SXSW: The Fun Is Back

Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on March 09, 2008

Once upon a time, tech industry gatherings were fun, but in recent years, trade shows and industry conferencesl have acquired the grim feel of a corporate death march.

Fortunately, there’s still South by Southwest Interactive. “South-by” oldtimers complain that the Austin gathering is becoming more corporate and staid, but as a first-time attendee, you certainly could have fooled me. This is a tech gathering where people still have fun.

The spirit was captured beautifully by Make: magazine’s Dorkbot, described in the official program as “a science fair with free beer.” Exhibits ranged from a robotic ping-pong ball printer to an automated nickelodeon of sorts that used giant Tesla coils to generate tones—and lots of sparks.

Though there is lots of dealmaking going on at the conference and tech, film, and music festival, it does the heart good to find technologists who are more focused on the fun and excitement of innovation than on term sheets and valuations.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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