Decentralization, the people, power, money and the future of the internet

Mozfest 2016

I made reference to the decentralised web multiples times in the past but recently I posted a blog about it. I didnt want to say too much because I knew the Mozilla Festival was due to announce the call for participation.

This year things have changed quite a bit; this year its based around the Mozilla Internet health report.

I’m co-wrangling the decentralization space (note the Z not S, I tried but failed…), and of course I urge you all to check out the space narrative below.

the future is here
The year is 2027: Who owns the Internet?

In the dystopian version of 2027, the Internet is owned by a powerful few. Big tech corporations, select media companies and closed governments control the content on the Internet, the data that flows across the Internet and how people connect to the Internet. This dystopian future is closer than you may think.

On the flip side, what is the utopian version of the Internet in 2027? What future do we want to build? Where do emerging technologies like AI, mesh networking and Blockchain fit in? How do we ensure people are the most important part of the Internet?

Join us at Mozfest as we look into the future. Dystopian, utopian or somewhere in between—let’s explore the Internet of 2027.

Exciting eh? but you maybe thinking, well this doesn’t sound like something I’d be interested in applying for?

Think again… its likely that there is something you haven’t considered which is perfectly fitting for example…

  • Power (political or system) distribution
  • Devolution
  • P2P technology like WebRTC, Torrent, etc
  • IndieWeb
  • Sharing economics
  • Crowd funding
  • Democratizing power
  • Open data and apis
  • Robustness & Sustainability
  • Net neutrality
  • Emergence
  • Open alternatives
  • Networks of trust
  • Mesh networking
  • The co-operative movement
  • Networked intelligence
  • Federated systems

So what you waiting for?

Add your proposal to the already growing list of proposals.

See you Mozilla Festival 2017

Thinking about Estonian’s e-Residency

Tallinn, Estonia

I was in Tallinn, Estonia most of this week for MozRetreat. Tallinn was a wonderful place and surprised me no end.

On the first full day we had a Alex Wellman who filled us all in on Estonian’s e-Residency program (one which I wrote about a while ago). I was certainly interested and it was great to get the full details and answers to my personal questions.

Generally its mainly setup for businesses and freelancers wanting to work/trade within the EU. For myself theres few reasons to take part in the program but its highly likely after considering everything, I may go ahead and do it, mainly for these reasons.

Estonia’s E-Residency program

  • Being slightly tied to the EU as the UK leaves
  • A verified digital identy useable to sign legal documents
  • Beta testing a truly digital redidency/citizenship system (exciting!)
  • Not having to give up my british citizenship
  • Freelancing support within the EU if my career takes a turn
  • There maybe a chance to setup a bank account in the EU in the near future

The Alex Wellman made some good points but ultimately its a bit of a leap into the unknown with the chance of more advantages coming in years to come.

Being in the UK, I can do almost everything online and then do the interview and pick up my new digital identity in the Estonian Embassy in London.

Its seems all worth while for 100 euros, form filling and interviews.

Updated… I’ve applied

estonian e-residency conformation

I just hope the photos I sumbmitted were good enough for the process.

Mozfest retreat in Tallinn?

Tallinn Mozretreat

Mozfest the festival I have been in involved with for the last 6 years; is a collaborative event and of course there is some overhead to the collaboration. But Mozilla have ways to work through the usual issues with collaboration; be it collaborative tools first or subverting github to manage the open calls. Its quite amazing…

But sometimes you need to bring people together across the many different timezones we inhabit. 2 years ago it was Scotland, last year it was Berlin and this year its Tallinn.

Of course I was wondering like many others. I heard some great things about the place but it wasn’t hot on my list of places to go. But some more research has turned up some great stuff including the e-resident which I first heard about from Alex DS.

Ahead of Brexit, statistics reveal that almost 1,000 Brits have now applied to be e-residents of Estonia. Applications from the UK are being made twice as frequently as before the referendum, following an initial surge from three to 51 applications per week. More than half of all applications from the UK, 534, have arrived since the vote, while 231 arrived in the same period beforehand. Based on current trends, it is likely the 1,000th British application for e-residency will arrive this week, as Article 50 is due to be triggered.

