Posted by: ejsf22 | April 4, 2010

No mas queso!

A trip of firsts…

Happy Easter everyone! I reflected a lot on the beginning of 2010 as this holiday came up and as my first quarter at Mozilla came to a close. It’s been a great year so far, but the thing that really stands out in my mind is SXSW.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip to Austin, Texas that represented a lot of firsts for me. First of all, this was my first time in Austin. I have been to other parts of Texas, but never Austin, which a local Mozilla community member described to me as the San Francisco of Texas. How could I not feel at home?

I was lucky enough to get a good taste of Austin during the time I was there, before and during the crowds, all over downtown and the outskirts of town. I learned from locals and the SXSW experience that Austin is filled with yummy food, friendly people and great weather. In the couple of days I was there, I consumed disgusting amounts of BBQ meat, TexMex, fried carbs and queso.

This trip also marked my first experience with queso, and lots of it. Now since this was my first time in Austin, you will understand that I was confused when people talked about queso as something special, something more than just cheese. That’s because it is! I obviously liked it, too much, hence the name of this post, and a Tweet from me in Austin (amidst all my intellectual Tweets). Queso is amazingly tasty and addicting. It’s basically a bunch of extra sharp cheddar and jack cheese melted with cornstarch, milk and chopped chilies and onions. I had it on everything I ate while in Austin- potatoes, omelets, chips, pretzels, burgers, tacos and eggs. The only thing I didn’t put queso on but did eat almost as much of while I was in Austin was authentic BBQ at places like IronWorks, Lambert’s and even Salt Lick BBQ while I was stuck at the airport all day. Now that my queso overdose has subsided, I need to go back to Austin to try the million other BBQ joints, especially Rudy’s, which Nick and my other local friends tell me is the best in Austin.

I can go on and on about the food in Austin and I was only there for four days! I can also confirm, yes, everything is bigger in Texas, including my stomach after all of this food.

This was also my first time at SXSW (the amazing and encompassing film, interactive and music festival) and my first time traveling for Mozilla and with Mozillians.

If you know me, you probably don’t believe this is my first time to this show since I have been to CES four times, CTIA seven times and many other technology, mobile and advertising conferences. SXSW is a totally different beast though, because it integrates so many popular and relevant topics from music, film and Web into the same conference, mixes some celebrity with every day people, and then adds countless performances and parties, all hosted in such a beautiful and friendly city. I have never been to such a fun, but all-consuming show. This was also the first conference I have attended where I had the luxury of experiencing the conference and not standing at a booth on the tradeshow floor all day or running to press meetings. I was very happy to take in Austin’s culture and atmosphere, but also the sessions and feel of the conference.

The sessions I attended at SXSW taught me a lot about two topics that really help me think about how I do my job. First, were sessions on how people can and want to use Web browsers to consume and create content, develop apps and Web sites and even more creative ways to use the Web. The other theme of sessions I attended focused on new media and strategic marketing and communications. More on what I learned in these sessions to come in future posts.

And then there were the parties. I had the chance to attend some fun ones (all VIP style, thanks to my friends) but I left before the geo-location party war between Foursquare and local Gowalla and the music parties. I had the pleasure of going to the VIP Mashable party, where you can see me having an exciting conversation with Pete Cashmore (doesn’t he look stimulated?), and sitting at a VIP table with the lovely Sarah Doherty and Tara Shahian.

I was also able to make it to the Twitter party (where I got to hear Eclectic Method spin) and of course the Mozilla SXSW Happy Hour at Cedar Door and the Peter Pan mini-golf meetup, both of which were featured in ZDNet’s “15 SXSW 2010 Parties and Meetups You Can’t Miss.”

Nearly 1,000 people came to the Mozilla Happy Hour at SXSW. It was a really fun time and my first experience connecting with Mozilla community members in more than just small groups. Everyone enjoyed time with the Mozilla execs and community along with food, drinks and Rock Your Firefox swag for our newly launched add-ons blog. The Jetpack for Learning Design Camp winners were also announced at the party and they got to take a ride in the awesome LocalMotors rally fighter car pimped out with Mozilla stickers.

I take credit for the great idea of branding Peter Pan Mini-Golf

From Wired “Web browser add-ons get the rock-star treatment inside the men's room at Austin bar Red Eyed Fly”

No matter how wonderful the trip, it’s always comforting to go home, especially on a day like this.

I know there is a lot more about Austin and SXSW to experience, so here’s to SXSW 2011, and being able to fit back in my clothes before then.

This trip inspired a couple of additional blog posts you will see soon.

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