Tag Archives: mozilla

Space wrangler for the global connected village at #mozfest

Mozfest 2015

I got hoodwinked into spacewrangling at Mozfest again. Not quite sure how it happened again, theres a unwritten rule that unless you flat out reject the invite, you will be involved again

. That and Michelle and Sarah can be very percussive with their super bright smiles. Of course its not just them, you have the Mozilla community (almost family) which are such lovely people you can’t say no.

The festival really starts way before in Spring. For the BBC R&D team (myself and Jasmine) this was the Moztreat in Scotland with our fellow space wrangler Jon Rogers. It was soon afterwards we joined the weekly calls and developed the connected library idea further.

Mozfest Global Village

Like most things in Mozfest, its never quite solid till it actually happens. Meaning the concept of the connected library became part of the Home of the future. This then became part of the global village concept. To be fair I had already set my sights on a much bigger concept of the home of the future. A connected home with spaces which are connected virtually, to explore the concept of home from home and the population increase we are due facing. Homes too expensive that families share them and make use of them in different ways. We didn’t quite get there but next year I’m certainly thinking about it (yes I’m already thinking about next year).

So while the focus was on the library and public and private spaces, I picked out sessions which fit with the humanity theme. For me humanity included inclusion, diversity, storytelling and expression through media. This was boiled down to the line up you can see on the public Github.

Global Village at Mozfest

One of the big challenges with organising such a festival in the open way Mozilla do is to coordinate everybody together and give them the tools they need to get things done. In the past this has been done through a combination of etherpads, google docs and a lot of emails. This time however some smart person thought about using the Github issue tracker? It worked incredible well with all the public calls appearing here. We were then each invited to the repo and could add labels (pathways) or a milestone (spaces). It all worked incredibly well and I’ll consider it for future applications. I did make a joke about forking it to create my own festival one day.

With all the work around the schedule and speakers done by myself, Jasmine took charge of the actual space. Sarah connected us with a number of people including a very talented set designer called Jess. They came up with the concept of cardboard, which involved lots (500 in total) cardboard boxes about 40cms cubes. It all came back to the idea we had originally when we bought a Ikea unit and decided the cube spaces were deep enough for books, picture frames, anything we were planning to do with them.

One of the key ideas was to have actual books alongside generated books. Yes we were planning to print books out in real time. A kind of print on demand service with books showing their status of buffering as they are being printed. Looking back it was ambitious but we did manage to print a few books by Sunday afternoon.

Global Village at Mozfest

The non-generated books were ordered in via a very helpful Ravensbourne librarian called Sarah. She was great and got us as many of the books as possible. For Ravensbourne they would be good for the students to have recommended resources from experts in the industry. Not only that, they would some reasoning why and who recommended it. The list would make a really good resource for the future.

Nicky asked if the complete list would be made public in the future. Fear not… Its all in Google Spreadsheets here.

During the process of putting together the global village it became clear this was going to be one heck of a project and the only way it was achievable was by collaboration. Now collaboration has overhead and especially when working with people you haven’t ever met or can’t get in a room together.

Global Village at Mozfest

We seeked collaborators to create different parts of the global village. After much back and forth we had 4 distinct spaces.

  1. The Library by BBC R&D
  2. The Garage by Dundee Uni and Mozilla
  3. The Garden by the MET office and the Unbox Festival
  4. The Kitchen by Designswam

Each space adopted the theme of cardboard, building out their spaces from the cardboard boxes. It was quite an amazing thing as you can see. Many people said some great things about the whole of the 6th floor where they all existed together. The cardboard was great because it also helped isolate the noise a bit. They also made interesting barriers between session spaces and great stands for various things.

Global Village at Mozfest

Everything from a kitchen table only complete with Alex’s table cloth to a make shift hacked together garden shed. The highlight of the cardboard was the circuital columns designed by Jess which were quite amazing. And just when you thought that was great, you walk into the garden and find the banyan tree. Elegantly put together by the Unboxed festival organisers from India. It was pretty stunning and the space it created within its branches was like nothing you can imagine. I wanted to move the eye contact experiment to that space but it was already being used for something else.

Global Village at Mozfest

Honestly I was impressed (it takes a lot to impress me, many friends will tell you) with all the spaces in the global village. Last year the ethical dilemma cafe up the game and this year we broke through and created something which everybody was talking about. We may not win any design awards for it but it worked so well.

