Increasingly, I’m not so big on the, “Here’s me with somebody you’ve maybe heard of” photos, but I really like this one (nice work, C.C.!)
Amongst the many “Hey, That’s Terrific…That One Thing You Do…” relationships I’ve kinda fallen into with people I’ve met through the internet, JoCo's a Top 10 pal. Hanging out with him (and the rest of the Fun Bunch) at SxSW this year was just shiny goddamned gold for me.
Now, let’s just stipulate that all conferences are pretty much bullshit, including the ones I really like, such as this one (and ETech and Macworld and a handful of other standouts). And, yes, absolutely, all events get triple-annoying when most of the people there seem concerned primarily with either promoting something or repeatedly ejaculating their location and dinner plans onto the hapless faces on their social network lists. But.
Bullshit or no, good conferences attract good people for one reason; they know other good people will be there. You don’t go to act like a hero; you go to meet the people who are heroes to you. And, to me, there are 100-year opportunities for awesome in the hallways and bars and hotel rooms and even at the horseshit parties where loud music and free liquor turn a lot of people who should know better into retards and mooks.
But the point is that there are also crazy-rare chances to meet and hang out with people you’d never in a million years get to have all in one place. And, for three hazy days last week, I wandered from one Algonquin Round Table to another, and I must tell you it was pure, unironic joy.
I’m as cynical as anybody about how a conference or a meetup or a what have you looks when the enthusiasm and joie de vivre of the environment is clunkily translated into 140 characters or a “liveblogged” transcript of a session. But that’s kind of the point, I guess; truly you have to be there. And, frankly, that’s one giant reason I’d rather keep my head in the environment than worry too much about photographing my food and updating a web site where strangers can learn where I’m taking a crap.
Anyhow. Take it as you will, but remember that the web is not you and it’s not me. The web is just a braindead platform for moving information around, but it’s not your actual friends. And, while it’s insanely understandable to tire of all the horseshit and look-at-me stuff, I must advise you: never miss an opportunity to meet the faces behind your favorite avatars. Especially when they’re all in one place? Wow.
Not a list of peoples’ jokey internet names, not a moldy hillock of kinda-funny-once “memes,” not a series of asynchronous “@” responses, and not a goddamned drama about who follows whom today and what it all means. Talking about meeting people who speak in sentences and have complicated lives and make great things and care about a lot of the same stuff you do. That’s the thing.
Online, offline, or whatever: as far as I’m concerned, it’s only a community when it’s made out of people.
Thanks to the vigilant Archive.org, the first project I ever made for the web lives on.
I’m working on a longer post about my modest, mid-90s labor of love (get ready for some hilarious FileMaker Pro anecdotes), but for now I’ll just leave you with a few of my favorite “brushes with celebrity.”
“I don’t write the songs in The New Pornographers. So for me, it’s kind of like sleepover camp, where you get to go in canoes and jump off floating docks and stuff — of rock.”—Neko Case, in an interview full of wonderful insights, humor, and music from her swell new record.