I sauntered down to the Mozilla Festival, which was being held near to the O2 in London last weekend not really knowing what to expect. I can report it was well worth the saunter! An atmosphere of openness, participation and a culture of inclusiveness, teaching and helping others and seems have grown over the years and was very encouraging. Many new web tools, ideas, projects and services were explained, some I knew a bit about, others I had never heard of before and some of them were pretty exciting. The festival was organised around the themes outlined below.
- Teach the Web. New approaches for teaching digital skills, coding and webmaking.
- Connect Your City. Building local digital learning networks around the world.
- Skills and Badges. New ways to recognise skills and learning that happen anywhere.
- Look Who’s Watching. Privacy, surveillance and tracking. How do we protect transparency and user sovereignty online?
- Open Games. The web as an open gaming console for the world. Play and create next-generation web-based games.
- Source Code for Journalism. Creating the tools news organisations needs to thrive on the open web.
- Science and the Web. Redefining how we experiment, analyse and share scientific knowledge.
- Open Data for the Open Web. Uncovering and building with data from the web and everyday world.
- Making the Web Physical. Hacking on physical devices and gizmos connected to the web in exciting new ways.
- Webmaking for Mobile. Making apps and tinkering with your own phone. The web as platform.
I did not just sit and listen but I learnt how to do things and left with tools and offers for future help if I got stuck and even possibilities for collaboration on projects. For example I knew about GitHub but now I know more about how I can use it for my research. There are also a myriad of new initiatives using crowdsourcing to solve problems that are not usually referenced, which I learned in an Upscience workshop as I got stuck into doing some of the crowdsourced work for environmental projects myself. Other workshops focused on teaching digital skills, coding and webmaking. I also got an update on how BRCK is being used in developing countries where access is limited, It was designed and prototyped in Nairobi, Kenya and has been adapted to address electricity and internet connectivity problems in Africa. Interestingly it is also being used extensively in the USA now too, where similar problems are also faced. One of the coolest projects I came across was SNAPP, which is enabling small businesses around the world to develop apps for their work without any coding skills from their smartphone. It is based in Chile and I am looking forward to seeing how it develops. The closing keynote from Beeban Kidron on young people and the web, its future and how the web may influence what it means to be human was also on point. There were way too many workshops for me to review and you can find them all here.
However, the conference ended for me on a great note with a group of avid sci fi readers who discussed the Web of Things from the perspective of science fiction literature. I left with a load of suggestions of books to read and films/series to watch, the first of which will be Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. From our discussions it seemed like a lot of what we predict and we imagine comes to pass! The elevator chatter, corridor discussions and very boisterous karaoke, also helped to make it a fun event, one which I hope to attend again and I am especially looking forward to getting a chance to test out the Firefox OS smartphone which is being described as an OS or a computer rather than as a phone. Makes sense to me, I have been saying that for years!