The Texas Experience

You know how I feel about Texas…We’re not going that way

Wait. What? You want to go to Mexico from Oklahoma and you don’t want to go through Texas?

Thelma and Louise (1991)

I’ve been quite busy the last few weeks and have neglected writing about this. I need to get it out there as a digital memory if nothing else. Others have written about the shared experience. I’ll make those references here and throw in some words of my own, to keep it short. In three words — it was great.

Jetpack for Learning Design Camp

The pre-SXSW arranged by Mozilla went extremely well. All 10 participants were engaged, did good work on their Jetpacks, and seemed to enjoy themselves as well. Some highlights for me:

  • The program, organised by Gunner and Matt of Aspiration Tech, was first-rate. Mixed in with the coding sessions were group discussions, demos, and what we called ‘analog’ exercises. The latter are designed to challenge participants to take a stance and debate certain issues. One example is putting a couple of meters of tape on the floor, making a statement, and asking you to stand anywhere in the tape depending on whether you agree or disagree. Fun ensues.
  • Meeting Andy Edmonds for the first time. Andy and I have known each other online for ages, and finally had the good fortune to work together. It is great to have him back as a Mozillian after a forced exile, luckily his current employer is more open.
  • The Mozilla Party on Saturday night announcing the winners.
  • On the last day of the camp, Nick Nguyen of the AMO team (accompanied by Justin and Julie) dropped in to talk about how Jetpack will fit into the AMO infrastructure. Aza Raskin also dropped in for chat and judging.

See my picture set, and all Flickr photos tagged #jet4learning.

Mozilla posts:

Participant posts:

Press (small sample):

More information on the project from the firehose.


Mozilla SXSW Party 2010


If there is such a thing as event overload this is it. Being a newbie, it was overwhelming at first. I had bought a platinum badge (Interactive and Film), being naive enough to think I’d take in some movie panels and screenings. Wishful thinking. The Interactive events kept me busy. Perhaps I was lucky in my choices, but the interactive talks and panels were compelling. I liked the variation of themes that you don’t really get at any other conference. The topics ranged from hot topics like social media to niche topics like running an small Open Source business. The only complaint I’d have is that the convergence (tech/music/film) talks on the last day of interactive were not so interesting for me, but I can imagine how they would be for a sub-set of attendees. There were a lot of talks after I discovered that would have been great to attend that did not turn up in my pre-event research nor in the printed programme.

Of course, there were plenty of party opportunities. If you were a poor student and inventive, there were  free meals and drinks to be had around town. The Web Awards were enjoyable, with Wolfram Alpha getting the Best of Show award. Austin was great, a true spirit of its own. But it felt strangely like a city without identity. A culture hemmed in by surrounding large buildings. What I was surprised about was how it felt more like an American city to me than I expected, whatever that means.

Pickin' Up the Badges

SXSW Day 2 - 13/3/2010

There are more photos at my SXSW photo set. I need to give a big shout out to Michael Kaply, an Austin native, for some great conversations and showing me the SXSW ropes. Michael is blazing a trail at Kaply Consulting, doing as I do in working with Mozilla technologies and pushing the Firefox platform.

San Antonio

So on the 17th, the day after Interactive wrapped, I hired a car and went down to San Antonio. SA felt more like a place with an identity, culturally, architecturally, and in other ways. Lots of tourists, for the Alamo of course and the weaving sub-city river walk. Despite only having an afternoon there, I got a good feel for the place walking around the downtown neighbourhoods. With it being St. Patrick’s Day, there was plenty of green to be seen around the city. I resisted going into an Irish pub, waiting until I got back to the hotel later to have a pint of Guinness.

San Antonio

San Antonio

There are more San Antonio photos in the photo set. I hope I get the opportunity to visit Texas and SXSW again.

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