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“How 3D printing changed my life”

John Mackey, the founder of Whole Foods, was in one big exhibit room talking about conscious capitalism. Guy Kawasaki, legendary Silicon Valley marketing whiz, was in another huge space, talking about the future of Google Search with an esteemed Google Fellow. Half an hour before the sessions were due to start, long lines to get into both presentations stretched like lazy serpents throughout the cavernous Austin Convention Center.

I skipped them both, and I'm glad I did. My favorite session yet was a 15-minute-long mini-talk by a guy named John Biehler: "How 3D printing changed my life."

Biehler is a hobbyist. He didn't have a company to pitch or a world-changing ideology to share. He just wanted to tell his story, how he ordered a kit to build a MakerBot 3D printer a couple of years ago, and became completely obsessed with making stuff.

The room he spoke in was small but packed with attentive, appreciative listeners. If there's anything that can reasonably be discerned as a theme of SXSWi 2013, it's that hardware is the new software and making real things is the bees knees.

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