Mozilla Events: Web, Makers, Community

IMG_0171.jpg / Brett Gaylor / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

It was a stellar few weeks. I’ve joined Mozilla and over the next few months, I’ll be working to craft a global event strategy to grow a community of people — from web developers to artists, designers, lawyers, filmmakers, journalists, teachers, and more — who tinker with the web and make tools to teach, learn, and build with one another.

Following the exploratory prototyping at Global Melt and last week’s Mozilla All Hands in Mountain View, we’ve clicked together some initial scaffolding for the events strategy. Ideas are fresh, and together we’ll steadily be iterating on how to improve this framework.

As part of the process, we’re embracing the “release early and release often” model and building in participation early on. There are many places to improve, and feedback is most welcome (blog comment, email, mailing list, edits to the wiki, community call). Let’s be mission-centric and medium agnostic.

Relatedly, Matt Thompson led a thoughtful thread at the Mozilla All-Hands about how to work openly. The goal of this style of working, as he noted, is not the mere performance of consultation nor magical crowdsourcing. Rather, and very importantly, working in the open is about:

•    participation. rocket fuel for smart collaboration. •    agility. speed. flexibility. getting shit done. •    momentum. communities want to push boulders that are already rolling. •    testing and rapid prototyping. iterating and refining as we go. •    leverage. getting greater bang from limited resources. punching above our weight.

These are brilliant guiding principles for why Mozilla cares about events in the first place, and as best I can, I’d like to apply them to how we build the global event strategy. Hence, the summary below. ^^

IMG_0518 / Nathaniel James / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Why events?

We’re focusing on live events because we believe that by working together in a shared space, we can achieve more. Ideas emerge in realtime, conversations evolve, new connections are made.

Whether you’re a HTML5 wizard or a web newbie, we want to inspire a maker’s approach to the web, and enable both tech-savvy people to solve cutting edge problems as well as non-geeks to understand the web and shape it as they wish.

To achieve this, we’re envisioning all sorts of web maker events. These meet-ups offer new entry points  to Mozilla projects and people — to participants in a global effort to keep the web open and modifiable. Through shared action in realtime, we can improve web tools that benefit many groups — artists, educators, businesses, activists, students — anyone really, who uses the web.

We are all the makers of the web. We conduct much of our making online, but we can teach, learn, and build in new and engaging ways together in a shared space.

The Open Web Bot / the waving cat / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Web Maker Events

Over the last year, there have been a number of meet-ups, workshops, and design jams in several cities around the world. We’re aiming to make it easier and more compelling to host something in your town. Importantly, we need to offer low-barrier ways for participants to dive into current projects and empowered to start and build their own.

One method we’ll try out will be microevents. These small-scale activities will outline simple, replicable actions that can teach and engage a local audience. For example, Ben, Brett, and their team are running Buttercamps to bring together web developers and filmmakers to experiment with popcorn.js and the developing environment butter. (If you haven’t seen this Donald Duck demo yet, check it out!).

We’d like to do a Buttercamp-in-a-Box, so people like Patrick in Denver can host a meet-up and talk to folks in his town about this neat new technology and more broadly about the open web.

A number of other Mozilla projects have great event components, like the Hackasaurus Design Jams that teach kids and adults alike how to use x-ray goggles and play around with websites. There’s also lots of potential to explore new formats and themes, like an HTML5 Basics Boutique or a Web Craft Night.

(The latter suggestions came out of a very charming outing with Aurelia, where we potlucked at a friend’s house and everyone brought a craft project, like quilting or mending or for me a kindly donated paint-by-number, to work on. We sat and talked and made our things, and it was the perfect environment to get to know one another and to work on a project you were interested in while learning about other techniques.)

Wouldn’t it be cool to have a web craft night where friends worked on their blog or their latest video or a new website and shared tips and ideas with some nice snacks and good company?

IMG_6588 / New Media Rights / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Grow a Leadership Circle

There’s lots to be done to improve the workflow between Drumbeat projects and web maker microevents,  but one important step is to start talking now with local event organizers, understand their needs and interests, and grow the circle of talented and experienced organizers.

The idea is to build a mentoring and peer network among local event organizers so that the teams in Sao Paulo, Paris, San Diego, New York, Barcelona, and elsewhere can share ideas and help welcome new organizers like Patrick and Matt Senate. We’ll start the discussion on the Drumbeat mailing list and hopefully the archives and growing conversation can inform and inspire other folks as well as provide valuable feedback for the current teams.

Drumbeat NYC August 7, 2010 / Timothy Vollmer / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Project Tasks, Metrics, and a Website Overhaul

Other important aspects of the event strategy include a revamping of the drumbeat.org/events pages. in general, there’s a lot of neat stuff happening under the hood (see talented Paul Osman’s posts to learn about the platform’s innovation around identity and social tools).

More functionality and assets will have to be implemented before the event pages really start to shine. We’re developing user cases and will vet the feature decisions with the local event leaders. The goal is to get a page for an event up and running without much hassle and to immediately have access to various tools and templates to help get your local meet-up off the ground.

What’s more, we’re exploring ways to better integrate project pages (i.e. the Drumbeat page about Web Made Movies and its main site) not only with updates but learning & building tasks so local organizers can plug and play.  For example, there could be 1-3 Learning Tasks for popcorn.js and for more advanced users 1-3 Contributor Tasks or Design Challenges. That way, it’s fun and easy to see your progress and how it feeds into the larger projects.

The move towards participant tasks, as being tested in P2PU, could help scale community contributions by making is simple to first learn the tools and then get more involved. The number of tasks completed might lead to useful metrics about the effectiveness of events, too.

Well, there’s lots ahead! This post turned out to be quite lengthy, but a fresh one will be coming soon about the latest news on Media, Freedom, and the Web festival and elsewhere.

Drumbeat Festival Volunteers in Barcelona by ISIDOR FERNANDEZ

5 Comments on "Mozilla Events: Web, Makers, Community"

  1. Brett Gaylor says:

    Fantastic post, Michelle! I’m particularly excited how P2PU and work on Badges can provide a way for Drumbeat projects to codify their “learning tasks” and give a value proposition to participants. Its great to see these things coming together!

  2. Super excited! Looking forward to working with Mozilla on Buttercamp-in-a-box in Denver! Should be fun! Great post! Patrick IonDesigns.org

  3. Pippa says:

    I’m looking forward to hosting my first micro-event and watching the web and real-life come together. Great post Michelle, it’s lovely to be working together (online and from time-to-time, in Betahaus).

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