All posts tagged drumbeat

The Mozilla Festival: Less yak, more hack!

The Mozilla Festival, which kicks off Nov. 4 – 6 in London, will be a three-ring circus of brainstorming, collaborating and hacking. It brings together 500 journalists, open web developers and media educators to learn and make the web they want.

Following a series of posts by Mozilla’s Mark Surman, I’m inspired to jot down a few thoughts responding to his vision of a web literate planet — and how three days of massive web learning in London helps get closer to that dream.

I believe Mozilla can play a leading role in creating a web literate planet. Concretely, I think Mozilla can — and should — build out a major P2P learning initiative that teaches web skills and web literacy to coders and non-coders alike. We should also take an active role building up the whole ecosystem of orgs emerging around web literacy and innovative, web-like learning.

Compressed to 72 hours, the Mozilla Festival is a testing ground for this emerging learning model:

Take the P2P pedagogy and skill-sharing of learning labs, mix in design challenges where people invent new web tech and apps, and sprinkle in some fun and thoughtful discussions, you not only get one memorable weekend, you also iterate and improve a recipe for collaboration that can be remixed and poured anywhere, anytime.

On a meta-level, my biggest hope for the festival is that people are inspired by this open-ended learning model, and they improve upon it and host hackfests and learning labs in their own cities with communities they care about.

More than any set curriculum or agenda, I’m learning that learning is a mindset. It’s about copping an attitude and seeing everything as an open-ended process, not a product. And I see the Mozilla Festival — in both planning and participating in it — as a process. It’s part of a joyful, infinite game whose goal is to continue play and invite others to join.

[If you haven't yet, pick up a copy of Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse. This pre-internet book is the best manifesto to open culture I've ever read.]

In the lead up to the festival, I’d like to share how different people and parts of the program embody this playful, collaborative web making spirit. And I like to invite you to get involved.

The strength of a truly participatory event is that it is transformed by surprise. Its impact will be measured not by the duplication of its form, but by the originality of participants engaging in response.

What I admire about Mozilla is that it desires to inspire play and learning in others. And it knows that it does this best when it becomes least necessary for the continuation of play.

Save the Date! Mozilla Festival: Media, Freedom and the Web

Mozilla Festival — Media, Freedom and the Web London, November 4 – 6, 2011

Mark your calendar for a one-of-a-kind event, Mozilla’s Media, Freedom and the Web Festival: https://festival.mozilla.org

This year’s Mozilla Festival will gather passionate, creative people using the web to bend, hack and reinvent media. We’ll solve real problems and build prototypes with talented designers, world-class journalists, and cutting-edge developers.

Mozilla Festival in Barcelona, 2010

Last year's Mozilla Festival in Barcelona

Help spread the word:

Save the Date! Mozilla Festival on Media, Freedom and the Web. London, Nov. 4 – 6. http://mzl.la/festivaldate #mozfest

We’ll meet in London, a true media capital, for three days fueled by innovation challenges. Drive new ways of making media with design jams, hackfests, learning labs, live demos and parties.

At the Media, Freedom and the Web Festival, you’ll pull the best of modern web technology into the world of media. Collaborate with real-world journalists and daring technologists to build whatever inspired version of the media future you like. Minimum talking, maximum web making.

Sign up now for updates and to get involved; we’ll email when registration is open: https://festival.mozilla.org

Learn more: https://festival.mozilla.org Last year’s Festival: http://learningfreedomandtheweb.org/ Contact: festival [at] mozilla [dot] org

mozfest

Hope to see you there!

Some Learnings from the Knight-Mozilla Innovation Jams

There’s a lively thread on the Drumbeat list about local <> global events, started by Alina. I’ve been mulling over some thoughts following the round of Knight-Mozilla News Innovations Jams (see a great post by Dees about the UK events). Here’s a cross-posting about a few insights I’ve had:

With MoJo activities in over 15 cities, inc. four in Latin America and another five outside North America (although granted in English-speaking countries), we’re on to something. Some lessons from those jams:

  • Drive events around design challenges / shared action. This boosts collaboration and gives purpose to the event. Specific, value-add challenges work better than very general ones (i.e. we got more action around the “Beyond Comments” challenge than from the broad “People=Powered News”.
  • Articulate what makes the participant group unique. For MoJo, it was about bringing journalists, techies, and designers together to work on a specific problem set. This is also what we’re trying at the festivals, for example in Barcelona with the educators and web geeks. This gives another sense of purpose and focus.
  • Frame the local event in a broader narrative arc that goes beyond the immediate timeframe. The Knight-Mozilla jams lead up to a longer term fellowship program and global conversation, and they’re a great feeder for the forthcoming festival, which focuses on Media, Freedom, and the Web.
  • Provide assets to make it easier for organizers to plug and play. Evolve those assets when more ideas / improvements come in. We did this for the MoJo jams, for example adding the bingo icebreaker cards from Jennie in New York and slides in Spanish made by Renata in Guatemala.
  • Run an evaluation afterward. That’s in progress now for MoJo, and the results will be shared soon.

