How can I possibly explain the magic of SXSWi? Imagine you are high in the sky with Willy Wonka in the great glass elevator. Anything is possible. Magic is probable. (Sigh) That is how SX feels. What moments took my breath away in 2008? Let me share a few.

  • Sitting on the floor in the packed Browser Wars Panel and hearing Chris Wilson (IE), Charles McCathieNevile (Opera) and Brendan Eich (Firefox) explain that while they are at war, they are united on web standards. The point is to win by creating a better user experience, by building a better browser, not carving the web up into 8 different standards.
  • Closing my laptop, putting away my phone, and finding a quiet place to have a deep conversation with brilliant minds about dreams, hopes, and concerns like Henny Swan @ Kerbey Lane, Aarron Walter and Leslie Jensen-Inman @ the Libery Tavern, Jon Hicks @ Halcyon’s, Steph Troeth @ the SXSW coffee shop, Rob Weychert @ the Hampton Lounge and Kimberly Blessing @ Rio, just to name a few.
  • Geeks Love Bowling: Playing “Conjunction Junction” at the bowling alley by hooking up geeks and ideas and causes. You see, I am a connector and SXSW is my perfect playground. In fact, connecting is what SXSW is all about, not via Bluetooth, not over Twitter…but face-to-face over a shared passion, and a shot of Patron XO Café or perhaps a latte. A meaningful connection that forever adds human depth to all future digital interactions.
  • Dewey Award and Accessibility Internet Rally Celebration: Listening to stories about Dewey Winburne, one of the co-founders of SxSWi, and understanding why I can’t ever, ever get enough of this event. Hugh Forrest shared an idea on the current directions of new media technology he had learned from an attendee this year:

    The first wave of the new media boom was all about the gold rush. But, in this secondary boom, things have changed a bit. More people are now tuned in to the idea of making a very positive social impact with their new media creations. So, we’ve moved from the gold rush to the good rush. – sxsw attendee

    Hugh really liked this idea. His only disagreement was that he thinks:

    the good rush has always been with us, it just sometimes gets glossed over. In our best moments, the good rush is what we are all about at SXSW Interactive. Indeed, the Dewey Award celebrates this profound yet profoundly simple idea that new media can serve as a bridge between the haves and the have nots in our society. This is the good rush. – hugh

I paused for a moment, and looked up at Hugh and realized that SXSW is just a great big glass elevator and I’m really standing next to Willy Wonka.

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world?
There’s nothing to it – gene wilder