Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Apps tell strangers what they have in common

Illustration by Todd Detwiler for TIME

Where everybody knows your name. Apps tell strangers what they have in common

Social networks first persuaded millions of us to start cataloging our friends, family members and high school classmates. The networks got us to post photos, tweet our every thought and tend our virtual farms. Now the next wave wants to cross over into the real world and introduce us to nearby strangers with common interests--and perhaps a desire to make a new friend.

There are at least 11 new smart-phone apps pushing this concept, which techies call ambient social networking. Silicon Valley is rushing to fund these "people discovery" start-ups, and everybody at South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive--the annual nerdfest in...

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