All posts tagged mozfest

Mozilla Festival 2013: Submit your session!

This is my fourth year organizing and curating the Mozilla Festival. Each year we hope to improve the experience, bring in more engaged participants, and serve epic coffee. Check out the announcement below and join us this year in London!

Come to the Mozilla Festival

The Mozilla Festival is the birthplace of many of Mozilla’s best and most innovative ideas. Join us for three-days of productive skill-sharing with a global braintrust of passionate thinkers and inventors.

The fourth Mozilla Festival will take place from October 25-27 at Ravensbourne, a wired media and design campus located in East London.

What is Mozfest like?

Picture hundreds of passionate people—journalists, coders, filmmakers, designers, educators, gamers from all over the world—immersed in interactive sessions designed to foster collaboration and participation.

We’ll all learn together through hands-on sessions and interactive workshops, and we’ll have dedicated time to hack the ideas that emerge when hundreds of bright minds gather together in one space.

Mozfest Themes

This year’s focus is on the mentors, catalysts and change makers who care about the using the web to make a difference in their respective fields and communities.

Individual sessions are organized under the following themes:

  • Build Webmaker Together: The web is wild. Co-design its future with hackable projects, new memes and creativity remixed with digital tools.
  • Connect Your City: Champion digital making and bring together local communities.
  • Look Who’s Watching: Learn how to control who gets your data. Help others protect their privacy and develop long-term solutions to tracking.
  • Make the Web Physical: Take sensors, actuators and more to meld the virtual with the actual and make the web work your way.
  • Open Games: Ready, Set, Go! Join a community of game makers who use the web as a platform to build open games.
  • Science and the Web: Transform how we use the web–a scientist’s invention–to explore, experiment and build on each other’s research.
  • Skills and Badges: Challenge conventional skillsharing. Recognize and verify learning in new ways to increase opportunities and make the most of the web.
  • Source Code for Journalism: Hack the news. Learn, teach, and make journalism that’s native to the open web.
  • Teach the Web: Let’s teach the world the web. Discover how to inspire learners and spread digital literacy with hands-on making.
  • Webmaking for Mobile: Become a maker in the booming world of the mobile web.

Propose a Session

You can propose your own session from now until August 31.

Come with a great concept you want to make real, and we’ll connect you with a community of fiercely unconventional technologists and creators eager to share their skills and knowledge to spotlight your work and to nurture your ideas.


Last year’s festival sold out so register as soon as you can to reserve a space.

Mozfest is a chance to hone your skills and amplify your voice around our common mission: ensuring the web is an innovation open to all.

Who’s coming?

Here are some of the organizations we expect to join us:

TinkerCad, Kickstarter,, Goldsmiths, Chicago Tribune, CERN, Scratch, NPR, Codebender, Decoded, DigitalMe, MakeyMakey, Meemoo, Makie Lab, Mindcandy, Internet Archive, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Zeega, Craftyy, Eyebeam, LibreGraphic Magazine, The Web Foundation, National Writing Project, Sourcefabric, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, BBC, ProPublica, La Nacion, Knight Foundation, Blender, SoundCloud, Ushahidi, Open Knowledge Foundation, New York Times, Internews, Creative Commons, P2PU, Shuttleworth Foundation, Hacks/Hackers, Global Voices, MacArthur Foundation, Institute of Play, WYNC Radio, Tribeca Film Institute, Intel Labs, MIT Media Lab, MIT Center for Civic Media, Young Rewired State, Tate Collective, London Zoo, Web FWD, and more.

Did we mention you should register? ^_^

Mozfest 2012: The Aftermath Report


The Mozilla Festival (#mozfest) is an annual read/write event for anyone interested in learning about – and making – the future of the web.

It is an unique platform for bringing together key contributors to discuss, hack on and teach the open web using Mozilla tools and beyond. The goal is to celebrate the Webmaker community and jumpstart initiatives for the coming year.

The Mozilla Festival program is designed to reflect the values of Mozilla. Participants hack and learn in small, decentralized groups. Sessions focus on solving real problems and teaching applicable skills. The schedule is always evolving in response to participants’ interests. Everything is hands-on, hackable, and collaborative.

