Have you seen this new site Interhoods? It uses Dribbble and GitHub profiles and mashes them up with a map to give you an idea of who the web designers and developers are in your neighborhood, and city. Right now they only offer the service for people in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. I think they should add Austin next.
I've been back in Austin for a little over a year, and since my return, I've been trying to network a little more, to know who some of my peers are in the city. Here are some of ways I've found people, in no particular order.
Cafe Bedouins is a weekly meet-up, primarily for developers it seems, at coffee shops around town. The basic idea is that it gives you a weekly after-work time and space to work on your side project. If you're making a web app, an iPhone app, or anything of the sort, this is a great place for you to show up, get some work done, and meet some people who are on the same page. Warning: it will be awkward at first... no one is going to greet you at the door with a handshake and an explanation of "how it works" there. Just show up, plop down, and say hello to the person next to you who is intently staring at their laptop screen. It'll work out.
Refresh Austin is, according to their website, "an organization of Web professionals working together to foster new ideas and refresh the creative, technical and professional aspects of their trade". In practice so far, it seems to be primarily two things: 1) a monthly meet-up where people give presentations about web stuff, network, and have a drink. 2) a low-volume email discussion list made up of mainly web people, asking questions, talking about events, and posting job opportunities. I would say that if you're a web person, especially if you're a freelancer, you want to be on this email list.
The ATX Web Show
The ATX Web Show is a weekly podcast (although they appear to have been on hiatus recently) about the web goings-on in Austin, put together mainly by the friendly and intelligent Dave Rupert, who is a part of the local web firm Paravel. Full disclosure: I've been on the show. And it was fun! But I started out as (and still am) a listener. And if you want a regular dose of what's going on with web people around town, then subscribe.
A Few More Resources
If, like me, you are a Drupal person, the Austin Drupal Users Group is definitely something to check out. I think that meet-ups are happening sometimes, but I've never attended. You can at least subscribe to a digest of the group posts, and you'll be in on an on-going stream of Drupal questions and tips, and Drupal-related job/freelance opportunities.
Cocoa Coder is a weekly meet-up for Mac/iPhone developers in Austin. From the site: "This group is for anyone interested in Mac and iPhone applications, whether as a programmer, a designer, or an entrepreneur." So there you go. I still have not attended one yet, out of sheer lack of motivation, but I get the regular emails about the meet-up topics, and they are quite often interest-piquing.
I still don't really know where all the designers meet up and show each other all the cool shit they're making. If you know, speak up! I'd like to drop in on that some time.
And, of course, this is not an exhaustive list of everything that's out there. But it's what I know of that has caught my attention. What have I left out? Let me know in the comments.