Elsewhere, a website has been set up by the e-residency programme for British entrepreneurs called howtostayin.eu which explains how startups, established businesses and freelancers can use Estonian e-residency to continue their operations in the EU without leaving the UK.

I wish I had done it earlier, as I’ll be doing this for sure now

Interestingly I also found the p0rnhub insights for estonia while searching, which was fancinating but slightly #nsfw, so you were warned! I was going to send it around to some of the Mozfest orginaisers but couldn’t find a way to explain why it was interesting or relavent.

This time next week I’ll be at #mozfest 2016

Global Village at Mozfest

It’s that week heading into the Mozilla Festival. As usually I’m pretty hectic with things to do and think about. Every year I think why do I put myself through it?

Spacewrangler is something which takes some time to explain and I tried to do so previously and here. But I explain it as running your own conference within the wider framework of the Mozilla Festival.

Its hard work but ever so rewarding!

There is no other time or place when you can put together a mini-conference with sessions and exhibits; schedule everything in the open and fly in great workshop speakers locally & around the world. It’s quite amazing and every year I think how is this even possible?

For example in the Home section of dilemmas in connected spaces.

There are 24 sessions which are a mix of workshops, talks, games and exhibits. They have all been scheduled by myself and I have personally checked all the sessions to be sure they fit with the narrative of the home and the wider dilemmas in connected spaces narrative.

BBC R&D’s partnership with Nottingham University is clealy evidenat this year with Homelab Kitchen meets Databox and Broadcasting through objects both appearing in the line up.

Preparing for Mozfest 2016

I especially find the openness of the whole festival and Mozilla incredible and inspirational. Everything from the open calls to the curation of the sessions. Its a very open process… Its a logical conclusion of most of the values built into barcamp, hackdays and other community centrered events.

Mozilla recently announced the complete lineup/schedule for the festival, which was a bit of a scrable because sometimes things are not quite settled till the actual day. Its the beauty of the festival, things can shift and change; but there is a tension with people wanting to schedule their time to get the best out of the festival.

This year we (myself, Michelle, Jon, Micheal and Dietrich) will build on the previous 2 years and intergrate even deeper with the rest of the festival. If you thought the banyan tree was great, you seen nothing yet! In the space, dilemmas in connected spaces, we have a camp site, the secret garden, a studio and of course the home complete with a post Brexit political experience setup and run by Alex and Peter.

Global Village at Mozfest

Mozfest is a experiece and a half, and always a highlight in my calendar.

You won’t want to miss this years festival and tickets are still available, but be quick as it always sells out.

Another busy period

Ordinary life does not interest me

For the next few weeks I’m pretty busy. My calendar looks like I may have eaten something I’m allergic to and threw up. Leaving you with that pretty nasty thought.

Some of the highlights include…

Its not so much that I’m doing lots of big stuff, rather all the little bits in between some interesting events. For example getting Visual Perceptive Media on BBC Taster in a sensible way. Writing a paper for TVX 2017, arranging DJ Hackday 2017, etc, etc…

The amount of blogging and tweeting might drop as a result. Sure my 5.5 tweets a day has seriously dropped, but I’m blaming Twitter for that.

I always said an ordinary life does not interest me, and there is a certain amount of hustle involved with this all.

Why Ade should be at Mozfest

I had a read of Adewale’s blog about Cargo cults and progressive web apps stores. While reading it, I thought this is perfect for the Mozfest space we are crurating this year. The tale of two cities: dilemmas in connected spaces.

What Ade is tackling is the notion that app stores or the walled gardens are bad and more native fuctionality is heading out on to the web. He ponders if this is a good thing or not?

I know the recent Web USB draft certainly got a few peoples noses out of joint; for good reason to be honest, especialy on security grounds. However I’m personally not convinced by the legacy background Adewale mentions.

It’s easy to forget that app stores emerged as a response to the difficulties of dealing with carriers to get your content ‘on deck’getting your apps preinstalled and the extremely closed nature of that ecosystem.

