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.

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