SXSWi Uncensored: The Complete Oral History as Told by the Entrepreneurs, Geeks, and Dreamers Who Remade the Web
David Peisner & Fast Company
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South by Southwest Interactive—also known as “geek Spring Break”—is one of the most important cultural and economic incubators of the new millennium. Every March, more than 30,000 people, including a Who’s Who of innovative executives and entrepreneurs, flock to Austin for the five-day festival. They debate the future of business and the Internet. They launch groundbreaking new products and history-making sites. They wheel and deal. They party. They wake up and do it all over again.
How did a gathering of a couple hundred multimedia enthusiasts two decades ago balloon into one of the world’s largest, most-buzzed-about festivals? SXSWi Uncensored is the topsy-turvy, sometimes contentious, frequently messy, but ultimately triumphant chronicle of the making of a phenomenon. Author David Peisner led a team of Fast Company reporters who interviewed more than 100 people to compile—for the first time—the definitive oral history of the festival.
Twitter founder Ev Williams and Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley are here. So are SXSWi’s longtime director, Hugh Forrest; novelist Bruce Sterling; musician Todd Rundgren; and Flickr cofounder Stewart Butterfield, among others. It’s a remarkably diverse cast of narrators: influential technologists, bloggers, and investors; billionaires and homeless men; an astronaut and a pedicab driver; rock stars and actors; a porn star and a former head of the NSA. They’re all in SXSWi Uncensored, sharing stories they’ve never told before.
If you haven’t been to SXSWi, this colorful account fills you in on everything you need to know, from Mark Zuckerberg’s infamous onstage flameout to the Secret Service raid that galvanized Austin’s early Internet scene. Even if you’re a SXSWi regular, this history will not only stir memories but also introduce you to new characters and remarkable moments that make you appreciate what’s unique about the festival. After all, the story of its 20-year march from obscurity to prominence is the story of digital culture itself.