Mozfest this year ran very smoothly, partly because we had most of Friday to setup, unlike previously when we had to rush to do everything on Friday night during the science festival or straight afterwards. This usually leads to very early setup and rushing around on Saturday morning, but this time we knew what space we had on Thursday and Friday we could setup the library and think about the other spaces.

Global Village at Mozfest

During the planning stages of the global village, I had considered workshops, hacks and exhibits. Exhibits would be things which people would interact with independently of a session,  A hack would start as a  workshop and then disappear into the garage for further development. We had a few exhibits of our own including ambient media, our book printing, a cardboard dollhouse, a augmented telescope, digital me, etc, etc. The whole space felt like there was energy and something to see and do. My only regret is not having a little more space for free roaming.

Global Village at Mozfest

The sessions are big part of Mozfest and this year rather than the long running sessions, this time Mozilla suggested a hour long session time. This was good because it meant everybody moved around and settled at roughly the same time. It also made scheduling sessions a little easier but it would have been easier to do if people had known in advance when planning their workshop. For example a few of the workshops, had planned for 3 hours and this was still possible but would break things quite a bit.

Generally everything went into a brand new app created by Ryan at Mozilla. It had been used at one or two other conferences but nothing like Mozfest. It was good and in the usual Mozilla way worked on the open web with some very smart clientside caching for access when the wifi drops out, which I have to say didn’t happen from what I could tell. It got slow sometimes but generally it was good when I needed it.

I didn’t go to enough workshops once again, heck I just caught the end of some of the keynotes.

Mozfest 2015

I was around in the building adaptive storytelling with Lancaster University, who had built a second Perceptive Radio for BBCRD. This time the radio was built as a platform for perceptive narratives. The workshop included a quick demo of the radio in action and then a class getting people to make new perceptive narrative by combining dice. I tried to connect up Brian Chirls with Lancaster Uni but it didn’t quite happen, which is a shame.

Mozfest Global Village

One of my favourite sessions or even pathways (a few joined sessions in a sequence) was around humanity in the form of talking about things which are usually brushed under the carpet. Mental health and happiness in the digital era were discussed in the libraries back room space. A space deliberately tucked away from the glaze of the general public walking around the library space. On reflection this also made the space quite tricky to find and I had a number of people looking around confused trying to work out where it actually was. We had planned to make a map but it didn’t quite happen unfortunately. The Ravensbourne floor plan didn’t really help either, as the space was divided up between the kitchen and the libraries back room by cardboard boxes and a portable screen.

Eye contact at Mozfest Global Village

However once you were in the space it did feel like you stepped out of the festival a little. Nothing like sitting under the banyan tree, which was positively zen liike but a little different regardless.

Global Village at Mozfest

The Banyan Tree was setup by Unboxed festival as part of the garden. It was great but I have to say the MET Office also did great job turning making the garden complete with garden shed.

Mozfest Global Village

Another pathway/theme we had in the library spaces was around diversity. We had a number of talks covering diversity in new and interesting ways. We had a number of talks from diversity in the new economy, hiphop, hypertext and hackerspaces to a zombie apocalypse.

Global Village at Mozfest

There was a micro theme around neurodiversity as the zombie apocalypse workshop was created by somebody with autism, she took part and the feedback was amazingly positive. The hope is to make it a workshop for future BBC diversity training.

Mozfest Global Village

Dyslexia also got a workshop and spawn another ad-hoc session on Sunday afternoon also in the library. Some of us felt the term assistive technology was slightly patronising. Assistive technology should be seamless, not call attention to its self and the user plus just be useful. A artist from the Tate took part and we talked about future plans of theirs to do more around diversity in 2016.

I have to give it up for the excellent agenda and space put together by Alexandra DS from Designswam. The agenda was spot on and so well thought-out. Everything in the kitchen was around the future of the kitchen by looking at gender roles, food production and consumption.

Mozfest Global Village

She tempted people into the area with fresh/local food and some incredibly good workshops given by some great guests. I mean a carbon zero lunch with local cheeses and fruits with a discussion about the nature of carbon zero food, who could resist this?