“The most inclusive, constructive geek event ever!”
Tony Parkin, former head of ICT development at the Specialist Schools & Academies Trust

Why It Matters

1. Make things with the tools Mozilla and others are creating. With 22 sessions dedicated to Mozilla tools, the Webmaker suite was introduced to and built-upon by Mozfest participants. Importantly, this year we introduced the “Webmaker Bar”, a dedicated playtesting zone for sharing our tools, inviting feedback and encouraging people to make new projects and features. Furthermore, we successfully explored how our tools can mash with others, such as the “Scratch Meets Thimble” prototype built by the MIT Media Lab.

2. Learn who is building what, how we can share and help each other. 187 facilitators shared their knowledge and toolsets in the sessions they ran. Coordination calls and a “facilitator bootcamp” before the festival improved session quality and also an understanding of what people are building and how we might work together. Also, the opening Science Fair exhibited 35 projects we curated for their notable contributions to making, freedom and the web. Promising collaborations await with organizations such as the MIT Media Lab, the National Writing Project, CERN, Internet Archive, Craftyy, GoCodery, and many more.

3. Design the things we want to build next, especially for mobile. Mozfest concluded with a demo party of over 30 prototypes hacked over the weekend. We made progress on two new verticals: mobile and games, and tested another key feature: Thimble with Javascript. For example, the games track helped the Game On Competition find local champions and jury members and produced a buzz around hackable games.

4. Fuel leaders who want to invent, teach and organize. The Hacktivate Learning track at Mozfest focused on fostering future leaders and co-designing teaching resources. Planning sessions were held with community members to design next year’s Summer Cody Party and the growth of the global Hive network.

5. Move the needle in the UK’s conversation about web literacy. Out of 295 press hits, 35 were strongly favorable articles (in comparison to 11 in 2011). 23 of the total hits were from the UK. We specifically set out to highlight our work in the UK and opportunities there, including announcing our web literacy campaign with NESTA, Nominet Trust and Telefonica. Hive London received a boost through further networking and a growing number of interested institutions, such as the Tate Collective, who also ran activities at Mozfest.

“[My professor] insisted that I attend the Mozilla Festival in London. This was probably the best advice I have ever received in my time at University & will likely impact my future greatly.”
Finlay Craig, design student from Scotland


The motto was “Making, Freedom and the Web”. We curated 9 thematic tracks over 9 floors at Ravensbourne, a wired media and design college in London.

“Building Webmaker Together” not pictured.

Floor Plan

“By the end of my first session, I was sold on MozFest’s participation approach and not nearly as nervous about my ability to contribute.”
Ryan Graff, Knight News Innovation Lab

What we made

Each theme was curated by at least one Mozilla employee (“space wrangler”) to tie organizational objectives to session outcomes. Some themes had very specific goals (i.e. user-test Webmaker tools and build new learning projects with them), while others were more exploratory (i.e. paper prototype early-stage mobile webmaking experiences). The space wranglers were very effective and key to the success of the overall event.

The best prototypes were demoed at a closing party.

Fuller documentation is available for each session, including more prototypes and code.

What we launched

The Mozilla Festival is an opportune moment to present strategic partnerships and launch milestone software. Videos.

This year we announced:

  • Popcorn Maker 1.0
  • Webmaker Badges
  • OpenNews 2013 Fellows
  • First steps in Hackable Games
  • Web literacy partnership in the UK

“Ultimately, I think [Mozfest] is about turning the people who have this year been the observers and learners into next year’s teachers and makers.”
Joe Dytrych, CodeCards inventor

Who came

Participants at the Mozilla Festival hailed from over 48 countries. 52% of the participants came from the UK. 21% of the participants were 18 and under.

They represented a range of industries: education, gaming, journalism, filmmaking, technology, design, and more.

Content partners included: Nesta, Nominet Trust, MIT Media Lab, Telefonica, Knight Foundation, Sloan Foundation, Internet Archive, US Department of Energy, The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, La Nacion, New York Times, Boston Globe, BBC, Spiegel, ZEIT Online, NPR, WNYC,, Goldsmiths University, Dundee University, Ravensbourne College, Imperial College, CDOT, Google, BlackGirlsCode, Mozilla Reps, WebFWD, Creative Commons, P2PU, Shuttleworth Foundation, CERN, National Writing Project, Hive NYC and Hive Chicago, CodeClub, GoCodery, Decoded, TinkerCAD, LA Makerspace, Open Knowledge Foundation, Craftyy, Mind Candy, Eyebeam, Tate, London Zoo, Web Foundation, Zeega.