There’s much to learn and to discuss together around what types of events, themes, and processes work. Would love to hear from you all what you think about the above and from Mozilla events you’ve attended.

Knight-Mozilla News Innovation Jams Hit 15 Cities

Do you have ideas for how news and journalism can be edgier, cooler, and more interactive online?

You can qualify directly for a yearlong, paid innovation fellowship at the BBC, Guardian, ZEIT Online, Boston Globe and Al Jazeera by rising to the Knight-Mozila News Innovation Challenges (#MoJo) during a news jam in your city. You can also submit your brilliant ideas online until close of business EST on June 5.

The Jams

In 15 cities around the world, hacks (journalists) and hackers (developers) are teaming up to build prototypes that help journalists take advantage of the open web and engage with citizens in new ways. You can join, too.

The Challenges

We’re tackling three design challenges:

The Cities

Innovators from San Francisco to Buenos Aires, from Guatemala City to Chicago, are sketching ideas on napkins, sharing experiences about journalism and the web, and being rewarded with beer (or MoJoitos) and good company. Particularly exciting is a partnership  with Hacks/Hackers, a network of journalists and technologists, in several cities.

You can still join some jams in person:

Read up on the past action in:

Beyond

These innovation jams are also teeing up major projects and partnerships for the forthcoming Mozilla Festival, Media, Freedom and the Web, this fall in London. Stay tuned to learn how get involved, and visit Mozilla Journalism (@KnightMozilla) for more info on MoJo.

Jon Rogers of Product Design at the University Dundee

MoJo hacks from Guatemala City

Brainstorming in El Salvador

Knight-Mozilla News Innovation Jam by Hacks/Hackers Argentina

Hacks/Hackers jamming in Seattle

Teaming up with El Periodico in Guatemala

Mozilla Drumbeat Festival 2011: Media, Freedom and the Web

Mozilla drumbeat.png When smart people who care about media and the web gather to think and build together, magic happens.

Drumbeat Festival Science Fair 2010.The web today encompasses an array of media; books, TV, radio, news, comics, film, music, and the whole lot of ‘em have been engulfed by the technology and culture of the web. Knowledge and creative expression, shared digitally among a network of peers, is bendable and remixable to an unprecedented degree. It can yield powerful results.

Yet alongside the opportunities arise many challenges. Industries are in peril. Professions are in flux. Education can’t keep pace. Citizen rights are being ignored and trampled, and new generations of creativity and innovation are choked in the upheaval.

So with all the tugging in different directions, what do we really want the webified media landscape to look like? As a maker of media or a builder of the web, you’ve got a say in this. The web is lego. You can build whatever nifty, fun, creative, innovative version of the media future you like. Together, we can shape things for the better and mold tools to fit our principles.

Media, Freedom and the Web

Drumbeat Festival Volunteers 2010.This is exactly the point of this year’s Mozilla Drumbeat Festival: to gather smart people using the web to reinvent the media.

We’ll spend three days throwing down design jams, hackfests, writing workshops, tech teach ins, science fairs and parties that pull the best of modern web technology and technique into the world of media making.

Whether you’re a web geek who makes media or a media nerd who love the web, this is an event you shouldn’t miss.

The essentials:

  • Late October/early November in London, UK. We’re working with some great venues and will announce the exact date in the next week or so.
  • Goals. Get more media people thinking like the web. Run a three-day accelerator. Connect geeks from media organizations with the latest web tech and each other. Lend a hand and promote open tech.
  • How to get involved. Got an idea for a session? A recommendation for someone who should come? Add your suggestions to the wiki or via this form. Sign up for the Drumbeat mailing list and join the weekly community calls. We want to hear your thoughts about this vision and how to make the festival rock.

Coming soon…

This is a community-owned event. It’s run by kanban, so pull by the participants determines the intensity of the festival’s production. Our job is to field demand and offer direct channels to shape production.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out more and more stuff (release early! release often!). Program themes, session formats, budget allocations, the works. Where we see demand, where we feel participants pulling, that’s where we’ll engage the most. The less glamorous stuff will run in parallel, and you can always ping me or others from the team to learn more.

Fortunately, we’ve got a lot to build on from last year’s Learning, Freedom and the Web festival held in Barcelona, and importantly, a great number of exciting local events leading up to the festival that will feed ideas and prototypes. More on that soon, too.

So geeks, journos, media hackers, data junkies, makers, web developers—get involved! Help us shape this festival, and come to London to get your by-line on the future of media and the web.