Mozfest Global Village

Outside the Library, the #HomelabKitchen was the place I spend most of my time. The Garden was on the other side and the Garage was beyond the Kitchen. In the  Garage the BBC Microbit table football was extremely popular and it was great to see people really interested and engaged with the possibilities. Spencer did a fantastic job telling people about the BBC micorbit and what he had done so far with it.

Mozfest Global Village

I didn’t get around to many of the other areas on the other 8 floors! Which was a shame but I did drop in on a few while walking around looking for people and seeking food I could eat.

Mozfest 2015

Unlike previous years, I didn’t get to dj at all, instead there were two options on the table on Saturday evening. One being a quiet night at a hotel bar and the other being a night at Namco station near Waterloo.  They were pretty good options and I think better suited the Mozfest audience. 1700 people would agree and I can’t wait to take the homelab concept to the next level.

Over all Mozfest has grown from strength to strength. Mozilla really shifted into another gear and made Mozfest a unmissable festival.

Global Village at Mozfest

There are so many thank-you’s I would love to say but I fear I will miss somebody. Michelle, Jon, Jasmine, Sarah, Claire, Jess, Mike, Alexandra, Maxine, Misty, Rhianne, Leanne, Mia,, Spencer and Marc all stick out in my mind. But there are so many more including the Salford media students, everybody who did a workshop and session in the global village, lots of the other spacewranglers, etc, etc…

It was a blast, with plenty of opportunities to follow up on.

Sarah always said it was going to be a home run, and it really was…

The global connected village at Mozfest

Mozfest 2014

In two weeks time (November 7-8th) I’ll be spacewrangling once again in for Mozfest 2015.

Sometimes I think I must be crazy but its always amazing how everything comes together on the weekend. You are literately fielding the water with your hands into channels, but far down the river, it all collects into a massive lake of tranquillity and calm.

This year, we are not just running an area, like last year. Oh no that was too easy (I of course joke) nope this year its the global (connected) village which is about 5-6 connected spaces.

What is the Global Village? A collection of self-contained but interconnected places from around the world where participants at Mozfest meet, learn and tinker with tomorrow’s places. The Global Village cultivates leading practitioners to build, teach and advocate for an Internet of things that empowers its users.

Turn off your screen. Close your book. End that meeting. Pick up a sketchpad, a pair of scissors, a hot-glue gun, some parcel tape and come cry “If We Build It They Will Come.” This is a springboard for tomorrow and welcoming place for those inclusive citizens and communities.

The spaces each take a part of the home (note I say home not house) and are then run by friends of  For example our big space which connects to all the others is a library (or even study if you restrict it down to a house). Each unique space will explore the future of that space and challenge the typical notions which make up the future home. The spaces will be littered with provocations and there will be themes around narrative, diversity, inclusion, connection,  wellness and humanity.

If you don’t have a ticket for Mozfest 2015 yet, its time to get one before they sell out.

Firefox OS on a new phone

Firefox OS upgrade

One of the big things which came out of the Mozilla Festival was the brand new Firefox phone, the flame… I heard about it but to own a version was frankly kind of exciting. I believe they gave out about 500 to the people who attended the festival. You also had to be there early on Sunday morning if you wanted one.

Unlike the previous version which was made by Geekphone and was technically a developer edition, this one was closer to 4.75 inches. The build quality had also been upped from the previous one.  When in my pocket, it feels very much like my Nexus 5 but a little less polished. A little frustrating to move the power button to the top instead of the right hand side to match the Nexus 5.

Firefox phones

When you open up the phones back cover (because you can do that, the novelty!) you find not only a micro SD card slot but also 2 sim slots! 2 Sims in Europe, what on earth? How great is that? I can finally buy a crappy sim from another country and still use my number for everything else. I currently have my work sim and a spare pay as you go sim in place. Another thing which surprised me about the phone also was the NFC support. Now that was something I was not expecting at all. Haven’t tested to see if the Bluetooth is 4.0 LE (looks like it maybe 3.0) or not but everything else looks good. It feels like last years chipset, not quite but comparable to my HTC 1X.

Enough about the hardware how does it work? Well I have to say its not bad. Compared to the previous one, its far more quicker and snappy. Its was pretty much what you experienced on the previous phone but quicker and more responsive. I say it was… because recently I got an upgrade pushed through to the next version of Firefox OS. Now its zippy and looks quite a bit different from what Android, iOS and Windows phone are doing.