How it worked

1. The Program

  • Science Fair: an evening opening party with drinks and demos. Participants get to know one another and play with demos of 30+ interesting projects around this year’s theme.
  • Opening Circle: the first plenary of the festival where all the participants gather for welcoming remarks and orientation about the event.
  • Sessions: participants break into 25+ concurrent sessions across the building. Sessions are based on three formats: i. Fireside Chat – a round-table conversation for 1hr; ii. Learning Lab – a skill-based workshop for 1hr; and iii. Design Challenge – a mini hackathon for 3hr.
  • Evening Keynotes: participants meet back in plenary for inspirational talks, announcements, and demos of what’s been made so far.
  • Party: a fun way to wind down and meet more people.
  • Second Opening Circle: Reconvene the next morning in plenary for a short pep talk and preview of the day.
  • Sessions: Continued program. Focus is put on shipping a demo for the evening.
  • Closing Demo Party: Returning to the Science Fair format, participants meet again for drinks and demos, this time showcasing what was made during the festival. Ends the event with acknowledgements and celebration.

2. The Facilitators

Sessions are curated through i. an open submission process and ii. strategic planning with staff and partners. This year there were 120+ submissions through the open process. Notable drivers of submissions were: the Summer Code Party, program like OpenNews, MozPubs (community meet-ups in the London office), and new themes that caught people’s interest (hackable games, mobile webmaking, coding for teens and making the web physical).

Facilitators of these sessions prepared a lot with the festival team. Over 80 individual conversations were held in preparation for Mozfest, discussing the facilitators’ goals, interests and agendas. These calls certainly led to improved readiness, higher quality sessions and better relationships to Mozilla and other facilitators.

Equally important is the half-day “facilitator “boot camp” held on-site before the festival. This year over 130 facilitators attended the boot camp – our highest number yet.

The Space Wranglers, as mentioned earlier, curated each of the festival themes. They were Mozilla staff members who could tie organizational objectives to session outcomes, and they were also instrumental in the success of individual sessions and the larger festival narrative.

3. The Team

The core team:

  • Michelle Thorne — Festival Lead
  • Allen “Gunner” Gunn — Participation Architect and MC
  • Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino — Local Producer
  • Diana Proca — Volunteer Coordinator
  • William Duyck — Mozilla Reps Coordinator
  • John Bevan — Learning Partnership Lead
  • Tim Hwang — Keynote Curator
  • Matt Thompson — Storyteller
  • Barbara Hueppe — Press
  • Geoffrey MacDougall — Partnerships

A huge advantage to this year’s was working with a veteran team. Nearly all the core team members were involved in 2011, and learned how to work well together and how the festival ticks.

Volunteers also play a critical role on-site. We organized two volunteer briefings prior to Mozfest and recruited not only from the Mozilla community, but also local students studying event management, which worked out very well.

On-site we also benefited greatly from:

  • Info Desk Coordinator, Aspiration Tech’s Jessica Steimer
  • Registration Coordinator, Mari Moreshead
  • Stage Manager, Ben Simon (next year we should assign this role much earlier)
  • Community Storytelling team, led by Matt Thompson and Rebeccah Mullen

4. The Space

The event is hosted at Ravenbourne, a wired media and design college near the O2 in East London. Ravensbourne is a very fitting setting for Mozfest, both as an academic institution and as a collaborative space.

We partnered with the web media department to complete three levels of student projects: i. web magazine about Mozfest themes using WordPress; ii. coverage about Mozfest using web video; and iii. hackable learning games.

The space itself spans 9 floors, all laid out for real-time configuration. Almost all furniture is on wheels, so rooms are easy to adjust depending on the session and activity. There are open atria with a lot of daylight and nooks for conversations and hacking.

This year we also got clearance to allow children of any age in the building. Nevertheless, children under 15 had to be accompanied by a guardian, which limited some registrations and movement in the building. Our ”’day care services”’ were welcomed, although under utilized due to lack of advertising them.

