All posts tagged openweb

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!

I Work For the Internet

I Work For the Internet is freshly launched campaign by Fighting For Freedom against harmful internet blacklist legislation, SOPA, making it’s way through Congress right now.

A coalition including the EFF, Mozilla, Creative Commons, Wikimedia, and many other organizations have been rallying internet users to contact Congress and expression their opposition to SOPA. Over a million emails and thousands of personal calls were sent to Congressional representatives.

With the I Work For the Internet petition, you can join thousands more in showing your support to stop this bill. Here’s an I Work For the Internets t-shirt that found it’s way there. ^^

For more info on SOPA and its threat, read up on the EFF’s excellent coverage.

In the Flesh

The new magnetism of congregation seems universal…The web becomes not a destination in itself but a route map to somewhere real.

— Simon Jenkins, Welcome to the post-digital world, an exhilarating return to civility

My Web.

When you own a domain you’re a first class citizen of the web. Adrian Short

For the last few months, I’ve been in a blogging slump. Like presumably a lot of people, the sheer number of communication channels has both overwhelmed and satisfying the urge to write and share ideas.

What’s more, for several years my hosted WordPress blog was a reliable online home. Although limited in customization, my blog more or less fulfilled its role aptly.

But recently, three things spurred me to take a step towards web sovereignty and finally secure my own domain and set up my own site, using tools I understand and control.

  • Learning
  • Sharing
  • Freedom

Learning

I’m loving my new job at Mozilla. The festival was a blast (more on that soon), and my colleagues and the community are a constant source of inspiration. The mission to “build a generation of web-makers”, using a combination of learning programs and innovative tools, has awakened my own curiosity to dig deeper and to understand how the web works.

I continue to be delighted by tools like the Hackasaurus X-Ray Goggles, which I use nearly every day to inspect code and figure out how web pages work.

Now, after spending a good few hours securing a domain, setting up hosting with Nearlyfreespeech.net (thanks, Parker, for the tip!), and scouring fora and actually doing command-line coding, I’m feeling even more eager to skill-up and take advantage of all the cool stuff out there.

Sharing

Another aspect of Mozilla I thoroughly admire is its commitment to working in the open. Every day I realize how that’s harder than it sounds. Often, one feels like there isn’t enough time to document processes and ask for input. Engaging in conversation takes time, and one only has so many hours in the day.

But this is a principle I’m keen to support, and seeing the positive examples of many of the Mozilla teams, I’m encouraged to start blogging again and to use this platform to not only work in the open, but to think and talk and share here.

A lot of good comes from thinking aloud and thinking together, and this seems like a great opportunity to rekindle that spirit. Not only for my job, but for lots of ideas and conversations that spring up.

Freedom

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I’m indebted to Peter for encouraging me to set up this new site. Like with many tasks, getting my own site up and running seemed harder than it really was. And now that it’s ready, and I’ve already learned so much along the way, I feel all the more empowered to tinker and to play with the web.

To that end, here’s a list of the tools that helped me. Perhaps they can be of motivation to you, on the road to being a first class citizen of the web.

  • Markdown: a super-simple writing syntax that you can easily export into clean HTML. This Lifehacker article serves as a great intro.
  • Markdown for WordPress plugin: This plugin converts your markdown text into HTML in WordPress. Fast and easy to use. I used to spend so much time formatting my posts; now it’s automagic.
  • WordPress: Just a big shout-out to the incredible community behind this powerful publishing platform. The famous 5-minute install took me more like 1 hour, but the documentation was incredibly helpful, and it’s worked like a charm since. (Minus managing file permissions. This post from a NearlyFreeSpeech user really helped me.)
  • Nearlyfreespeech.net: smart, inexpensive and privacy-aware web hosting.
  • P2PU & Mozilla’s School of Webcraft: friendly learning missions to get you familiar with HTML and your site up and running.
  • Domain registration with nic.com: a comprehensive if but slightly spammy domain registry. I probably should’ve used NearlyFreeSpeech for this as well, but nic.com proved to be pretty affordable and easy to use.

Image “Walled Gardens” by Mischa Tuffield in “Findings and Future Direction of the W3C Social Web Incubator Group (SWXG)”, available under CC BY 3.0

Hello world. Again.

A schweet new site. We want MOAR!

Update And here’s the RSS feed: http://michellethorne.cc/feed/ Thanks, Christopher!

Internet Studies‽

As a lover of the interwebs and someone who’s followed the research from the likes of AOIR and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society (see Tim Hwang’s great piece on the Berkman school of thought),  a recent discussion about the merits of “internet studies” is quite provoking:

Maybe we should stop talking about “information and communication technologies” or “the Internet” or “new and social media” as a single constellation of technologies that have key characteristics in common (distinctively participatory, or distinctively intrusive, for example), and that are sufficiently different from other parts of the world that they need to be talked about separately. The Internet is still pretty new, so we tend to look at it as a definable thing, but digital technologies have now become so multifaceted and so enmeshed in other facets of our lives that such a broad brush obscures more than it reveals. — Tom Slee, Blogs and Bullets: Breaking Down Social Media

And Henry Farrell’s reply:

Instead of wanting to study ‘the Internet’ or ‘Facebook’ or whatever, we should investigate the possible existence or relative strength of various posited mechanisms which causally connect certain situations with certain kinds of interesting outcomes. Most technologies will potentially bundle a number of these mechanisms together – hence, the need to try to disentangle these mechanisms as much as is possible in specific instances. Instead of asking ‘does Facebook help protests in authoritarian regimes?,’ one would ask questions such as ‘does social influence from peers make individuals more likely to participate in demonstrations?,’ ‘does widely spread information about protester deaths make individuals more or less likely to participate?,’ ‘does government-provided information make citizens less likely to participate in anti-regime protests?’ and so on.

This is a helpful lens through which we can better focus on what we mean by “the web” and why it matters.  We tried to tackle some of these definitional challenges in An Open Web, outlining key “battlefields” which describe what’s at stake in terms of mechanisms (i.e. specific user freedoms and actions, rather than just threats to “the web” as such).

The above posts are timely reminders about the tendency to speak broadly about the internet as an umbrella term for the particular mechanisms, some of which are internet-dependent while others are only augmented or manifested online. This specificity is a hard discipline to enforce—I’m often too flippant or lazy to make clear distinctions, and moreover I assume that the audience picks up on my shorthand when I talked generally about the web.

But let’s strive be more specific about the mechanisms that are truly in play. This will not only make it easier for more people to understand why the web matters, in its many facets, but also inform a more nuanced discussion about how to accelerate meaningful initiatives and demarcate the real battlefields, which are immediate and important.