SX

As you may notice from this week’s posts — we’ve consciously uncoupled.

For the first time in a decade — I’m not attending SXSW. Oof.

I’m definitely missing the speakers/panels* — especially the ‘convergence’ track, which in the past few years has merged tech+film so well.

I’m moodily nostalgic for club-hopping between bands’ high-stakes sets, blagging our way into ‘exclusive’ parties, scrambling to RSVP for every guest list, tan-lines foiled by an Astar-style wristband arm.

& catching film screenings in SX’s unique atmosphere also transports me to Wistful-Ville. Weary feet resting in a haunting (& haunted) art deco theatre, cringing at ‘two-part-ers’ in bawdy Q&As, stumbling on unexpected after parties, enjoying real talk with unpretentious & curious distributors/producers/creators…Double Oof.

Not to mention being plopped into a Hadron Collider of comedy performances, with actors/musicians/improv pros/stand-ups free to goof around.

& then there’s the karaoke RVs. But that deserves its own post. Watching RVIP grow & flourish is the perfect analogy for what SX started as & has become.

My love of SX was so well-known that for the past four years, I’d teach a course about its effect on digital & popular culture at work.**

Sadly — a week that’s launched so many great careers & inspired millions — is not an affordable** option for many (employers) anymore.

Visiting Austin in late October/early November — I was reminded that even ‘normal’ seasons are transformed by the population influx (100,000 new residents since 2010). Now, there’s nothing *wrong* about gentrification trickling East, revitalizing the downtown, etc., but infrastructure fixes*** should start accommodating these new weirdos…Can’t imagine how frustrating it’d be to try using the I-35 everyday.

All this to say — it’s been a weird week, watching #sxsw updates trickle in, ramp up & inevitably take over the social streams. NostalgiaWistfulExpiAlaDocious.

If you’re there — I hope it’s all you expected & more. I hope you meet interesting people in line for something that was interesting enough to line up for. I hope you don’t get sucked into office-emails/conference calls & take a moment on Lake Austin trails, or in Continental Club, or eating a breakfast taco, or on Rio Rita’s patio to pause to bank a memory.

If you’re not there — DIY some SX magic in your next visit to a cafe, gallery, party, or neighbourhood stroll. Communities have a lot to learn from Austin — not just how they embed/support/proselytize their art — but the degree of respect & kindness they bring to daily interactions. I love my hometown & Toronto friends — but Austin friends are different. Something about that city truly brings out the best in people.

xo
mw

*bumblebrag: it was an honour to present conference talks at interactive/film for four years. I recommend the panelpicker system to pitch a session. If this is not an affordable option (badge aside — you gotta get/stay there), consider modelling how you prep any presentation/conference on SX’s diversity index, guiding Qs, coordination routines, materials, etc.

**full disclosure/FA$Q: for the past two years (2014/15) I received a pass for my role as the NXNE Interactive curator/manager; four years prior I received speaker badges (2010–2013); & prior to that, as an employee of the Austin Music Foundation/Hill & Knowlton. For years in the public service, I’d use accrued vacation days/& pay/arrange accommodation/travel.

***as an adopted Torontonian I know this is very pot/kettle…

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