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

Global Melt — the aftermath

It’s been a fantastic two days at Global Melt, and boy is my mind liquid. In a room filled with talented community instigators and caretakers, we hacked on tools and strategies to boost community health during events, to get things done IRL, and to most importantly enjoy what you’re doing and make a difference.

Global Melt 3 by jagataj, available under a CC Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 license.

The event kicked off with facilitation by the masterful “Don’t get me started on panels and Powerpoint” Allen Gunn. There was a post-it note mosh pit where we scoped pressing questions about how global, peer-driven communities benefit from live events (many thanks to SJ for transcribing nearly a hundred notes). We asked some tough questions, but there was one fundamental thing to tackle:

Why events?

Global Melt focused on the role of events for three reasons: 1) we’re prototyping this type of workshop, so it’s better to start with some concrete; 2) events are a microcosm of a community, so the dynamics manifested in them reflect the organization as a whole (think governance, funding, interactions among members, etc); 3) furthermore, all of the participating groups run events — some small, some large, and certainly many confronted with deep questions about purpose and impact.

With so much time and energy invested in events, isn’t it worthwhile to take some time to define why we run events in the first place?

Value proposition to participant

Often as event organizers we neglect or inadequately address the question: what does a participant get out of an event? In the trenches of logistics and operations, it sometimes feels like there’s not enough time to frame the Why. During Global Melt, we dedicated a round of discussion to defining several value propositions to participants on one hand and to the organizers on the other.

By identifying and articulating what someone gets out of an event, some issues around promotion, engagement, and the Caring Problem are resolved. So, for example, rather than saying you’re hosting a meet-up for web developers, which is very general and hard to gauge the relevance, you could invite experienced developers from news organizations to design HTML5 applications for visualizing raw data sources. Through clearer definitions of the target audience and the event’s purpose, you increase the probability of getting engaged participants who know why they’re there and what they will achieve.

Make the Hard Stuff Easy

On the first day, even before the planned tool sprint, we had our first beta release. Have you ever been to an event where you end up in a really interesting conversation with someone, exchange business cards and promise to be in touch, only to return home with a fistful of email addresses and numbers, unable to track why you’re supposed to talk with whom? Enter Sparklez, an analog interaction reminder conceived and prototyped by Asaf and others at Global Melt. It works like this: the event organizer hangs a piece of paper on the wall, aka the Sparklez interface:

Whenever participants make a connection with someone during the event and want to follow up on the conversation, they write their names on the paper with a brief note about what they want to talk about. After the event, the onus of following up with these interactions lies with the event organizer. The organizer must contact each listed person and confirm whether they have been in touch as indicated. Sparklez is a lightweight and fun way to ensure that people get the most out of networking and conversations at the event and that social ties are revisited and reaffirmed after the event is over.

Event documentation is another task that often withers on the vine because it’s tough and time-consuming. But we thought about how documenting an event could be more fun and engaging. Together with Alek and SJ, we conceptualized a Rapporteur Bounty. The game creates external incentives for attendees to document and talk about what they did and learned at an event.

For example, the organizers of the next Wikimania could offer a bounty for a Global Melt participant to speak at the conference about workshop or to send a write-up about certain sessions or topics. The bounty would vary depending on the people, the resources, etc., but you could think of fun ways to encourage groups to share outcomes and talk about what what achieved. It could also work for participants who couldn’t make it but were keen to attend. They could offer something symbolic or funny to incentivize someone to create more documentation about the event they missed.

Entertainment as an Organizing Principle

Having fun is an incredibly strong motivator. And especially when working with volunteer contributors, it’s paramount to ensure that people have a good time. But usually, entertainment is an afterthought and not strictly productive, such as a party following a workshop or an outing to Cirque du Soleil. But what about ways to leverage our drive for fun into positive contributions? Gamification is a horrible buzz word, yet the approach can be useful.

One prototype we produced plays with the concept of a totem and an evolving documentation monument. A data totem is a storage device such as a USB that is passed on from event to event. It contains curated content from the event, such as videos, photos, and summaries of sessions. The object serves both as a reminder to the recipient that they should add information and hand off the totem to the next event organizer.

For example, there are CC Salons all over the world. What if an organizer in Guatemala City copied the creative works showcased at his event and then passed on the USB to a salon organized in Warsaw? The totem evolves and takes on more information as it travels. Plus, you have increased interaction among the event organizers, since they can discuss the data on the device as well as chat about how their event went, etc. Moreover, the effort to compile a curate folder for the USB also means that it easy to copy the file and share it elsewhere.

I hope to continue working with Alek to iterate on the Global Melt Event Totem below. I’ll post the file for Global Melt soon. Who will get the totem next?

