How creative can you get in trying to make a difference? Especially if all you want to do is sell simple stuff. Stuff you make. Stuff you cook. Like food. Austin is mobile food heaven. Well, if you’re not a vegetarian that is – but this old caveman likes his piece of well-barbecued meat once in a while. And Austin makes it really, really easy to get you your rack of ribs and a chilled pop. When you cannot get to the food, they bring the food to you.
Silver Streamliners, bulky 4×4 vehicles, campers that are bigger than the USS Enterprise, small minivans… no wheels are too crazy to bring your favorite part of the cow to a corner near you. Austin food trucks are about as much a symbol of Texas as the Stetson and cracking cowboy boots. Lining up for a carton of grilled meat, you feel that John Wayne may pop-up any minute behind you to order his rack of ribs with double sauce.
Lining up to get your food is an experience. A social experience. People chat about their day, their kids, the sessions they went to. By the time you get your brown paper bag full of calories, you made half a dozen of fresh friends.
And the food truck people? They go out of their hum to differentiate their truck and eating experience. The food trucks look amazingly hip and authentic, in a slightly Woodstock kind of way. And the tattooed bloke grilling the meat makes sure you can find his truck.
Food trucks are truly social objects. They have their own Web pages, their enthusiast Facebook fan crowd. They tweet where they are going to be. You can tweet them orders. You can locate them on Foursquare, and they will please you with some crazy badge!
Here at #SXSW the question is often if all these shiny apps and tools that are presented to the happy-few inside the conference touch people’s lives. I think I found the answer: if people use Social Technology to sell, find and buy food, the technology is truly embedded on the street. Maslow is never wrong.