Pete Rothman’s published a post at h+ on Donald Melanson’s brilliant neophiliac website Mindjack. I was on Mindjack’s board at one time, and contributed a few pieces to the site, including “Nodal Politics,” a chapter from my unpublished book Virtual Bonfire. In that particular piece, I was considering the potential for the Internet to serve as a platform for political organizing. Many if not most of the Mindjack authors were members of Howard Rheingold’s Electric Minds community, originally formed as a for-profit ad-based social site. (There’s a whole other interesting story about the sale of Electric Minds and the attempt to preserve the community as the platform changed hands.)
I don’t even remember writing a post at Mindjack about SXSW 2002 – post-dotcom-bust – but there it is.
This year’s South by Southwest Interactive conference was lean and mean – attended mainly by the core group of edgy ‘net whackadistas, the conference had an interesting vibe, like “Wow, glad the goddam dotcom splurge is over, let’s get back to what we were doin’…” And what we were doin’ had real depth, it was way more compelling than ecommerce or net.publishing, the kinds of projects MBAs brought to the table when they started calling the Internet an ‘industry’ and creating the concept of the IPO casino. Before all that stuff happened we were thinking about open and free paradigms for software development, technologies for community, new and better ways to tell our stories. We were re-inventing ourselves as cyborgs, humans enhanced by accelerated technologies, looking for ways to nurture each other and share ideas over faster, increasingly accessible networks. And though many were all a little tired, a little disoriented, a little uncertain about where they were going, there was no question that the crowd at this year’s SXSW was still committed to Internet technology and the web. Sadder, wiser, more grounded, but still eager to build.