Firefox OS upgrade

Now the icons are very big and super colourful. To be honest although Iike it, I would reduce the size if it was my only phone. People like Aral will hate the setup process because there are some gotcha’s which still disappoint, but as a whole Mozilla have listened to the critical feedback and tried to improve the user experience a lot.

The biggest problem I find with Firefox OS is the lack of apps. Its frustrating as it should make grabbing parts of websites or services easy (or maybe I’m missing something).  Don’t get me wrong the marketplace has much more that it use to have but its no where near even the Microsoft app store.

That is the one thing holding back Firefox OS. I do believe the web as a platform for development is a good one but the APIs are not there yet. For example I looked at the Web NFC API spec and found this. I’d love to write something to take advantage of it but its still not there for serious use.

I did notice that some of the things like Ubuntu unity webapp stuff does seem to work with the phone too. So I assume it got supported by the W3C? This brings me a bit of joy, because I can write simple stuff which will have utility across Ubuntu and Firefox phone. My hope is since I have Firefox installed on my Android, some of those features will also happen on Android.

As a whole, I like the Firefox phone, it reminds me how important it is to be free of the clutches of the big 5 stacks who hoover up data for their own means and lock you in forever. Firefox OS can be pretty much run like a feature phone if required but there is the ability to sync and have accounts if you so wish. If the flame really is meant to be a 100 dollar phone, its not value for money. I would happily have paid about that for it, as a 2nd phone. Looking forward to the next update… Good work Mozilla.

Not long to propose a workshop for #Mozfest’s things on the web


This space could be yours!

Last month I talked about what we’re doing for Mozilla Fest 2014. Some people have mentioned how vague the whole call for participation thing sounds.

Its deliberately vague because we don’t want to be restrictive as this is a new area we’re exploring.

If somebody had to tie me down, I would describe like this…

Taking a humanistic and ethical approach to the new experiences and tension points of 6 billion people and 2^128 things on an open web.

There are massive challenges and drives to give access to everyone of the current 6 billion humans. But there equally a massive challenge for the 2 to the power of 128 potential things to also sit on the same web. Its not good enough to just sit on the web, they need to act and behave in ethical and humanistic  ways.

Its not really fair to just create things which talk to the web and not consider its place in the grand ecosystem of the web. It would be like unleashing a new parasite into our oceans, without consideration about whats it role, is it going to kill everything else off, feast on coral reef, increase the number of jelly fish in the ocean?

Yes its just a ardunio and some loose code but where does it fit? Whats its role? Whats its ethics?

When we built the Perceptive Radio, we thought long and hard about this and decided it was just the tip of something far bigger. The balance between what things can do in the real world crossed with what they can do online really is almost like magic. Magic which can and will be easily abused. For example can you imagine the incredible things we could do if there was a wifi sniffer on board. Can you imagine the incredible experiences we could create and the terrifying experiences others with far less ethics or concern could do without your consent.

Theres been a little news following Facebook messenger permissions and some people talking about the actual permission systems of Android vs iOS. This is a scratch of the surface again…

As somebody said to me, yeah yeah so what this has been a long running problem for 20 years! Yes I know but things we carry around with us, plus the reliance on the network and these things strikes myself as something Jonathan Zittrain was talking about over 10 years ago.Back to Mozilla Festival – Its not all about being negative, honestly! We want to get away from..

Hey cool man, here’s my 3D printed thing I created…

Oh right, where does that fit in the world? Have you thought about where?

How does this forward human potential? How does it empower somebody? Myself, Jon and Jasmine feel it should empower and if it doesn’t, why does it exist? Maybe to enslave?

We’re pass the stage of novelty, lets think about how these things exist and work along side us.

Agree or disagree, we want to hear it…

Sign up to do a workshop, session or special performance in our cafe/bar we’re planning for Mozfest. And to be clear it doesn’t matter where you live in the world, if its that good, Mozila will find a way to get you over to London on the weekend of the 24-26th October. Not sure how to get started… go to the live coaching or just get in touch to ask more questions… You got till the Friday 22nd August…

Eich steps down from Mozilla


Most of us asked for Brendan Eich to step down and today he finally did

Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.

Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

This has been a long running battle with people from different sides weighing in… But frankly if the Director General of the BBC, not only felt this way but actively tried to stop Gay people getting married. I would end up leaving. Some views are so too out of step with modern reality. He may be great at everything else he does but this for me is a breaker.

Equality isn’t something we should be wishing for, we should be actively be seeking.

I know Mozilla will bounce back from this and find a better CEO who is modern in thinking and values. Looking forward to going to Mozfest again now.

OkCupid protest for equal marrage rights…

Okcupid protest for equal gay rights

Good on OkCupid! Text reads…

Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience.

Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.

Politics is normally not the business of a website, and we all know there’s a lot more wrong with the world than misguided CEOs. So you might wonder why we’re asserting ourselves today. This is why: we’ve devoted the last ten years to bringing people—all people—together. If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we’ve worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.

If you want to keep using Firefox, the link at the bottom will take you through to the site.

However, we urge you to consider different software for accessing OkCupid:

Shining a light on your data


Theres a few projects which come along and get me excited… One which got me recently was Mozilla lightbeam.

Lightbeam is a Firefox add-on that uses interactive visualizations to show you the first and third party sites you interact with on the Web. As you browse, Lightbeam reveals the full depth of the Web today, including parts that are not transparent to the average user.

Fascinating stuff… Sounds very familiar to something were doing in BBC R&D (soon to be blogged and I talked about at Oggcamp13). Wonder if Mozilla would be interested in working together? Maybe I missed the chance, when I didn’t go to Mozilla Fest 2013?

Or if not maybe the Ford Foundation would be a good partner?

Ford Foundation focuses on building outreach campaigns to help people understand online data tracking — both the benefits and the issues

Don’t worry I won’t spoil it for you, but you can imagine what were thinking…

Goo or google Engine?

Goo – Instant Play from Goo Technologies on Vimeo.

Short video clip exemplifying the power of browser based games for virality and instant play. Oh, and yes the game is on HTML5 with no plug-ins or download. Powered by the Goo Engine.

To be honest first time I saw the Goo technologies experiment, I thought it was Google trying to one up Mozilla. Right as the Mozilla Fest is on in London (which I couldn’t attend due to a family funeral).

Goo Engine® is the HTML5 and WebGL based 3D engine capable of powering the next generation of interactive web content. Using Goo Engine enables you to incorporate rich 3D content into your existing website without the need for special browser plugins or software downloads.

It looks impressive and if the editor is as simple to make this stuff, well who knows? Could be great in the right hands, specially hands with lots of time like young people

Is the mobile phone industry ready for the pure web?

Mark Surman @ Campus Party BR 2013

The biggest mobile phone trade faire kicks off in the ever so lovely Barcelona, and the analysis seems to suggest this year it will be about all the mobile platforms tearing down Android and iOS.

My favourites have to be Mobile Ubuntu which I have written about in the past and Firefox OS, which Gigaom has written about.

Love the concept of Firefox OS but interestingly there seems to be a lot of support for Firefox OS from the mobile phone industry. Last time I saw this level of support it was for Android.

From an open standards perspective, the Firefox OS is as pure as it gets right now. The whole thing is based on HTML5 – it’s all about escaping Google and Apple’s walled gardens and frolicking freely in the wilds of the open web. Half the code was written by volunteers.

There will be an official Firefox Marketplace but everyone is free to roll their own, from carriers to games specialists. Any payment method can be implemented – that factor is not in the hands of any one platform sponsor. Apps that run on the platform will also be able to run on rivals that implement HTML5, such as Google’s and Apple’s.

Although I do still ask the question of the mobile phone industry, are you ready to give people the pure web?

So back we come to this idea of the open mobile web. This is an area where luminaries such as Tim Berners-Lee have been on the warpath, pointing out very real problems with the iOS/Android model. These include the inability to share app-based content in a standardized way, and the inability to search across apps. In short: the loss of the level playing field that web technologies represent.

Firefox OS is designed to solve those problems. Weirdly, we can now witness the former walled garden proprietors genuinely extol the virtues of openness. By promoting Firefox OS, they cannot regain control – however, they hope to prise some control from the hands of Google and Apple.

Well I guess we shall see how far Firefox OS gets. Like Ubuntu, my contract is up this year so I could be tempted to switch to one of these phones. Although I’ll be honest and say Google’s extra features are pretty compelling, specially Google Now.