“It was as if one of our finest school architects had thought, ‘I have a great idea for a festival venue which we could use as a school between festivals.’”
Tony Parkin, former head of ICT development at the Specialist Schools & Academies Trust

5. The Tech

The technology at Ravensbourne is state-of-the-art and the staff has been a great ally of the event.

The Mozfest website was simple but effective. The website used a customized them of WordPress, which worked well for the team to edit. However, we’ve push its features to the limit, especially regarding importing session data. Next year we should investigate whether WordPress fully meets our needs or whether we need to rethink the data import.

The schedule and documentation ran on Lanyrd. It’s the first time we’ve used it at this scale, and in general, it seems to have worked okay. Lots of assets have been added to Lanyrd pages and the microformats make for easy data clean-up.

During the festival, people seemed to navigate the Lanyrd schedule adequately, but two things to improve: i. set up an automatic refreshes of the schedule page rather than doing it manually and ii. improve the process for hacking the schedule. While several participants proposed new sessions and otherwise edited the schedule, the process for doing so was not clearly communicated nor supported fully on the scheduling site.

Next Year: Recommendations

All in all, the energy and feedback from the event indicates that it was a success. Of course there are many adjustments to make, but wrapping up our third festival, it feels like we’re hitting a stride.

It will be interesting to explore how the model evolves in the coming year. Some recommendations:

1. Release cycles. Many releases and announcements were tied to the Mozfest milestone (i.e. Popcorn Maker 1.0, Webmaker badges in Thimble, etc.). In the lead-up to Mozfest, there a lot of pressure on the staff to finish their releases. One way to mitigate the stress and fatigue would be to release further in advance of Mozfest. We should still announce major offerings at Mozfest, as it’s a great publicity platform, but the additional time buffer between release and event would allow for more testing and calmer nerves.

2. Length. It should also be discussed whether 2.5 days is the right amount of time for Mozfest. It’s worked well so far, but numerous participants said they wished they had had more time. Other agendas could be considered to lengthen the event, which might lead to closer connections among participants and more prototypes.

3. Logistics. The current festival team handled 1000 participants this year, but if our intention is to grow the size of Mozfest, we must look into new ways of running event logistics. We’ll have to beef up the festival team to manage more people and all that goes with it: venue, travel, catering, setup, AV support, and more.

4. Regional activities. As the global Webmaker community grows, it’s increasingly costly to bring all of our key contributors to one place. Also, focusing on one city means missing opportunities in others. A possible avenue to explore is to continue hosting the large Mozfest in London in 2013 but explore smaller Mini Mozfests in other regions. These would be smaller in size and budget, and if timed before Mozfest 2013, they can work as feeder events for local talent to bring to London. Particularly we can tie these into the Summer Code Party.

5. Community space wranglers. Another way to boost local talent is to scout for and foster community space wranglers. In a similar way that space wranglers at Mozfest 2012 curated tracks, we should explicitly support local leaders to not only run sessions but curate a range of activities. After a few rounds of input and local testing, these community space wranglers could bring their teams to Mozfest 2013 for an even bigger impact and a global celebration.


Mozilla Festival 2012: Making, Freedom and the Web

Thrilled to again lead the Mozilla Festival, and a yearly celebration of learning and innovation for and with the web. The event will take place in London, November 9 -11.

We want everyone to tap the full creative power of the web. The Mozilla Festival is a magnet for people interested in learning about — and playing with — the web’s future.” –Mark Surman, Executive Director, Mozilla

Coders, designers, journalists and educators will join with filmmakers, gamers, makers and youth from more than 40 different countries. Together they’ll participate in a series of design challenges, learning labs and fireside chats spread across four floors of the Ravensbourne design and media campus in East London.

Unlike traditional conferences, the Mozilla Festival is on hands-on making and collaboration. It’s “more hack, less yack.” You won’t see slides or sages on the stage. Instead, it’s a big, bustling tent for everyone who shares Mozilla’s vision for a more open, web literate world.

Technology is at the point where learners don’t just use the tools, but make the tools. This happens at places like the Mozilla Festival, where geeks and practitioners get together.” Joi Ito, Mozilla Foundation Board Member, Director of MIT Media Lab

This year’s key themes:

Get involved

Re-posting an article by Matt Thompson.