Yes that was then and this is now. I clearly remember the pain of installing apps on my PocketPC devices. It was painful and clearly early adopter like myself were the only ones who would put up with it. However legacy isn’t a good reason to back an closed garden model?  Its a call card for the open web right? I mean Adewale’s reasoning is good…

  • give an obvious place to find apps that have particular functionality (try searching for “games that don’t need wifi” in the Play Store)
  • give developers an obvious place to find large numbers of users.
  • give developers a structured mechanism for exposing the features of their app so that users can filter the set of available apps for apps that have those features.
  • give users an obvious place to review apps.
  • give developers an obvious place to accrue reputation for their apps.
  • give platform vendors a place to assert policies that drive developer behaviour.
  • give every app on a platform a canonical URL ( for example here are iOS and Android URLs for the same game).

But its merly a step in the right direction, and to be fair most these features are just merely cracks in a flaw model of the walled garden or the garden trying to emulate the web? However I do also think there are lessons which can be learned from them.

Instead of ‘cargo culting‘ the app stores we should be asking what web-centric solutions to the problem would look like. For me that means lots of competing and opinionated PWA directories rather than one central PWA Store or even a popular search engine.

This is the start of not only a good workshop at Mozfest, but also the start of a good exhibit/experience/dilemma. He (or someone) really needs to submit a proposal for Mozfest before August 1st.

Run a session in the tale of two cities at Mozfest

Global Village at Mozfest

The call for proposals is up and Mozilla are asking for diverse, interactive and workshops from the savvy public. This year the proposals can be in French, Spanish and Arabic. Also this year the theme in the physical area is the Tale of Two Cities

A tale of two cities

Dilemmas in connected spaces

This space will allow makers and learners to explore these dilemmas through a series of interactive experiences and mischievous interventions. Participants might nap on a squishy chair that generates sleep data; cook a snack in a connected kitchen where appliances only sometimes do as you say; and hack on IoT hardware.

The theme builds on 2014’s ethic dilemma cafe and raises the stakes by forcing people to consider the choices we all make during our digital and physical lives.

Are you a consumer or maker? Rather do your bit in the open garden or prefer the confort of a walled garden? Want everything free or rather pay what you like? Rather device automation or manuel control?

Each one of these have different factors and considerations, and we will let them play out as physical spaces. We’d love to see workshops which explored these types of decisions we make with our physical & digital interactions. There are many more we haven’t even considered, which I know you will…

Sessions don’t have to be super sketched out, we can work it up into something special together. You will also be able to see how we discuss and select sessions on Github, as we did last year. Radical transparancy could be a nice dilemma to explore?

You know what to do… Put in a proposal before August 1st

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…

Ambient intimacy the new loneliness?

A few weeks ago I took part in the eye contact experiment in Sheffield. The purpose was to connect with a fellow human being in a way we usually avoid in modern society.

I have already wrote about the use of Mobile technology in Japan and crossed it with the selfie craze. But I have to admit although the selfie/narcissism was bad. There was a low level almost ambient undertone to the silence of people looking at rectangular LCD screen.

Japan is always known as way ahead of the curve. When most of us were still using desktops and laptops to connect the internet, residents of Japan were using their phones. Theres many other examples but I spotted something which deeply worries me. Sherry Turkle’s connected alone was playing out everywhere you went.

I was in the queue for a rollercoaster and 4 guys were standing in silence through out the whole 40-50min queue. There were each transfixed to their phones not uttering a single word till we finally got on the ride and then they were best buds, laughing and chatting away. I saw them again later (the theme park wasn’t that busy and isn’t that big – about the size of Thorpe Park) and it was more of the same.  They may have been playing the same game but together they were alone.

Alone together

Sad as it may be (you could say its part of the Japanese culture, but I’m not so sure), you are seeing more and more of this. And its not just a age thing. The online world can be very seductive and some people forget the offline world for many reasons. Maybe things are difficult there, things are not going so well, they can be somebody else?

