It’s almost here. The annual week in Austin where digital pioneers converge to revolutionize immersive experiences by harnessing big data and bitcoins.
Enough, already. This is Austin. We spend 51 weeks out of the year having normal, funny, smart conversations over cheap tacos or Paul Qui’s latest culinary creation without pretense over either one. We’re not above (or below) cold Lone Stars beers at The White Horse or craft cocktails at Odd Duck bar. No matter the setting, what most Austinites love about this city is the genuine nature of the people and the openness to new thinking.
SXSW was born to introduce new music and evolved into introducing new films, new technologies and new ideas. But, in some sense, the spirit of curiosity that created the festival has been overshadowed by the desire to impress and be impressed, to launch the next ‘groundbreaking platform’ or ‘hack your life through wearable technology’.
This year, let’s strive to all be above the buzzwords. Let’s be genuinely interested in down-to-earth conversations about how to make entertainment more entertaining, social media more helpfully social and technology more useful. Let’s admit when we don’t really understand net neutrality. Let’s duck into panels that are completely over-our-heads and forego the best networking event in favor of the most interesting event. Let’s care less about the #thedress for its meme status and care more about it as a scientific mind#%*! while we have people in the room who have the knowledge to help us understand it.
Some of the smartest, most interesting people in the world will be in one place this week. Let's not waste it trying to increase our Klout Score.
Elizabeth Thompson is Strategy Director at GSD&M