ReMo Camp 2013: Recap for Webmakers

I had the privilege of participating in the annual ReMo Camp, a gathering of the ReMo Council members and Mentors, to discuss and plan the Reps program for the coming year.

Of course, no Mozilla event is complete without a singalong and dance-off, plus memorbale photo-ops made possible by our high-visibility construction vests. (A cheeky way of “increasing Reps’ visibility”).

From the two-day meeting, I learned a lot and enjoyed contributing in all sorts of sessions. I find the Reps program an inspiring example of a mixo-cratic community (a mix between democracy, i.e. the Council, and meritocracy, i.e. the mentors).

Reps is certainly one of the groups most actively furthering Mozilla’s mission in creative, resourceful and passionate ways.

The mission of Reps

At events like these, it’s clarifying to revisit shared goals. We had a great session reviewing the Reps’ mission. In it, we discussed how Reps should target two essential actions:

  • 1) support Mozillians to contribute more and better
  • 2) recruit new Mozillians

This is a succinct way to describe the Reps program. Currently, the Reps’ mission doesn’t lay out these goals so clearly, so our working group is looking forward to proposing these changes to the Council and vetting an update of the mission copy.

If the revisions goes through, it can inform a better way to set up metrics.

Right now, the program heavily measures activities like event organization. But perhaps more nuanced metrics, focusing more explicitly on supporting and recruiting Mozillians, could be developed.

Reps as Community Builders

The above mission ties back to another key message of the camp: Reps are community builders.

Not only did we get cool high-visibility construction vests to prove it, but a thread throughout the event was how Reps can enable and empower Mozilla communities better.

This is an exciting development in light of the Mozilla-wide Community Building team that’s gaining support and effectiveness as we share best practices and look to improve engagement across the project. Reps have certainly been at the heart of a lot of these pilots, in leadership roles and advisers.

Webmaker + Reps is working

A little over a year ago, we began a conversation to bring two programs, Webmaker and Reps, closer together. This originated from a remarkable level of activity and leadership from Reps in the Webmaker initiative.

Now, with months more of experience, I’ve noticed the following:

  • The partnership is working. More and more Reps care about and engage in Webmaker. More and more of Webmaker is developing in response to the activities and input from Reps. In the ReMo Camp alone, over half the Reps said that Webmaker was an initiative they are involved with the most.
  • Webmaker is a great starter activity for Reps. From newbies to seasoned Reps, the flexibility and hands-on nature of Webmaker is a great way to contribute right away, following one’s own interests and capacity. To get started, Webmaker doesn’t require any budgets, any major event planning, or even any technical expertise. All that’s needed is a desire to empower others to make the web. Which can be as simple as opening a laptop with a friend or family member and inviting them to remix a website using the X-Ray Goggles.
  • Reps are excellent allies in global engagement around Webmaking. With an impressive geographic spread, deep connections to local communities, and the dedication to seeing engagement on the ground at home, Reps have been and will be one of Webmaker’s greatest collaborators in fostering web literacy around the globe.
  • Reps bring diversity, originality and resourcefulness to the Webmaker program. From the above-mentioned geographic and linguistic diversity, to the creativity to experiment with webmaking in all sorts of ways (in indigenous languages, in orphanages and shops, with nannies and the elderly and bakers), Reps are demonstrating how webmaking can happen anywhere.
  • And perhaps most importantly, Webmaker is seeing an emerging leadership circle with prominent participation from Reps. A large number of our “Super Mentors”, aka the people who mentor Webmaker Mentors, are Reps. There are interesting parallels with Reps’ own mentoring structure. And there’s an opportunity to collaborate even more closely at the Super Mentor level to design, test and forge new plans for Reps + Webmaker.

Priorities for Reps + Webmaker

Which brings me to a quick recap from the Webmaker session at ReMo Camp. We split into two groups: a hands-on Webmaking workshop led by Emma Irwin and a roadmapping discussion led by Henrik Mitsch.

In the roadmap room, we established the following top three priorities for Reps + Webmaker:

  • Training. The Training Days we ran in Athens and the Teach the Web MOOC were successful. Let’s mash-up these two parts (offline and online training) into a blended learning program for Reps. Reps can co-create it, test it, participate in it, and run it for their communities. We should also run a Webmaker training at the Mozilla Summit.
  • Localization. With sophisticated localization shipping soon for webmaker.org, there’s a big opportunitiy to partner Webmaker + Reps to localize tools (linguistically and culturally). We can make plans and do initial translations at the Mozilla Summit.
  • Budget. This is more of a pain point than an opportunity, but currently there’s a lot of bugs for Reps requesting budget for Webmaker events. Some of this can be solved with better documentation, and we should also figure out how funding works for special events, like the Maker Party.

Hands-On Webmaking

Next door, Emma was running the hands-on webmaking. She introduced the three Webmaker tools and invited Reps to start remixing and making what interests them.

This was a very successful activity, as it introduced the tools to people who hadn’t seen them before, as well as highlighted new features for veterans, and at an even more meta-level, demonstrated how one can teach Webmaker.

Check out these fun makes:

Opportunities with the Firefox Student Ambassadors

Another opportunity is with Firefox Student Ambassadors. Led by Kate Naszradi, the newly relaunched program has over 3,000 sign-ups, the majority of which come from India, Indonesia, the Philippines and other places where there’s also very active Webmaker communities.

In particular, we should explore how the Firefox Student Ambassadors can use customized teaching kits and other hackable scripts to run Webmaker activities in their universities. For example, we could make a “Get to know Firefox” Thimble template that can be remixed locally.

This demographic is perfect for hosting small events, and with an ever-growing community base keen for fun things to do. A Webmaker + FSA collaboration has lots of promise!

The Mozilla Summit, Mozilla Festival and Beyond

We have two big events coming up in October. I think we should use the Mozilla Summit and the Mozilla Festival to further explore the above topics, and more importantly, hack on outcomes together (such as the next-generation training materials, localization, FSA partners and more).

We should also share our experience with Teach the Web and Maker Party, so that we can improve upon it and invite more people to get involved in the next iteration.

It’s clear from Remo Camp that Reps are stepping up in every way as community builders and Webmakers. There’s a huge opportunity for Reps to lead sessions and shape the Webmaker program in very meaningful ways.

Can’t wait to see what we accomplish in the coming months.

Photos thanks to Brian King and Gen Kai

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