I first attended South by southwest five years ago. In many ways, the conference resembled its host city of Austin.
Conference workers were friendly, welcoming and courteous. The tone was 'bring community closer together.' It felt like the Internet world did back in 1999. You felt like you were a part of something special -- like a house party, not a conference.
Today, sadly, SXSW is a different place. It's become void in so many ways.
What once welcomed you from the moment you walked in has turned off every sad soul who walked in the Austin convention center this weekend.
Registration lines are two hours long. I've watched as a dozen new attendees asked incredulously 'is this really the line? Screw that.'
I attempted to attend a session by using my email registration confirmation, to no avail. I pleaded that I would not be able to attend the session. Conference worker Maria Alvoso would not allow me in despite my ID and confirmation.
She remained defiant.
"The two-hour line prohibits me from attending," I said.
"That's not my problem." she responded.
She wasn't just defiant; she simply didn't care. Her junior co-worker said there was nothing they could do.
One conference volunteer, who preferred not to be named, said 'what they are doing to these attendees isn't fair. People payed money to stand in a line and miss a conference.'
Reporting from a two hour line in Austin, I am Avi Noam.