Branding at Mozilla community events

February 2, 2012 § 3 Comments

The Mozilla Japan team did a great job at branding at the recent Hive Tokyo Pop-up. In particular, they a) made a typical cafe look like a Mozilla space while also b) giving community projects a good way to explain themselves with hackable signs. It impressed me enough that I wanted to share.

The core asset was a poster-sized glossy foam core board with Mozilla branding around the edge and a big whiteboard space in the middle:

For people who don’t do events, this may seem like no big deal. But it’s huge. At something like a Mozilla Festival Science Fair, these posters let presenters tell their own story while still using a single brand to pull together the whole event. Here are a couple of signs from the event:

In addition to these poster boards, Mozilla Japan also did a good job of general signage and small elements that pulled the space together in a cohesive way. They even had small event signs to cover over the cafe’s own signage (didn’t get photo). A nice touch!

We should emulate some of this stuff for our community event spaces at Mozilla offices. I’m going to investigate building up a set of materials like this for the Toronto office at the start using generic Mozilla branding. We should also investigate for community events we do in cities around the world. We’ll probably also do some stuff like this for the Mozilla Science Fair at MacArthur’s DML conference in San Francisco.

Making 2012 plans: mozilla + web makers

November 22, 2011 § 26 Comments

Building a generation of web makers has been a big topic of conversation recently. This was the theme of our recent Mozilla Festival. And it was the topic of a conversation I led on my blog. Moving people from using the web to making the web is becoming a major focus for Mozilla.

At the most recent Mozilla Foundation board meeting, we dug into the question: what concrete things can we do in 2012 to tackle our big picture goals around web makers? I’ve pulled together board slides plus a summary of our emerging plans in this slidecast:

These slides (PDF / WebM video) represent a first cut at a Mozilla Foundation plan for 2012. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be hashing out more details and asking for ideas from people who want to get involved.

If you don’t have time for the full 30 minute slidecast, here is a summary of essential points:

  • What started out as Mozilla Drumbeat has evolved into a series of ‘learning labs’ for web makers: a mix of learning programs and software tools for people who create things on the web.
  • In 2012, we plan to grow the community and reach of the most successful of these learning labs: Popcorn (video); MoJo (journalism); and Hive (teens).
  • We also plan to strengthen our best software and learning offerings, such as PopcornMaker, Hackasaurus and School of Webcraft. We’ll integrate these into all of our learning labs.
  • A new effort for 2012 will be developing Mozilla web literacy badges: a way to get recognized for developing skills and contributing to a community within a learning lab.
  • For all of this to succeed, Mozilla will need to get better at making software for web makers need and also build up strength in the learning arena. We’ve got great people in both areas, but we’ll need more.

These plans are a direct result of a Mozilla Foundation program leads meeting this summer (‘the hedgehog summit’) as well as the feedback a series of blog postings I did earlier this fall (‘creating a web literate planet‘).

While this conversation has been going on for many months now, these are still early stage plans. They are very much designed to evolve as we dig into the details and start work over coming weeks and months.

If you have ideas and want to get involved, the best channel is our weekly web makers community call on Tuesday (formerly the Drumbeat call). Also, feel free to post comments here.

WOW! Thank you! #mozfest.

November 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

As I dig out from post-#mozfest sleep deprivation and wade through my head cold, three words float big in my mind: WOW! Thank you!

The 600 people who came to Ravensbourne College last weekend filled London with the spirit of Mozilla: making things, working together, and weaving a maker ethos into more parts of the web. And, having fun all along the way.

There is lots of good coverage. More reports plus info on what’s next will be coming out on the #mozfest website and the @mozilla twitter account. Watch those, as they are a better source than I am for specific next steps.

From my side, I want to quickly highlight a few things from #mozfest that give me great hope that we can indeed build the next generation of web makers:

1. It’s working! eg. popcorn

Management theorist Jim Collins talks about the fly wheel: all good ideas or companies need many hard pushes on the fly wheel before they catch and get their own momentum. At the Festival, it felt like the fly wheel has caught for Popcorn, and that it’s gaining momentum for other new Mozilla projects like MoJo and Hackasaurus.

2. The glimmer of games

Games that embrace the spirit of the web may be the next big thing as Mozilla explores more ways to work with web makers. We saw Paladin and 3d modelling in the browser at the Festival. We also so Jono’s very prototype-y easy to expand side scroller engine: just add URLs to add elements to the game. All of these things feel like the seeds of something bigger.

