Just a quick one as in a few minutes I’m off on the Heathrow Express of the slow now (the Piccadilly Line) and then on to SXSW. I’ll then be in New York from 17th to 21st. Do come and say hi or something if we should/could talk. I’m rubbish at that but do enjoy it once I get going.
I went to SXSW last year, but before that the only time I’d been was in 2000, when it was smaller and less OHMYGODTHERE’SSOMANYPEOPLE.
It was quite exciting then. Blogging was fairly new (crisp Blogger t-shirts were handed out to a lucky few) and it was fun to meet a whole bunch of similarly-minded people for the first time. I’ve bumped into several of them at a few points over the past decade and although we’ve spent little time together overall, it always feels like seeing a really old friend.
Last year it all seemed a bit more, I don’t know, overgrown as a conference. Way too much going on to have a handle on it all, way too much “maximising your personal brand through social media” type stuff. And way too much having to please too broad a selection of people. After ten, fifteen, whatever years, there are people who are old hands at this, and people who are dipping their first toes in. It’s impossible to run a show that satisfies all of them. It was still fun though, hence this year’s return.
I recently did a nostalgic search for stuff written about SXSW 2000. Cameron Barrett’s report is still there and, in the wake of a memorable and spirited informal session about the merits or otherwise of blogging, things like this MetaFilter post were written. Ben Brown, who made a passionate plea at the time for long-form online writing wrote a lovely piece about his SXSW which I loved reading again.
Finally, there’s this other thread which, again, seems like ancient history, but I also liked Rebecca Blood’s description of the sociable aspect of the conference:
we talked about lots of things. I spent a good deal of my time getting to know the various people I met: where do you work, how do you like it, what are you planning to do when you graduate? that sort of thing. I’d say that there was a good deal of that kind of general socialization throughout the conference. I was meeting a large number of people whose work I’ve followed and admired for a long time, and it was a real pleasure to sit down and talk to them face to face.
we talked about what went on at the various panels. we compared notes on our reactions, reported on panels others hadn’t attended, that sort of thing.
and we talked about the web. we talked about ideas that the panels and the company inspired, we threw ideas around, we speculated on where the web is going… one night several of us talked into the morning about the value of weblogs and tried to come up with schemes that would enable us to support ourselves with this kind of work.
we talked about lots of other things, too: personal philosophies, how one conducts oneself in the world, why isn’t there a quiet place in this party so that people can just talk? the people I met are interested in lots of things, so we talked about everything under the sun.
I came away from it all very pumped up, with ideas for new projects, memories of stimulating conversations with interesting people, inspired by the interest and enthusiasm the people I met had for the web and its potential.
I would go again, and I would recommend it to anyone with a sincere love for the web and its potential.
Ten years on, I still hope this is true. More of that please.