Scenes From a Digital Revolution

Seven Profiles From Austin's Tech Community

In a tech community as disparate as Austin's, it's tough to settle on seven people to profile. There are the fledgling start-up groups, wired to the gills. There's the trusty old-school Austin techies, who watch with raised eyebrows as their town floods with Starbucks and new money. There are the tart, saucy gals running their own webzines, the hipster game developers, and the MBA smarties. There are the artists and Web designers, the pundits, the altruists, the digital film and gaming crews, the Web programmers pounding out code for hours and hours and hours, the venture capitalists fishing for a scheme and a prayer. There is also Michael Dell.

In the end, we chose to link writers up with like-minded subjects, hoping a common theme would develop. What emerges from the following pages is a cross section of a community fueled not so much by industry and commerce but by art and ideas. Their spark of creativity is probably the distinguishing characteristic. In a year polluted by talk of IPOs, venture capitalists, wonder boys, and power mergers -- that's refreshing.

There are other similarities as well. Not surprisingly, in an industry famous for its whims, they are all seeking stability and longevity. They are all, however, at different stages of their careers, some with two decades of experience in the field, some without even two decades on this earth. Some, like Melissa Sconyers or Bryan Boyer, might be hard-pressed to imagine what a world without the computer would look like. Technology saturates their lives -- the way they talk to their friends, seek out information, problem solve. The way they unwind from working on the computer is to seek out different kinds of work on the computer. For others, like FG Squared's Jason Fellman and Human Code's Seonaidh Davenport, the challenge has been to make sure they're well aware of life without computers -- whether that means noticing the sound of the wind rustling through spring leaves, or taking an hour for a pickup game. Meanwhile, Bruce Sterling warns us if we want to keep that possibility alive, we'd better do something about our stinking air.

These are all thinkers and doers in the digital revolution -- whether shaping it, analyzing it, or running as fast as they can to keep up with it. At the SXSW Interactive Conference, where many of these people will be speaking on panels and hobnobbing in the corridors, they'll probably have their game faces on, discussing and debating the world of technology that they know best. However, we'll leave all that prognosticating about convergence and the future economy, all that talk about killer apps and broadband, all that hoopla about the Next Best Thing for the conference. As we cover the SXSW Interactive in print and on our Web site, we'll be writing plenty about it. For now, I'd just like to introduce (or reintroduce) you to a few of the people in your neighborhood. Just people, living their lives.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

melissa sconyers, bruce sterling, richard garriott, seonaidh davenport, bryan boyer, traci goudie, jason fellman, sxsw interactive, scenes from a digital revolution

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