March 13, 2002

This year's SXSW festival has

This year's SXSW festival has been the best of times and the worst of times. On the down side, the "new media" industry is noticeably in a slump. The trade show, which would normally attract scores of vendors, is almost empty - the tumbleweeds roll down the aisles unimpeded by the vendor booths that were here last year, their sponsors bankrupt or deep in duck-and-cover mode. The list of parties has shrunken noticeably, as the industry nurses its hangover from the last two years. The year 2000 has long gone, leaving behind a lot of zero-balance bank accounts.

On the upside, I've gotten to see - and to some extent, assist - a lot of talented people who have escaped from the crappy enterprises with kamikaze business plans. Shaken awake by the rude state of the economy, they are forced to rely on their own creativity and ingenuity to build things that not only matter to them but can sustain themselves. Intellectual capital has been unleashed, even driven out, and forced to build a new way. I have to think something good will come out of that.

I've nurtured my personal and professional sides over the last few days as well. I've reconnected with most of the old friends I made last year, even if I haven't spent as much time with all of them as I may have liked. It seems like I've also added as many new friends this year as I did last year, some of those people coming to SXSW for the first time, many others old-timers I've not had the chance to meet earlier. I've been able to choose from a Chinese menu of social activity: pick from column A the brilliance, the creativity, the talent, the perception, the ideas; pick from column B the warmth, the comradery, the good feeling, and the love. Of course, there's plenty of drink to wash down every meal. Professionally, I've been sharpening my own skills and polishing my reputation as a lawyer who understands the web and the people who work it. I know something good will come out of that.

Thanks to James for being a great roommate. Thanks to Brad for breaking bread and breaking ice. Thanks to Anil, the Commissioner of SXSW Kickball. Thanks to Cory, Wes, and the rest of the guerrilla wireless commandos. Thanks to Molly for the etiquette lesson. Thanks to Derek for watching my stuff, and of course for the Fray. Thanks to Pableaux, Susan, Leia, Dave, Dee, Karen, and everyone else who came to pick my brain. Thanks to Meg and Randy for the gilt by association. Thanks to every panelist who contributed to the collective wisdom. Thanks to Dori for thinking of opportunity. Thanks to everyone who shared a story or a laugh.

See you again next year.

Posted by wasylik at March 13, 2002 03:11 PM