Sounds familiar right? Some people have been calling it ambient intimacy, something I heard a lot time ago but hadn’t really stop and thought about.

I  forgot the term, which I saw as the logical conclusion of what I saw in Japan and seeing to a lesser degree here. I first wrote about it when listening to Leisa Reichelt talking at the future of webapps 2007.

This thought catalogue piece sums up quite a bit is the new loneliness

Our generation of sadness and loneliness is of the unchecked variety. Of wallowing. Of letting ourselves be disconnected from both others and ourselves. Learning to soothe more than heal. Learning to put a band-aid on problems instead of working through and solving our problems. If something is not immediate, we don’t want it, even if it’ll make us stronger. We’re not growing as people, not really. We’re shoving away “bad feelings” we don’t want to face by clicking, refreshing, scrolling until we’ve numbed ourselves out enough. It’s addiction.

I was talking to a friend recently and she was telling me about the massive effect grindr is having on the gay men of Manchester. The once vibrant gay village of canal street is now full of hen parties and hetrosexual men chasing them. The gay men so addicted to the new reality of grindr, they don’t waste time meeting/socialising down canal street, when there is a sea of faces and other parts of the body on the comfort of your screen. Of course there is human contact but its short lived, fleeting but also highly charged and very exciting.  If its not, don’t worry theres other fields to go explore and why not?

This is something I talked about during my ragged talk.

In years, decades to come will we see the ambient intimacy the same way as we see smoking now? Or if Adrian Hon is right, eating meat?

I’m confident that in a hundred years, eating meat will be regarded in the negative way we now view racism or sexism – an ugly, demeaning, and unnecessary act. Like smoking, it will simply fall out of fashion because we’ll find better and healthier alternatives, although we’ll still occasionally eat humanely reared-and-killed animals. Note that I still eat meat even though I should know better.

If there was one picture which sums up this slow backlash, it has to be this one… removed.

Removed

As the author says…

The joining of people to devices has been rapid and unalterable. The application of the personal device in daily life has made tasks take less time. Far away places and people feel closer than ever before. Despite the obvious benefits that these advances in technology have contributed to society, the social and physical implications are slowly revealing themselves.

I saw it a while ago but frank reminded me of the picture while we were talking about the eye contact event.

There was a number of talks at Thinking Digital Manchester which strayed deep into this area., including our own workshop.  Authenticity was the word of the moment. Be yourself and talk with a human voice. Something the Cluetrain Manifesto talks a lot about.

I have bounced back and forth and about this whole thing, creating many revisions (62 to be honest) and drafts of this blog post.

Part of me wonders if this is just the new reality and I’m actually just getting old?

Who couldn’t be excited by the new possibilities to be connected to many people at the same time? Jason Silva called itcollapsing geography with cellphone wormholes. However this also pulls us out of the moment (must finish reading Douglas Rushkoff’s Present Shock) creating physical barriers with the people we spending time with. Maybe its the intent or even the lack of intent which is the problem?

Like checking your phone at the table, your subconscious intent is that the current situation isn’t interesting enough to fully engage? Or a sign we feel strangely lonely?  The fear of missing out is a double edged sword, and is a really strong motivator in this all. Then throw in the paradox of choice and you have a recipe for long term problems. This is what I thought when I first heard the term present shock to be honest.

Mozfest Global Village

This was some of the motivation behind a short pathway of two great sessions at Mozfest 2015. Hacking Mental Health: Changing Views in Tech and Happiness in the digital era. (reminds me of  The Practice of Happiness workshop by Bobby Paterson at Thinking Digital 2011). We even ran our own eye contact experiment in the crazy space of Mozfest.

Eye contact at Mozfest Global Village

With all this playing on my mind (and the fact its a link between all the events over the last few weeks)…

I bought a copy of Alone Together and Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. I decided enough with the drafts, I’m putting this thought on hold for a further blog post or maybe a discussion some day?

A busy few weeks between dating, personal impact, #tdcmcr and #mozfest

Tokyo rush

The next few weeks are going to be pretty busy…

As usual its kinda of stressful but ever-so exciting!

