential People And Tweets At SXSWi

South by Southwest Interactive is coming up this weekend, and that usually means a flood of content on Twitter — some of it interesting and relevant to you, much of it not. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by all the social media noise, one new tool to try out is Hey Big Fish, a website created by startup Little Bird, design firm Tater Tot Designs, and PR agency Waggener Edstrom Worldwide.

The goal, according to Little Bird founder Marshall Kirkpatrick (a former editor at ReadWriteWeb and an early writer at TechCrunch), is to give people a place where they can “just go and see the hottest conversation by the most influential people at South by Southwest.”

The Hey Big Fish website is built on Little Bird’s technology for identifying influencers in specific topics. It then narrows those groups of influencers down even further to the people who are talking about SXSW on Twitter. So instead of delivering a list of the most influential people in 3D printing or blogging or health tech (those are three random examples out of the 30 topics on the site), Hey Big Fish provides a list of people who are currently the most influential about that topic at SXSW specifically. It also identifies the content from those influencers that has gotten the best response so far.

So you can find popular content, and also relevant people you might want to see or talk to while you’re in Austin. Kirkpatrick said there’s also the lure of vanity to draw people to the site, because you actually sign-in with your Twitter account, and Hey Big Fish will tell you how your influence stacks up against the more than 72,000 people that it’s tracking. (I ranked 715, in case you were wondering.) Brands are currently occupying most of the top slots in the overall leaderboard (SXSW itself ranks No. 2, second to IFC and just ahead of BuzzFeed), but there are some individuals too, led by designer Kevin Mullett (@kmullett) and entrepreneur Lena West.

Kirkpatrick said he hadn’t been planning to launch anything at SXSW this year, because there’s so much going on at the conference, but Waggener Edstrom approached him — which was both flattering and appealing, since the agency can give the project a real promotional push. Plus, Hey Big Fish is a project that doesn’t try to resist how noisy SXSW has become, but is instead useful for that very reason.

And yes, you’ll be able to access all this information while you’re on-the-go at the conference, because the Hey Big Fish site is responsively designed, so the elements shift to fit into whatever screen you’re using, whether it’s a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

In addition to being a cool project, the site is also the first use of the Little Bird API. Kirkpatrick said that the company has been building out new features since it launched last fall: “At a certain point we said, ‘Let’s stop building features ourselves and let other people build things.'” Hence the creation of an API for accessing Little Bird data. The company plans to make both the Little Bird service and the API available this spring, he said.