3. Kids in the house

Thanks to the Hive London Pop Up, we had over 60 kids participating in MozFest. I’m more and more convinced that it’s the 12 year olds that see the Internet as it really is today, good and bad. Mozilla needs to hang with these 12 year olds more, and learn from them. We took another step towards this in London in London. (side-grrrrrrrr, re: hiccups of getting kids into whole event, need to fix next time).

These things — and almost everything that happened at #mozfest — give me hope. They give me inspiration. They make me think we’re working on the right things.

This hope isn’t based on blind optimism, but rather on that fact that new kinds of people getting involved in Mozilla. Some of them are coders, the kind of people who’ve always been involved. But many are filmmakers, educators, DJs, journalists, scientists, kids. People who make things on the web, even if they don’t code.

These are the people who made the Mozilla Festival what it was, and who can help us make the future of the web. It’s the fact that they’ve shown up and want to make things with us that gives me such great hope.

Again, to all of you who came: WOW! Thank you!

3 days of massive learning in London

October 10, 2011 § 2 Comments

The Mozilla Festival is a way to prototype and demo our thinking about Mozilla and learning. I mention this because, from the outside, it may simply look like a celebration of innovative web media. Which it is. But it is also very much about teaching and building things with the people I call the web makers: people making films, news, games, courses and art on the web.

As I’ve said elsewhere, the emerging Mozilla learning model is a mash up of P2P pedagogy with a lab where people invent new web tech and apps. A tag line I’m playing with is:

Part lab.
Part school.
Part playground.
All about the web.

The Mozilla Festival is all of this packed into 72 hours in London. If you want to understand what Mozilla is building on the learning front, you should come.

The lab piece is at the largest part of the Mozilla Festival. We have over a dozen design challenges lined up, where people will spend between half a day and two days hacking on a specific problem set. What does the UX of a ‘story’ look like when each news event is a mash up of tweets, videos, live blogs and traditional copy? What tools will radio DJs of the future need? How do we extend Popcorn.js so it’s more useful for filmmakers? While these hackfests are clearly about making and inventing, they are also quite necessarily about sharing and improving skills.

The hackfests we did at last year’s Mozilla Festival demonstrated this in spades. For example, we did a two day session with web developers, designers and librarians were we asked: how could we get young people excited about learning HTML? Everyone learned a great deal as they had to grapple with the question from each other’s perspective, and then build something. There was just no choice but to learn. It was built in to the process. Bonus points: the thing they built — now called Hackasurus — is at the core of countless more efforts to use this lab like approach to teaching, especially as a part of the work we’re doing with New Youth Learning Network.

The ‘school’ — or mentoring — piece is also a central part of Mozilla Festival this year. We have build in almost 20 learning labs as part of the London event, ranging from how to use Open Badges to responsive design in HTML5 to a masterclass in web filmmaking. Our partners at New Youth City are also running a ‘pop up learning lab’ where 100 local young people will get to use tech to learn. So, if you have something to teach or have something you want to learn, we’ve carved out a big chunk of the Mozilla Festival for you.

Layered onto all is a Science Fair on the first night of the Mozilla Festival: a show and tell with cool things for web makers. The first ‘made for the browser’ feature length documentary film. Emerging technology that will make HTML5 games easier to create. Tools that make crowdsourcing content easier for working journalists. Plus (literally) 27 more topics. Beyond demoing, the Science Fair is also designed as a jumping off point for learning, helping people find collaborators and mentors from the very first moment of the Festival.

I’m calling all of this out partly to show how it connects into the larger narrative of what I think we should be focusing on next with Drumbeat. But I’m also putting this out as an invitation: if you have something to add to the way Mozilla is thinking about learning, then we want you to get involved. London is a place where we’re prototyping an important aspect of the future of Mozilla. We will need lots of help.

PS. you can register for the Mozilla Festival here.

Drumbeat Festival 2010: quick report

November 30, 2010 § 2 Comments

I did a quick report out on the DrumbeatLearning, Freedom and the Web‘ Festival at last week’s Mozilla Community meeting. Here is a slidecast of the talk:

It’s very much from a Mozilla perspective, so watch it in the light. And also look at some of the other awesome reports. My main points in the talk were:

  1. The Festival was awesome in terms of energy, diversity and format. People from different worlds (web + learning) became a real community, the connections are still rippling.
  2. It was a great chance to demo the ‘Drumbeat formula’ -> passionate people + creative hackers = cool shit for the web. Hackfests at Drumbeat created new WebMadeMovies demos and P2PU School of Webcraft app prototypes.
  3. We added rocket fuel to the work of some amazing innovators in the world of learning and education. There are at least five new web + learning projects coming out of Drumbeat, looks like more.