 

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.

Get involved in Mozfest 2015!

Mozfest 2014

Mozfest, oh Mozilla…!

Get involved in Mozfest 2015 – Proposals!

Last year we put out a call for participation but this year we have been so distracted with the changes, summer and other stuff, that we haven’t blogged or tweeted about the call for 2015’s mozfest! (our bad)

Our focus this year is around civic, community and social sustainable practice. We will explore the tension between the public and private in our creation the connected library. Its going to be quite different from last years focus on data ethics, but don’t worry its there in part.

In addition Mozilla are keen to see sessions that explore: 
  • Privacy and the web
  • Ethics of the web
  • Web literacy
  • Economy of the web
  • Inclusion and the web
  • Environment and the web
  • Future web now
  • Place and the web

So if you can please please read this blog post and then fill in the call for participation before it closes on Monday 31st August (I know I know! at least its BST+8) If you need more time, please please get in touch with me on twitter or email,ASAP…


This year things have changed, quite a bit. This year we are much more deeply involved and actually took part in a mozretreat in deepest darkest Fife, Scotland.

In the little Scottish fishing village of Anstruther, at the edge of nowhere, 40 community facilitators met to think about the future of Mozfest.

The upshot is a slightly changed Mozfest, which is no bad thing after 5 years of doing what it does well. Many people thoughts and ideas were squeezed into the retreat and the result was a slightly changed programme thoughts for the future.

Mozfest has always had a participatory community focus but there was a feeling things had gotten a little fragmented with people going to one track and not really checking out other things going on the floor above and beyond. Is there a way to have both the community participatory focus and something which encourages people to explore? So things have changed,  what exactly is complex  but luckly I don’t need to because Michelle has done this in her blog post.

Mozfest is a collection of participatory experiences.

As organizers, we set a framework for others to design and host these experiences. This builds on a set of learning principles as well as elements that can be combined to make the overall Mozfest program.

The main program elements are:

  • Session (an experience or activity)

  • Pathway (a series of sessions)

  • Space (a series of pathways)

So last year we were space wranglers and build a couple of spaces for people to experience and learn in (the framework). We also pulled together sessions and thought about how they connect and build on each other (aka we were doing the pathway role without realising it)

What are pathways, besides a series of sessions strung together? Well Michelle outlines the idea fully in another blog post. Basically pathways are like the lines on a train maps with interchanges to take a different route to the same goal.

Its going to be one heck of mission working this all out but frankly BarCamp and Mozfest shouldn’t really work but they do, extremely well!

 

Stem based mixing again

Si Lumb sent me a link to a BBC News piece about Stem based music mixing. Always something interesting, especially since 8trk

Of course I sent LJ Rich and Si a few links to 8Trk which we developed at Mozfest 3 years ago as part of Dj Hackday. Of course Native instruments has been mentioned by me before but it seems to be getting some traction?

 

The walls eyes up a design award

BBCRD up for a design award

So happy for Libby, Andrew and Jasmine who worked on the Walls have eyes exhibition within the ethical dilemma cafe at Mozilla Fest last year. Its been a bit of a secret but now its been announced along with the other digital entries.

Mozfest 2014

Knock them over guys! It was a great idea and the images were so great. So happy to have given you guys the space to run it and frankly make us think about the ethics of our personal data some more.

Interestingly while thinking about the ethics of personal data, Doc Searls and David Weinburger recently kindly took time out of their busy schedule to talk about the Cluetrain and NewClues at Commonground. Doc said something which got people going a little

..what seems to have struck the Chord of Controversy was something I blabbed: “Tracking-based advertising is creepy and wrong… and needs to be wiped out.” Martin Bryant (@MartinSFP)tweeted a video clip and a series of other tweets followed.

Being tracked around spaces is something we did within the ethical dilemma cafe and its a mistake to think others are not doing this already.

The dilemma is what are you going to do? And I’d love to see a proper public debate about this all. Maybe this could be arranged following some of the work I’m about to release…

 

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.