Austin can fool you.
Geeks arriving for their first South by Southwest Interactive – an annual festival of speeches, startups, and debauchery – could be forgiven for thinking they’d arrived at the heart of Texas. The landscape is open and dry and crisscrossed with highways. Billboards advertise shooting ranges and barbecue, with plenty of roadside bars reminiscent of The Landing Strip in Friday Night Lights.
Of course, that’s not all of Austin, not even most of it. Home of the University of Texas and a long-time haven for great music, it’s emerged as the technological capital of the American South, a place where street vendors swipe credit cards through iPhones, cab drivers check into pickup points on Foursquare, and hungry startups battle for a piece of America’s last recession-proof industry.