Leadership is a behavior not a person

Many participants noted that fatigue is a huge concern facing many event organizers and attendees is fatigue. There’s too much going on, too much of the same same, too much pointless blather, too many expectations and no replacements or fresh blood.

Jay offered the great insight that leadership is a behavior, not a person. That means the role of a community leader isn’t tied to a person as such but is instead a role adopted and adapted. If an organizer, for example, no longer has the capacity to do something like host a regular meet up or plan big annual event, it doesn’t mean that the project dies. Rather, by indicating that leadership is a way to act, and not the individual that fills it, there are ways to empower and inspire others to adopt leadership behavior. Are there projects that you’re involved with where leadership in this manner could be framed anew?

Relatedly, Charlie mentioned that communities are healthier when each member knows it can leave at any time. By having a clear exit, every moment someone stays is an autonomous decision to be there. This is deeply important is combating fatigue (sometimes people feel obligated to stay or that there’s no way out).

Talk about Events as Events

We all attend and many of us organizer lots of events. It’s incredibly helpful to be deliberate about why one participates at an event, and even more, to discuss this question with others. One tip for organizers is to offer a session or feedback round at an event to provide feedback but also to talk about why one holds an event in the first place, what it achieves and doesn’t, and how formats and other factors can be tweaked to reach goals.

What I also find useful, especially at an event where you’re highly involved, is to plan in the time immediately afterward to document, say thanks, and collect feedback. Even building in time during the event, while energy is high and everyone is sitting in a room, can be very effective. Or bake an extra few hours on the following day to digest and write-up meaningful summaries and thoughts. On-the-fly stuff is great, but a planned decompression can have even more impact.

There’s more!

Speaking of wrap-ups, this turned out to be quite a long summary. ^^ But, there are a few places I’d encourage you to look if you want more info. We’ve got a lot of documentation growing on the wiki, including an excellent survey of available communication and collaboration tools for events. There’s also a forthcoming list on 10 Ways to Make Your Event Not Suck, some helpful threads for an local organizer’s handbook and some event toolkits, plus some microevent formats and other ideas.

Importantly, we’d love to hear feedback and ideas to improve. And there’s a list of actionable next steps — like blog about Global Melt in your language or sign up for the discussion list to learn more.

Thanks everyone for coming. A super special thank you to Alina and Gunner, to Mark, to Alek and Joanna, and to all the participants and to studio70. Meeeeeeeeeeeelt!

Global Melt

Global Melt logo by Joanna Tarkowski, available under a CC Attribution Poland 3.0 license.

Very excited about this weekend’s inaugural Global Melt, a workshop for members and leaders of global peer-driven movements to explore what our movements have in common, share what we have learned, and discuss solutions and ideas for our respective communities.

We’ll be bringing together staff, board, and community members from organizations like Creative Commons, Wikimedia Foundation, Mozilla, as well as Global Voices, KDE, P2PU, Open Design City, CiviCRM and many more fantastic projects.

Global Melt will be the beginning of more deliberate inter-organizational collaboration, of shared action plans, and shared resources. Our immediate goal is to troubleshoot one concrete issue that is common to all participating organizations. We will conclude the workshop with a deeper understanding of running local, community-organized events that contribute to organizational goals in meaningful and sustainable ways.

Participants are looking to develop tools that makes their work more efficient, more effective, and more impacting. Rather than building resources in isolation or continually investing in event strategies from scratch, we can gain more by pooling resources and ideas.

Possible shared resources include:

  • Local planner handbook – How can we communicate best practices to better inform and inspire local organizers?
  • Event calendars – How can we coordinate calendars of events from our organizations and community members?
  • Event and agenda formats – How can we learn about other event formats and adapt them to our purposes?
  • Facilitation practices – How can we grow the network of experienced, collaborative facilitators?
  • Documentation and communication platforms – What tools and methods are effective for documenting and promoting events?
  • Contact database – How can we map and connect community members and contributors across projects?
  • Evaluation of venues, vendors, and public partners – How can we collect organizational and logistical experiences from hosting events?
  • Event funding sources or templates – How can we generate resources to help local organizers bootstrap their events?

We’ve got a very rich collection of discussion questions to kick us off. We’re also keen to collect input from people who can’t attend in person (the workshop is still open — let me know if you want to join! There’s also a party on Monday, March 28.)

A taste of the agenda topics:

  • What do you gain from inter-organizational collaboration?
  • How do you balance grassroots values with global consistency?
  • How do you make events sustainable?
  • Addressing “The Language Challenge”: Building multilingual movements.
  • Parachuting into larger events.
  • What tools do you use for contact management, calendars, communication, translation, venue information, and documentation?
You can read more on our wiki and sign up on the discussion list. This event won’t be possible without the support of Mozilla, studio70, and all the stellar participants.