When names become people

As SXSW Interactive wraps up today, I find myself feeling like a kid again. A kid at the amusement park who realizes there’s only an hour left until the place closes, the rides stop, and everyone goes home. It feels like depression. But I know it’s only because the high is coming to an end, and reality will soon slip back into place.

Austin introduces a whole new meaning to the word accessibility. Here, it means access to people. People who are approachable, interesting, fun, inspiring, and infinitely smarter than you. People with names. Names that, until now, have only graced the covers of books. Names that appeared in the headers of personal email and large discussion lists. Names that got tucked away into the corner of About pages at well-known URLs.

SXSW transcends the traditional conference. It’s a gathering of unique people with similar interests and a vivid passion for what they do. Bring all those people together in the same city, put them in the same venue, and the magic happens. The opportunity to match names with real faces and voices and personalities is wonderful. Sure, the keynotes and panels are great. But there’s something about the connections made here. The names become people. Those people turn into friends. And that’s cool.