The Mozilla Event Menu: Early, Early Draft

As mentioned earlier, this year we’re all about kitting out web makers around the globe to build and learn about the web in formats that are fun, sane, and effective.

So in particular, as an event model for the coming year takes shape, participants and potential participants like yourself, can hold this model to the test and help determine:

Are these events worth my time? Do they help me achieve or learn something I want?

Event Menu

With that in mind, I’d like to share the first unfiltered draft of an “event menu” for the Mozilla Foundation.

The goal is to provide an overview of event formats, with bite-sized descriptions and value propositions to participants. Many of these formats can be combined; many of them already offer abundant materials and case studies. For the remainder, there is work to be done to improve and support the format.

and in PDF. (HTML version coming soon)

Get Involved

Smart people like Dan Sinker, Brett Gaylor, Jess Klein, Ben Moskowitz, and Chris Lawrence & the Hive team, are leading the way to shape web-making activities for Mozilla that are compelling and valuable. Together we will continue hacking on this event menu and additional materials to improve these activities and make them more accessible to communities around the world.

If you are interested, you can certainly make help make an impact — as a beta-tester, as an event participant, an organizer, a facilitator, or a critic — many skills are needed to create a web literate planet.


Inspiration for the event menu comes from a variety of sources and experiences, including:

  • The Hackasaurus Hacktivity Kit, a colorful guide bursting with lesson plans, IT checklists, and lots of helpful advice for hosting your own hack jam and using Hackasaurus’ simple tools to explore and remix the web. Jess Klein and Atul Varma have been testing and building the kit, which launched in beta in November.
  • Virtual events, such as Fireside Chats (like the one held in December by the Hive Learning Network NYC) and the weekly Web Maker Calls. Virtual events are easy to organize, cost-effective, and transcend geography. Increasingly, I see them as efficient ways to scale meet-ups without breaking the bank or much logistic hassle.
  • Tried and true formats, like the Mozilla Science Fair and Pop-Up Experience. These event-types have been deployed in a number of places and allow for quick yet compelling curation. They fit easily into larger events, and they can be mixed & matched to address participant interests and availability.
  • Value, value, value. The biggest lesson learned from Gunner, event facilitator nonpareil, is that an event must always deliver value to its participants. What is it that a participant aspires to achieve? How are they getting value out of the experience? What is the motivation and return for investing precious time and energy?

Slowly, the value proposition is beginning to emerge in the Mozilla Foundation event model. Yet it is in constant need of evaluation and revision. Value is a guiding principle; it is a question one must ask at every step. Your thoughts are very welcome and very needed!

Mozilla Festival: What Next

At the Mozilla Festival, an incredible group of 700 journalists, coders, designers, and educators made over 20 prototypes, learned about media & the web together, drank buzzing coffee, played geek ping pong, and so much more.

How can we keep up the momentum? How can we continue making & learning together?

What’s Next?

The simplest way is to:

Join our web maker community calls every Tuesday:

Tuesdays at 4pm GMT (5pm CET / 11am Eastern / 8am Pacific) Conferencing Number: + 1 800-503-2899 7-Digit Access Code: 5435555

We’re also experimenting with virtual fireside chats and learning labs to make it easy and accessible to keep up the conversation. If you want to see a topic covered, or would like to host a chat, please let us know.

Hacktivity Kits

We’re looking to develop, test, and improve “Hacktivity Kits” so that people can join in ways that help them build and learn about the web together.

The Hackasaurus team, led by talented Jess Klein & Atul Varma, is paving the way with their Hacktivity Kit. It includes lesson plans, IT checklists, and lots of helpful advice for hosting your own hack jam and using their webmaking tools online.

The Hackasaurus kit will continue to evolve, and we plan to adapt its fun, user-friendly format to activities around Popcorn, Knight-Mozilla, and the Hive Learning Network. That way, more people can join in ways that help them build and learn about the web together.

Beta Testers?

We’re looking to develop, test, and improve more Hacktivity Kits.

If you’re interested in hacking on these kits, please get in touch (michelle at mozillafoundation . org). You can host an event yourself to test them, or just give feedback about what you’d like to see included or improved.

We’re learning as well and are eager to collaborate with you to make the most of this opportunity and growing community of practice!