It was 2011.
Try and look behind my “no luggage, no hotel” eyes. From the inside, SXSW was the most beautiful and most perfect thing imaginable. An event of great importance. A digital Davos, where the future of the internet would be decided, and you could get a bloody good drink in the interim.
It is 2012.
From the outside, SXSW seems to consist of drinking (still a viable and worthwhile pastime), startup gossip (again, who am I to judge), and pictures of people’s food. It’s harder to see the wonder this time.
This could mean any of a few quite startling possibilities:
- The Wonder is not there for everyone. It is the individual’s responsibility to create their own adventure, wherever they go.
- The Wonder is not communicable by the means the most of us currently communicate. It is therefore the storyteller’s responsibility to actively tell the story. As it turns out, it’s not enough to idly scatter evidence of your experience like deep-fried breadcrumbs.
- It’s not as good as it was. This explanation is stupid and churlish, but I’ve no doubt that people resort to it.
This all comes into sharper, weirder focus as I contrast it with my own experience of the last four days. I didn’t go to Texas - I couldn’t. Instead, I moved house - from Brixton to Dalston. Moving to a new location not as a flying visit where you drink all the Bloody Marys and leave, but a commitment to a new condition of living. I moved in with new people, not as an intellectual conference-tryst, but for good - as trusted friends with a common bond.
As I look out at the alien Dalston sky tonight, acclimatising to my new view of the Shard, the most exciting thing about it is knowing that I’m just starting out on a journey of getting used to all of this.
That I have got the best of my SXSW weekend this year.
That The Wonder is wherever you can find it, however you can tell it.
Scribbled in journal, Tues 13th March 11:46 PM