Of course, not everything went perfectly in Barcelona. The good news: we’re going to do it again next year, probably with a different theme. I’ll post soon with thoughts on next year including what we can do better.

Ps. The slidecast above comes from awesome HTML5 slide tools made by Paul Rouget and Autl Varma. You can see original slides here.

PPS. I promise not to say ‘awesome’ again for another 3 months. 🙂

#spark – what did u start @ #drumbeat?

November 29, 2010 Comments Off on #spark – what did u start @ #drumbeat?

It’s been almost three weeks since Barcelona, and we’re still seeing ripples. I’ve got half a dozen email threads open with new friends and collaborators. People keep posting reports, reflections and project ideas. And the #drumbeat Twitter stream is still bubbling. Looking around, I feel awash in possibility.

If there was one thing Drumbeat Festival was successful at, it was sparking the kind of possibility that comes when you bring people from different worlds together.

Drumbeat Festival Volunteers

As with any event, there is a risk that all these new friendships, ideas and good intentions dissipate and fade into thin air. My hope is that this won’t happen with Learning, Freedom and the Web, that we’ve sparked something important and lasting.

For those who were there, I want to throw out a small challenge: do something concrete to follow up on at least one thing that excited you in Barcelona. For some, this may be as simple as emailing or Twitter-following someone you met. For others, it may be reading up on an idea you heard about and then blogging about it. And, for a few of us, it will be starting work on a project or a collaboration sparked at Drumbeat.

Drumbeat Hackfast

The idea is to do something simple, fun and useful to you. And by doing so to contribute to keeping the momentum and figuring out further steps around learning, freedom and the web.

With this in mind, one final encouragement: describe the action you decided to take using a or Twitter update and tag with #drumbeat and #spark. Some fictional tweets based on real things people are doing:

We’re working on a ‘movement markup language’ based on GML #moveml #drumbeat #spark (@nois3lab)

I’ve written a research proposal to help with XRayVisionPowerGoggles #drumbeat #spark (@Empathetics).

If enough of do this, we’ll be able to generate a solid list of things that have happened coming out of Barcelona.

We’ll find a way to recognize and reward the most interesting and impactful Drumbeat follow up actions a few months down the road (I’m open to suggestions on how best to do this). In the meantime, we’re going to set up a way to track these tags on the new Learning, Freedom and the Web site we’re launching over the next couple of days.

A users guide to Drumbeat Festival

October 29, 2010 Comments Off on A users guide to Drumbeat Festival

I just wrote up a users guide to Drumbeat Festival to be e-mailed to everyone attending. It’s full of tips on how to get the most out of Barcelona (and revolutionize education along the way). I’m posting here on my blog as well for anyone who is interested.

1. Top tip: pick something new to do, and do it!

The ethic of Drumbeat is: learn something by building something. As you look at the schedule, watch for places where you could a) lend your skills, b) learn something new and b) have fun. If you’re a web developer, help develop a web dev course. If you’re a teacher, learn how to bind a text book. If you’re an open video nerd, learn how to translate your videos on the web.

As we finalize the schedule, we’ll tag sessions as ‘learn’, ‘build’ or ‘play’ so it’ll be easy to find learning opportunities like these. ‘Build’ and ‘play’ sessions will be the best places to look. Also, we’re going to have a ‘skills needed’ board in the main coffee area.

2. Getting oriented: roadmap sessions, schedule grids, tweets.

My bet is that this event is going to be awesome — but also overwhelming. To keep oriented:

  • Come to the cocktail party Wednesday night and the plenary on Thursday morning. Both are designed to give you a fun but useful overview of the activities that will happen at the Festival. The idea: we give you a tasting menu of ideas, you keep a list of the people, projects and sessions you want to follow up with.
  • Check the schedule grids,constantly. We will have a huge schedule grid on the wall in the main venue. This will include all pre-planned sessions, plus slots for BarCamp style sessions proposed by you. There will also be monitors with the schedule for pre-planned sessions. Things are likely to change quite a bit throughout, so keep checking the schedules.
  • We’ll also hope to have a + twitter powered system that provides a real time heat map of what’s going on. This will give you a place to watch for schedule changes, calls for help and spontaneous thingamajigs. More info as it comes together.

3. Getting around: tents, terraces and crypts

The Festival venue promises to be awesome — two art galleries and public square. You can see the general layout here:

…. and the street view / satellite view.

About half the Festival will be be in the FAD and MACBA galleries, including beautiful hall with arched ceilings and a subterranean crypt where you can organize barcamp-style sessions. The rest of the Festival takes place in tents and buses out in the Plaça dels Angels and on the FAD terrace. Fingers crossed for sunny days.

