south by southwest 2000


when i was 16, went to yearbook camp. not summer, not cheerleading, not leadership camp. no, yearbook camp. where we were sent to learn the then-cutting edge in publishing technology: pagemaker.

instead, it was all about the mountain air; the planned events at night (ah, ice skating and ice cream socials); and the people, it was all about the people. we shared a cabin with 20 or so girls: the girl who didn't wear a bra and flirted with all the boys, the quiet one who sat in the corner with their headphones on the whole week, the self-conscious made-up bleach blonde girls who changed outfits every chance they got, and the genuinely nice just wanna have fun girls.

karen was one of them. she and i instantly became friends, sharing giggles, chats and kodak moments. at the end of the weekend we exchanged addresses and promised to write. we did, for weeks that became months that became years. eight years later, we're still dear friends.

last week at south by southwest, i learned something. i don't really enjoy conventions. i get antsy after a few hours of discussion, i bore of trade show displays and i pretty much hate to schmooze (i think i handed out three business cards, total). but i enjoy sitting with a small bunch of people and talking, sharing memories and ideas. i like just getting to know them. i love the connections.

which, really, is why i love the internet. it's a forum to exchange ideas and get thoughts across time zones and cultural barriers. it's a playground for design and technology. it's a lounge to soak up whatever it is you love, and for me, it's people and stories and art. so it's only appropriate that i enjoyed south by southwest, because simply, it was a place to fall in love with the internet all over again.

and it probably didn't have to be austin, nor the month of march, nor some interactive festival to let that happen. if i'd just invited the same bunch of people to my apartment, with a fridge full of beer and a spread of good food, and we all sat in a circle talking and laughing, i'm sure i would have felt exactly the same.

giddy. thrilled. mesmerized. energetic. overwhelmed.

one week later, and i'm still so overwhelmed with the people i've met and the connections i've made. an instant message lights up on my screen, an e-mail appears in the inbox or a plan is mentioned to get together again in the not-so-distant future, and i can't help but smile, because i know it won't end there. it's just the beginning.

in order >>