Read this excellent piece in the New York Times (posted by @profKakie on twitter this morning) about SXSW, the 23-year old festival founded by our friends at the Austin Chronicle.

Here the Messages Are the Media (Tweet, Tweet)
Published: March 17, 2009

AUSTIN, Tex. — Welcome to Austin, a city where, for the time being, everybody is famous, the economy is rocking, and the grid is groaning under an influx of the digitally interested.

The parties and panels at the festival’s interactive conference are jammed with optimistic, blue-sky thoughts and plans. On Monday night The Onion, the satirical newspaper and Web site (, took over the Mohawk, a honky-tonk on Red River Road. More than 1,000 people jammed in, listening to the indie rock of the Lemurs and swilling free beer, while constantly checking their iPhones to make sure that something more amazing wasn’t jumping off at another location.

In Austin this week — the interactive and film elements give way to music on Wednesday — information is not only free, but also comes at a breakneck pace, often accompanied by some measure of hype and excitement…

The looks have changed in geekland: instead of backpacks and duct-taped glasses, it was tattoos and bikinis. The pool was full of sun-dappled bathers, most of whom were either ignoring or swimming against broader economic currents.

Attendance for the music festival is expected to be off slightly this year, and flat for the film program. But the organizers say that the number of participants at the interactive event will be up 20 percent or more, to more than 10,000. Where is the money that’s paying for attendance and potential deals coming from?

“You got me,” said Louis Black, the editor of The Austin Chronicle, a newsweekly, and a founder of the 23-year-old festival…