Decent cocktails or nothing please

Which cosmo came out of a packet?

The one on the left is out of a packet (just look at the nasty cloudy bog colour). The one on the right is fresh (see the pink and consistent transparency) plus note the froth on top and finally the lack of straws because cosmos are meant to be drunk from the glass not through the straw. Ideally if the orange peel is burned, there is a thin oily skin which is lovely to drink, just in-case you were in any doubt

This was going back a while ago… last year while I was down in South East London.

The Novotel Hotel Bar in Greenwich served me a Cosmopolitan while I was at the bar one night with mark boas, thornet, cyberdees and others… I was so shocked at how bad it was, I complained and got the manager to make me a fresh one. They said it comes out of a packet and that most customers don’t have a problem with it!

Me on the other hand, well I was bloody horrified and couldn’t believe they would serve up that much as a cosmopolitan. Worst still they were charging £6 for it! I was truly outraged…!

Once the manager made me a new one fresh, we talked about lighting the orange peel but he refused, so I did it myself. Anyway to prove the point about the packet cocktails, we lined them up on the side of the bar and took sips of each one.

They did give me the packet one for free but I still refused to drink it instead giving it to other Mozilla fest friends to taste and get there feelings about.

As you imagine the fresh one peed all over the one out of the packet, not a single person said the packet version was nicer or better, even the manager and the bar staff agreed.

The amount of times I’ve referred to this true story is the last few months is untrue. Its also the reason why I won’t put up with crappy drinks I don’t actually want to drink. I’d rather go thirsty or drink water…

Banging the drum for Media Freedom and the Web

I was very excited to invited to the Mozilla Festival which this year was in London. Not only that, it was in South East London.

The Mozilla Festival use to be the Drumbeat Festival but got a rename. The event is something between a un-conference and a hackday. A whole series of challenges which people can duck in and out of. Challenges ranged from Data Journalism to Disc Jockey hacking (ironically both DJ).

Dj Challenge

I headed up the DJ (disc jockey) challenge which was first formulated quite some time ago on behalf of BBC R&D and FutureEverything.

The challenge was to reinvent or at least evolve dj’ing. We started the challenge on Saturday afternoon and it kicked off with a little stimulus from myself and others in the form of a modified presentation. On top of that, we pointed to the Google Doc, which was an aggregation of thoughts from not just myself but many others including BBC staff.

That list is still available if your interested in getting involved in the challenges.


But what came out of the challenge were 2 very strong ideas…

  1. Can we create a format which supports tracks or layers in songs, then build Dj software which takes advantage of them.
  2. Can we build a club environment which makes use of sensors to feedback to the Dj and Vj in real-time through meaningful visualisations
More were talked about but these were the strongest ones, and these are the ones which will be taken forward hopefully into the Future Everything festival next year.
The theme for the conference/hackday was around media & web freedom and there was a question how does the Dj challenge fit into this? Well I gave the example of my pacemaker…

Dj Challenege

A few of us were looking at the problem of what you do with mixes once there finished? Actually one of them was from Mixcloud.com and we were exploring the idea of licensing, etc but we started to think what other ways can you experience mixes? One idea was to map locations to places in a mix.
On my pacemaker, I’ve done mixes walking through locations such as the wrong end of irlam mix. Imagine if it had GPS, so you could map sections to a location. When the mix is uploaded, it could lead people through an artificial version of my journey. So you could experience that moment when the bus streamed past and almost knocked someone over :) How exactly this works, we don’t know, but that’s the challenge…


This for me is the effect of the web on Djing, perfecting fitting into the media and web freedom ethos.
The challenge asked a lot of the people who did attend and frankly if I was to do it again I would size down the challenge down to a few core areas and work on things which can be done in the 90mins we had. Mozilla did allow us to run over 2 days and we have some ideas did run through-out them.
Moving away from the Dj challenge for now, I didn’t get much of a chance to attend the other challenges, but they sounded great. There was a real feel of excitement in the air and the location of Ravensbourne added another layer to it all.

