I spent exactly 96 hours in Austin this year and now I'm sitting on a plane headed back home to my beautiful wife and daughter. I barely slept. I nearly lost my voice. I only attended a couple events and I didn't attend a single session. I ended up at The Ginger Man three nights in a row. Why? Because I could actually talk to people (and they have really good beer on tap).
I love meeting new people and connecting with old friends. I love talking about all the crazy stuff we do and what it means and why we do it and how we can do it better and how we can actually make the lives of others better by sharing our ideas and making things and being genuine and opening up to one another and buying rounds of beer for people we don't know and getting to know them and coming up with crazy, goofy ideas that just might work and practicing a whole new type of alchemy: converting bytes and bits of virtual connectedness into actual, physical relationships that mean something.
I love that the measure of a man (or woman) isn't necessarily what work they have done but the kindness they show others. I love that after four days there are people in my life I can't imagine not knowing that I may have never known if it weren't for this conference. I love that I witnessed countless little acts of generosity and kindess and humility from a vast array of people over these four days and it affected me—it gave me hope. I love that a few hours after leaving I am genuinely heartsick. I already miss you guys.
I know, sappy right?
But this is what it's really all about.
We are unbelievably fortunate to be doing the work we do in this time. I am impressed by the spirit of hope and support and all-out "you can do it, man!" energy that comes from this community. I could be jaded and pessimistic (it's quite easy), and I could talk about all the people and things that are the opposite of what I witnessed (because it's there) but I don't want to. I want to put the spotlight on the fact that this crazy, internet-fueled juggernaut of a nerd-fest is really about relationships. And I believe that relationships can change the world.
So, thank you SXSW. I don't know what the future holds for this conference, but I am thankful for the opportunity to deepen old friendships and create brand new ones, all while geeking out and wandering around the beautiful city of Austin.
Until next time, see you on the interwebs.
Hugs and kisses, Josh