There are numerous reasons to attend South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive – gadget demos, professional networking, celebrity schmoozing – but what I’ve always enjoyed most here are the case studies and thought experiments that allow the tech world to pause for a beat, moving momentarily beyond How It All Works to reflect instead on Why Are We Building All This In The First Place?

Call me naïve, but I still believe we’re in the early phases of tech-as-daily-routine — still grappling with how closely we want to be connected, and what gadgets/networks actually improve our lives. Every year in Austin, I see a new wave of start-ups and platforms, and even if I’m not convinced that what I’m seeing is The Next Great Thing, I’m almost always fascinated by the debate that ensues: How will the Next Great Thing make our lives more enjoyable? And what does that enjoyment say about…

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