Mozilla Festival

Here’s some of the other stuff which looked very interesting to me…

This Javascript library is looking very impressive and the documentary combining Popcorn with WebGL was impressive. I can only imagine what Adam Curtis could do with this… I’ve made a note to check it out in detail soon. I also think it could be useful in the area of Perceptive Media.
Its another one of those Javascript library’s (seems to be a trend). This one is a nice gaming framework, its still in alpha but it slightly crosses over with the BBC R&D universal control spec from what I saw in the demo.
Hyperaudio links written text with the spoken word. This means you can edit a audio file like how you edit text. Its quite magical when you see it, and would make a great tool for remixing
Teaching young people through standard web technologies how to change the web and make it there own. I think of it like One Laptop Per Child’s Sugar but less programmatic…
Although this wasn’t in the event, I found them from one persons suggestion and then when I went to look up the Eatery I found it again. Its like Creative Commons for privacy, interesting…

Mozilla Festival

Unlike Hackdays where everyone gets a chance to demo there hacks to everyone else, the Mozilla festival had the challenge leaders stand up on stage and give a brief overview of the best ideas and prototypes. On the Saturday night there was keynotes from a whole bunch of people including Tim Hunkin. Everything was good till a guy from the Tech City commission or something started going on and on… Wrong place and wrong time to do a pitch for how great silicon roundabout and techcity are… Frankly I would have liked to have thrown a popcorn.js rubber toy at him because it was so out of tune with the rest of the event. Of course I didn’t do that… but it was bad. Honestly if I caught his name, I would be naming and shaming…

Luckily all the rest of the keynotes and presentations were actually good to excellent.

The event finished with the Dj challenge taking control, because we didn’t have anything built I Dj’ed on my pacemaker along with the Alphasphere guys putting on a performance on stage. If we had thought about it a bit more, we could have Jammed together but alas maybe another time? Maybe at the Future Everything festival…

Congrats to the Mozilla crew, it was great and certainly a highlight. Mozilla’s mission is a good one and something we can all get behind. I was surprised how many people I know from Yahoo, Ebay, etc who are now working at Mozilla. Although it was very adhoc it kind of worked…

I look forward to next year…. Excellent work Michelle, Dees, Alex and a whole host of other cool Mozilla people. It was a honour…

Welcome back to South East London

I was very excited to invited to the Mozilla Festival which this year was in London. Not only that, it was in South East London.

I decided to split the entry, so if your just interested in the Mozilla Festival, skip to the newer post…

For me it was a bit epic because not only was it exciting because I was leading the DJ Challenge on behalf of the BBC, it was in south east London and frankly nothing geeky happens there. The nearest place is maybe the Excel centre which is more east London or Docklands than anything. Not only that, it was North Greenwich which was 5mins ride from Woolwich where I lived with my ex-wife (Sarah) for years. I hadn’t been back for (I believe) 5 years! When I left they were building the DLR to Woolwich Arsenal and of course the housing prices had gone up. So I was amazed to see how it looked now things were actually open.

Woolwich to be honest has changed quite a bit in some parts and not so much in others. Most of the structures and shops are still where they were when I was living there (this is very true of Greenwich too) but things like the square have been totally revamped with a massive screen showing local information and BBC News. There’s even a Starbucks now but didn’t spot a Pizza Express? Its maintained its down-market feel but also embraced the new upper market shops. For example the market selling copied perfume, clothes, etc is still in place.

Lastly the college I studied & taught Interaction design at, was the host for the Mozilla Festival.

For years people in Ravensbourne banged on about the move to North Greenwich. right next to the Dome. It was going to be a landmark building, etc… Well its certainly different, not quite sure it fits in with the rest of the north greenwich developments but its actual quite nice inside. Reminds me of Salford University in MediaCityUK actually with all the space and multiple levels. Right now it feels very bland because they only moved in a while ago?

Good to see a whole bunch of people popping up who I use to work with including Richard, Roman, Arthur, Hamid, etc, etc… each time I saw one of them, I would take a picture and post it on twitter mainly for the purpose of showing Miles and Dave.

So generally it was great to tie all these things together because generally when I come down to London for work or a un-conference and there never anywhere near south London let-alone South East. My only wish is that I could have visited a few of the people I had left behind. Would have been great to know what my neighbours were up to now, see how big their kid, etc.

Why you should go to the Mozilla Festival

mozilla festival poster

Just in-case you had any reasons why you shouldn’t be at the Mozilla Festival? Here’s a whole bunch of reasons why you should be there. As most of you already know, we’re running the Dj and Vj Challenges during the Mozilla Festival event in association with Future Everything, Mozilla and BBC R&D.

