More SXSW Primitivity

So, I was finally able to register in the SXSW online directory today. For what that’s worth, which is not much, except I think I was able to change what will appear on my badge, though I’m not at all sure about that. I’m also a little concerned that I was able to get my first-choice, dictionary-word username. I’m not going to give it here because that would just be dumb, but suffice to say it’s obvious and it’s a domain name that I was unable to get because it was registered back in 1993, before, I think, I had personally ever used the Internet. It’s a common word, in other words. So exactly how many people go to SXSW anyway? Apparently far fewer than were in the third round of gmail invitations, because I didn’t even get that username there.

Over and over I’m struck by how desperately I need synonyms for “primitive” to adequately describe what a disappointing experience dealing with the SXSW web site is. I just keep thinking about Bruce Sterling and Xeni Jardin and all the other technopundits that will likely being attending and why, if they aren’t being comped (which I’m sure they are), they aren’t just trashing this process in their blogs on a yearly basis until it gets fixed. Or maybe not “fixed,” since it basically works, but at least comes up to a level resembling what the conference is supposed to quite literally be about: the state of the art.

And yet, when I start poking around in the SXSW forums, I have a crisis of conscience. Maybe this is still a mostly-volunteer effort. Maybe they are spending what little money they get—because SXSW is still amazingly cheap as unsponsored conferences go—on actually bringing in decent speakers and content. Maybe with limited resources they just have higher priorities than coddling me when I’m ponying up my $250. If that’s the case, I can live with it. And if I can’t I ought to volunteer. As if.

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