So it was that awesome part of the year again, the one time we all wait for, Mozilla Festival time! This was my second time being a part of this amazing event (you can read more about my first encounter with it here) and this time I was a pathfinder there.
There were 1700 attendees at the event and I have the firm belief that if you pick a group of 20 random people there and asked them what is the Mozilla Festival you’d receive 20 different answers. There will be a common theme to the answers though which is the creative nature of the event.
Mozilla’s annual, hands-on festival (affectionately known as MozFest) is dedicated to forging the future of the open Web.
MozFest is a celebration of creativity, the Web and the people who ♡ it. It is the culmination of our motto of a Web made by users for users and a place where you can learn, explore and create new things and boldly take your Web stuff to places no one though sane before!
This event is not like you usual tech convening. MozFest is a practical event where instead of being passive watching someone talk, people engage in practical activities exploring new ideas, prototypes and connecting to other awesome people. Roughly one in three people were there as facilitators meaning they were there to help others. There were sessions about basically everything, from scaling a program such as the Mozilla TechSpeakers to learning how to play the musical instrument known as Pandeiro which is a frame drum from Brazil. The Mozilla Festival will have something for everyone.
Spaces and Pathways
The festival takes place at Ravensbourne University which is probably the most amazing university building I’ve ever seen.
We occupy nine floors at the venue and each floor is a thematic space. This year spaces were: Journalism, Open Science, Digital Citizenship, Mozilla Learning Networks, The Global Village, Building Participation, youthZone - Through the lens of youths and Localisation. Multiple sessions are held concurrently in each space and the only common thing among them is the participatory and practical nature of the event. Each session strives to make itself more practical and active. Participants engage with facilitators doing all sorts of cool and fun stuff and many many incredible ideas come out of this serendipitous gathering.
New to this year incarnation of the event is the concept of pathways, Michelle Thorne did a brilliant job explaining the whole concept behind spaces and pathways which is much better than the quick explanation I will give here.. Our awesome team of organizers decided upon this concept to focus more on the participant and less on the event. If we imagine the festival being like a theme park then pathways are like suggestions of rides you can explore inside it. Such engaging with all sessions related to Minecraft. There were more pathways there than I could quote here but I will say two that really interested me: Teaching Web Literacy with Mozilla Clubs were we explored new and engaging ways to create and sustain Mozilla Club activities world wide, this pathway was marvelously explained by Amira Dhalla on this blog post, and Citizen Science where they helped people engage with or lead scientific research projects. The schedule app lists all the pathways that were available if you want to check them out.
A Theme Park for Creators
If you’re still reading then you probably already have a mental image of how crazy and awesome this event is. Its a true cornucopia of creativity where you are encouraged to explore wild ideas and concepts while having amazing fun.
Come with an idea, leave with a community!
This is the spirit of MozFest. Its the embodiment of the Mozilla Foundation and a great incubator for new ideas. You may be just walking between floors going to one of the many coffee stands to get an amazing ristretto and a wild idea just jumps from akasha to your mind, quickly grab a napkin and start sketching your concept.
Mozilla Learning Networks
The Mozilla Learning Networks space was located on the 8th floor, way up high in Ravensbourne. Our space had some pathways crossing it: Teaching Web Literacy with Mozilla Clubs, Voices of Diverse Leaders, Learning and Leading, Scaling Participatory Learning Experiences, News to me!, Inclusive Communities, Youth Learning, Arts Awards pathway.
The Mozilla Learning Network offers programs and a global community dedicated to helping people learn the most important skills of our age: the ability to read, write and participate in the digital world.
The MLN space had a lot of amazing things happening inside it. Not only our pathways were present there but also people from Peer 2 Peer University, our Help Hub and lots of opportunities to connect and share stories.
There in our space I was acting as a pathfinder for the Teaching Web Literacy with Mozilla Clubs pathway. I helped facilitators and attendees get the most of our pathway and made a lot of noise with our cowbells (we’re a noisy bunch).
Teaching Web Literacy with Mozilla Clubs Pathway
As mentioned before, Amira did an amazing job explaining our pathway. We had many sessions there touch topics such as collaboration and participation techniques, club creation and sustainability, community building, and digital literacy programs.
Our little area was beautifully decorated with flags, posters and happiness. Besides the awesome ambiance, we had a lot of amazing people helping us. From our amazing regional coordinators, some constantly going between the participation space in the 2nd floor and our space on the 8th floor, to our facilitators and volunteers. We had an amazing group exchanging stories and sharing our Mozilla Clubs journey across the world.
I feel very fortunate to be able to witness all the goodness coming out of our space. I’ve learned much there about retaining communities, facilitating sessions and playing with Little Bits. Many connections were made at the event and we’re all better equipped than before to handle the challenges of digital literacy.
I was so busy running around I didn’t had time to take many photos. I wish we had a photo with all our facilitators from our pathway but MozFest is such a chaotic time that I don’t believe we were all at the same space at any given time. I don’t regret that much though, there is a place where we all meet and where we’re all present, the Web.
I’d like to thanks: our pathway team, Amira and Caro, who worked like giants to make our pathway shine like a beacon of literacy at the event; our Rio Mozilla Club members Mario and Hélène who spread their experiences and knowledge beyond the confines of the marvelous city; our amazing facilitaros, Shreyas, Su, Nick, Sayak, Ani, Tina, Simeon and Drew, all who given their time and effort to teach us so much stuff! You All Rock!.
Until Next Time!
MozFest may be over but what is created there will echo through the interwebz. Ideas take shape and communities form. This festival is a catalyst, a reaction by Webmakers to shape the Web in the way the want. A Web open and accessible to all. I am already dreaming of 2016 and what we’ll see at that Mozilla Festival. As others have said, its our favorite time of the year.
Don’t forget your coffee