4. Work hard, stroll around, play hard.

On organizing you time: imagine a mix of working hard in a lab or classroom, strolling around a fair ground to see what people are doing and making, and then going to the playful after party.

Talking to people who are coming, I know everyone will mash these elements up differently. Some people are planning to spend the whole two days hacking on an educational video software prototype (and roping others in to help). Others are planning to just bumble bee around, looking at what everyone is working on. And others are there to make some noise and show how fun learning tech can be.

It’ll be up to you to decide how you mix these things up. If you don’t know what do do next, ask us for help (we’re wearing staff T-shirts). Or, better: take a break, walk in Barcelona, enjoy the cafes on the square.

5. Final tip: watch these key web pages

Info about the Drumbeat Festival will be updated right until the very last moment (and then throughout). Watch these web pages:

Festival page – will include social media updates starting Tuesday
Session schedule and list of sessions in detail

Also, watch the #drumbeat tag in twitter and There is already a huge amount of stuff going on there.

For those of you coming to Barcelona: hope this helps. Lemme know below if you have questions. For others, hope this gives you a sense of the action — please follow along in the twittersphere.

Teach webdev? Come to Barcelona!

September 22, 2010 § 4 Comments

Do you teach web development? Support people who build web sites? Or just like to share what you know with other developers? If so, we want you at Mozilla’s Learning, Freedom and the Web Festival in Barcelona.

One of our big aims with the Festival is to encourage people to teach and learn web development in interesting new ways. Which is why we’ve invited people like John Britton:

As he says in the video, John will hold a session where people can deconstruct and reconstruct his P2PU Web 200: Anatomy of a Web Request course. The idea is: help John make his course better, and maybe learn to teach it yourself.

The Barcelona event will include a whole Webcraft Toolshed track for sessions like this. Other activities will include: collaboratively developing next semester for the P2PU School of Webcraft; meeting the people behind the W3C’s WASP Interact curriculum; provide feedback on the new Mozilla Developer Network tutorials. And you can propose your own.

It’s worth saying, this is a part of a much large Mozilla Drumbeat push to connect people who teach web development with people at the radical (and most webbish) edge of teaching online. That’s why we’re working with P2PU to start the School of Webcraft. It’s also why we’ve got a whole lot of ‘teaching webcraft’ sessions in Barcelona right next door to ‘crazy radical innovations in how we learn’ sessions.

Practically: if you ‘teach’ web development in one way or another, Barcelona is a chance to both learn and contribute a ton. If you’re interested, you can find our more and register at:

PS. 50% discount to people who actively teach web development (coupon = WebCraft). Free registration for active Mozilla community members (coupon = DBF10Moz).

PPS. If you know people who teach web dev — especially in Europe — please tweet, forward or otherwise circulate this post.

Drumbeat Festival: it’s getting interesting

August 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

People and ideas are falling into place for the Drumbeat ‘Learning, Freedom and the Web’ Festival taking place in Barcelona this fall. We released an updated web page with highlights last week:

Drumbeat Festival promo page includes pictures of headline attendees

I’m particularly excited about the unusual learning meets the web mashups in the works. Hackerspace folks sharing what they know with radical librarians to create new neighborhood learning spaces. Web developers working with textbook remixers to find better ways to teach open tech. People at the cutting edge of online identity and online learning fusing their tech together. These are all things that will happening in Barcelona.

For those who haven’t yet heard of this event, this is our first annual Mozilla Drumbeat Festival. We’ll do a different theme each year. This year the theme is ‘learning, freedom and the web’. We’re describing the event this way:

The open nature of the internet is revolutionizing how we learn. Mozilla’s 2010 Drumbeat Festival will gather teachers, learners and technologists from around the world who are at the heart of this revolution. It’s not your typical conference. Imagine a folk festival combined with a teach in with a dash of outstanding oratory thrown in for good measure. Join us in Barcelona for three days of making, teaching, hacking, inventing and shaping the future of education and the web.

The updated site gives you a quick overview of people and activities that have been confirmed. You can also check out the (ever changing) program wiki if you want more detail.

We’ll announce more confirmations and content every few days starting late next week. If you’ve got ideas to add into the mix, feel free to add them onto the sandbox wiki page or post comments below. We’ll also be putting out a bigger call for ideas towards the end of the month.

If you want to attend, sign up for updates on the web page. We’ll be send out an announcement as soon as registration opens (target: August 25). If you want to volunteer, contact me directly or comment below.

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