“They are the waters of March, closing the summer and the promise of life and the joy in your heart.” – Bossacucanova, Aguas de Março (feat. Cris Delanno)
Aaron Hawkins and Brad Graham are looking at me from the stage. They’ve been gone from this world a while now and yet, here they are. Anil invokes them in his XOXO talk and while there are many folks in the audience who know nothing about them—that is Anil’s point and the problem his and Gina’s new project, Makerbase, is attempting to solve—I feel their presence in the room like the moving portraits of Harry Potter’s magical world.
A conversation on twitter about Six Feet Under had me going through my blog archives recently. It was time travel to a decade ago when I was processing the death of that Uppity-Negro and reflecting on the conversations we’d had. Aaron, more than anyone at the time, ignited my digital world. His words sparked my words. His comments section was where much of my online community formed. Many of my dearest friends today can be linked to connections and ideas and ways-of-being made then. With him. I miss him.
The very first thing I did at my first SXSW experience—also a decade ago—was Break Bread with Brad. It felt a lot like opening night here at XOXO 2015 actually (thank you, Andy and Andy) although there were far more people here awkwardly but openly chatting in the Park at Washington High then there were in Austin that night. Both spaces had the same vibe: Warm, welcoming, accepting, kind.
I got it.
Dooce’s excellent talk was a bit of a mirror. She asked herself and all of us, what had we given up of ourselves to make a living online?
Eric Meyer’s heartbreaking and heartwarming talk wondered what values we were investing into our work with the decisions and systems and processes we make? This may be the central thesis of this year’s event. It was a bit of Alex Blumberg’s thoughts for us and a lot of the point of Anita Sarkeesian’s work.
I got it.
The Suck not-panel and Anil’s talk have cemented my feelings of nostalgia for the internet in the wayback machine that I’ve been having all festival. Well, the ideas of the culture back then. What I’m realizing this weekend is that despite our short memories and the ephemeral nature of our digital selves (by the way, finding references to things from just 10 years ago online that still work is a reminder of this, so hard!), we haven’t lost that. It’s a state-of-mind. It’s a way-of-being (I wanted to put “online and off” here, but that’s showing my age even more, innit?). In 2015, everybody’s Internet so you feel smaller—I feel smaller—but that’s okay. It doesn’t change that I can create. I can write. I can make things and be proud of them.
It requires more discipline. It demands that from those of us who know better. Those of us who recognize the magic of the not-so-long ago.
The memories of those we loved and mattered and have gone from that time deserve that.
Let’s break bread. Let’s get uppity.