The Big Morph
One blustery winter day in 2001, I boarded a plane in Pittsburgh and emerged a couple of hours later into warm southwestern air. I was in Austin, Texas, one of the country’s leading creative centers, where, I would soon learn, more than the weather was different. I was there to speak about economic development at the Austin 360 Summit, an annual conference of local business and civic leaders. I had been to many such meetings in other cities, not to mention countless professional conventions and meetings of US mayors and governors. But the Austin 360 Summit was not like any of them.
Typically, this sort of meeting is held at the city’s most lavish hotel or perhaps amid the classic Greek columns and Beaux Arts splendor ...