Mozilla Festival 2018
It is hard to describe MozFest for those that have never been there or even saw the pictures. The best I can say it is like a festival, like burning man or coachella, but for the intersections of networks, culture and digital realm. It is a chaotic ambient, where ideas storm and collide and beautiful things are made. Some of these things are like little seeds that will grow all over our beautiful planet.
Three years ago, I remember MozFest having 1500 attendees of which 500 were facilitators. That means that for each three people in the festival, one was there to help you learn something, unlock some skill, or build up some idea. This leads to a very powerful and empowering event. I don’t have the numbers for this year but I believe it was similar.
It was there, three years ago that some seeds were planted on my mind. Some powerful ideas of connecting the disconnected and unlocking agency, retaking control over our online lives. These little seeds would stay largely dormant, they would be growing underneath my conscious mind, and be noticeable in my discontent with the current social networks and business practices of Silicon Valley.
Little decentralization seeds grew and grew and finally breached surface after André Staltz talk in BrazilJS 2017 which lead me to Secure Scuttlebutt but more about SSB later. It was in MozFest that I took this path, and it was in MozFest 2018 that I saw how it changed me.
There are at least 15 simultaneous sessions at any time in MozFest. The most common feeling during the festival is the FOMO of not absorbing all that is happening. During the times I’ve been on the festival years ago, I would, like everyone else, be a busy bee flowing from session to session but this year I took a different approach.
If we think that MozFest sessions are little houses in a beautiful valley, then the paths people take from session to session, their personal growth roads, are the connections between these houses. Much like a little village or a network graph.
Instead of traversing this graph like everyone else. I decided that this year, I would meet people on the roads. I went to zero sessions but I’ve engaged with a ton of people all over the event. Meeting people at the cross-roads between sessions, as they are exiting a session with their head full of ideas or excited about the next wonder they will go into is an fantastic and I think it made MozFest more about human relationships for me than sessions ever did. I wish the organizers set some blank space blocks of time so that people would simply network.
There were many highlights on the even this year for me, the one thing I loved the most was the amount of Mozilla TechSpeakers facilitating sessions at the event. There were at least six of us doing sessions there as can be seen on our Twitter feed. And it is awesome to see these very talented people, all of which have deep knowledge in their fields, sharing and brainstorming at MozFest.
I was a co-host for a session about Secure Scuttlebutt at the festival.
Our session was a recreation of the Agorama session. They were different in some sense because most of the people at the session were actually seasoned hermies while at Agorama most people were new to Scuttlebutt. So our session felt more like old friends playing than new friends playing.
We didn’t do introductions, we didn’t gave a passive speech, we basically set the hardware up and let people role-play. Every now and then we’d do a helicopter hover and swing by some cluster of people and talk to them quickly and then let them be.
This has worked pretty well and even though many of the people at the session were already on-board at the Scuttleverse, some new people decided to join afterwards, which is quite positive for us.
Other highlights of MozFest
By devoting my time to be around people instead of sessions, I could do a ton of stuff at the event. I could hang out a bit with Hélène Petry and Carolina Tejada both who were involved in the Mozilla Clubs team and the digital literacy programs. Hanging out with the old team was awesome! <3 <3 <3 We just missed Amira and Julia a lot there.
There were a lot of people from Scuttlebutt as well and hanging out with them and seeing them host amazing sessions was awesome. There is a lot of interest in the decentralization space right now, great sessions were present at MozFest but I think the festival could do better in that space. For example, the venue network blocked most of the decentralization protocols. If Kieran and I hadn’t thought about that in advance and brought in our own routers, we wouldn’t be able to do our session. I’ve heard from both IPFS and DAT people that they too had some issues with the network. You can’t really put decentralization as a priority in an event where decentralization is blocked.
By being in London and able to join many events that were off-limits to me living in South America, I am now able to meet often with some people who I love very much. My fellow TechSpeakers at Mozilla, hanging out with them and knowing that even after MozFest, they will be within easy reach. I can’t wait to see the amazing stuff we’ll organize here.