Tuesday, March 14, 2000

Ruby Tuesday

Never fear! The show's not over (till the fat lady sings!). There are some people who claim to be an Internet pioneer because they've been involved in this web business since 1994. Well, Tuesday morning, March 14th, SXSW attendees were treated to a special keynote by a true pioneer -- Stewart Brand, who's been involved in electronic media since the 60's. Mr. Brand spoke of his Long Now foundation and the Clock of Long Now. We were exposed to ideas of measuring things in 10,000 years, which is what the Clock does, as opposed to our frenzied pace. Buried in a mountain in Nevada, this clock will be measuring time long after our lives. His perspective was thought-inducing and refreshing. I spoke with him after the panel and his interview will also be seen on CyberScene TV in a few weeks.

After this I listened in to the Austin Chronicles panel, moderated by the handsome Gregory Kallenberg, which discussed the Scene in Austin and advantages of doing business there. Many people on the panel, and whom I spoke with independently, pointed to the University as a major reason why the industry in Austin is so fertile. Like NYU's ITP program and MIT's Media Lab, UT has the ACT Lab, which, under the vision of Sandy Stone, generates the creative and technical geniuses needed to innovate in the industry. Nick West points to things like the Interactive Art Festival that occurred during SXSW as another influence from this department and collaboration with his firm Monkey Media. Poking fun at it's own separatist ego, the festival included interactive and digital art installations from artists from Europe, the United States and Texas.

Other strong characteristics of Austinites are that they are a friendly and open sort. This is a city that embraces its citizens where each sector (government, public, private, business and social) work hard together to create a high-quality life for its residents. This is one of the most highly educated cities with the average age being 31. Some discussion centered on the "digital divide" but then was redirected to initiatives by UT's IC2, Motorola and Dell to educate the lower income families. Even plans for the old, smaller airport are aimed on creating subsidized housing.