SXSW in Scale

Fields of SwagYou know how science programs tend to describe incomprehensible phenomena using inappropriately mundane examples? For instance, that travelling from the Earth to the Moon is the equivalent of driving from Austin to Bakersfield 156 times, except without the Buck Owens Crystal Palace to greet you upon (repeated) arrivals. As pointless as such comparisons may seem, I suppose they help put abstract concepts on a scale that is more readily accepted and absorbed by the Hee-Haw oriented brain.

I had a similar revelation today while registering for SXSW. To the extent that I’ve contemplated the overall attendance at SXSW, the actual number of attendees and participants has been too hard to grasp in any concrete terms. Too large, that is, until I saw the cache of swag bags awaiting hand out.

Like the pods in Aliens, the swag bags stretched across a cavernous room in neatly ordered rows, waiting to impregnate their hosts with directory listings and promotions. It would be impossible to compress the entire conference into a single room, at least not without substantial complaining, but the convenient stacking of parcels suddenly brought the scope of the entire enterprise into focus. And I’m here to tell you, it’s … ummmm … pretty big.

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