We’re going to explore possible futures in the fields of Dj and Vj cultures with a aim to go live with something next year at the Future Everything Festival.

The whole event is at my previous college (Ravensbourne) which moved to its new location next to the Dome in North Greenwich. I’ve never checked out the new look college but if its anything like the new Salford University in Media City UK it looks to be something special and a great place to do a challenge like this.

Of course you want to be part of this… So why not sign up now and I’ll see you there in just under a months time…



What happened to Dj Hackday?

On the cusp of BarCampMediaCity (next weekend) I’m trying to think about all the things which follow on afterwards.

One of the events coming along in the next 2 months is the Mozilla Media Festival which use to be the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival.

Things are still being sorted out but they got a great team of people including Michelle ThorneAlexandra Deschamps-Sonsino and Arran Ross-Paterson. Its happening in my old college Ravensbourne which moved to North Greenwich a few years ago.

I’m hoping to pull together a great team group of people from different companies to be involved in our dj hack challenge.

As mentioned before the best hacks, ideas, etc will go forward into use during the Future Everything 2012 festival.

I’ve emailed quite a few people with this rough description of the challenge and a link to my related presentation

Audio and Music making has gone a revolution, things like Ableton Live and Live Looping has brought new ways to create music. But Dj culture is still focused on 2 decks and a mixer. Next-generation DJ kit has not taken advantage of innovations in music making and has become stagnant. Dj culture has always been forward thinking, but has stalled in the internet era.

So far I’ve convinced, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, RjDj, etc to be involved… But what I’d really like is some more software and hardware makers.

I got talking to Dave a while ago and thought wouldn’t it be cool if we could get the guys behind Free and Open Mixxx software to come along. Of course Ableton would be a natural fit too. Both I’ve contacted… I’ve yet to contact Native Instruments, Virtual Dj, Serato, etc. Hardware wise it would be great to have Vestax, Pioneer, Technics, Numark, etc involved.

There’s also a thought about setting a VJ challenge to go along with the Dj challenge, but thats just thinking out loud via the guys at Future Everything.

Of course if you can help with any of these companies, please drop me a comment or email… Once BarCampMediaCity is over, I’ll be all over this challenge.

Mozilla Media Festival meet Dj Hackday?

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

A gathering of passionate, creative people using the web to bend, hack and reinvent media. We’re solving real problems and building prototypes with talented designers, world-class journalists, resourceful media-makers, and cutting-edge developers.

The prolific Desigan Chinniah who now works for Mozilla and the always ever so sweet Michelle Thorn came to Manchester recently to kick start one of Mozilla’s Drumbeat projects. This one was centred a collaboration with the Knight foundation and trying to change the Newsrooms of the best companies with a good harsh look at Comments, People powered news and Better Video. The badly named Mojo project, is now in its closing stages and all the efforts are being judged. I am a little ashamed that more of the Manchester digital lot didn’t turn out but I’ve already made my feelings be known on Twitter. I did also say to the guys that I would write a blog post but never got around to it, so hopefully this will be a good sub for that.

The Mojo project was and is a very interesting open innovation project but more about this in a later to be written blog post…

When Desigan and Michelle were up in Manchester, I showed them around a little. We ended up after dinner having a late drink or a night cap if you prefer. So on a late night Tuesday we headed into the Northern Quarter for drinks ending up at Noho in Stephens Square.

We talked for ages  about many things including the idea of me Djing on my pacemaker at the Mozilla Media Festival in London in November. Of course I agreed… So if you want to see me djing live and you don’t live in and around Manchester, you can see The Cubicgarden working the dance floor with his pacemaker in London.

I’ve been thinking also as part of the media festivals innovation challenges it could be possible to run Dj Hackday as one of the challenge?

I’ve contacted many people regarding the concept of Dj Hackday including SoundCloud and MixCloud. And although there behind the idea and even see the point of having a hackday just for djs oppose to a music hackday. They seem less eustatic about coming up to Manchester for it, even with the great venue we may have for it. So this could work out quite well for everyone interested… I also like the idea of “a gathering of passionate, creative people using the web to bend, hack and reinvent djing