The internet is broken, but we can fix it and replace broken parts. In this conference we will look for ways how we can make the internet a healthy public space again. With a day program for professionals from the public sector looking for a way out of big tech, and for developers of alternative systems for a safe, open and fair internet. We conclude the day with a talk show for everyone about the dangers of the current model, but also the concrete possibilities for a future internet without surveillance capitalism, and with healthy alternatives that we can use immediately.
Together we answer the impossible question: how do we create a public space on the internet?
Mark it down in your calendars… and expect more details soon.
I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks recently and my latest one being the inner level. While I heard the mention of the Swedish word Lagom.
The direct translation of the word lagom is actually moderate but it also roughly its used to say, just enough/right. A reminded of the great Rachel Coldicutt’s (OBE!) keynote speech during Mozhouse last year.
“We need public spaces, built in the spirit of Walt Whitman, that allow us to gather, communicate, and share in something bigger than ourselves.
As we head into the most consequential, contentious election in our history, it’s time to fix some of the structural problems that led us to this moment. Let’s face it: Our digital public sphere has been failing for some time. Technologies designed to connect us have instead inflamed our arguments and torn our social fabric.
Eli goes on to talk about public spaces using the analogy of public parks rather than private gardens. This is something which many has talked about and we had planned to build at Mozilla Festival the year we built the connected library.
Now, accelerated by the pandemic, we spend much of our time living and conversing with others in a different location: digital space. But social media and messaging platforms weren’t designed to serve as public spaces. They were designed to monetize attention.
Much of our communal life now unfolds in digital spaces that feel public but are not. When technologists refer to platforms like Facebook and Twitter as “walled gardens”—environments where the corporate owner has total control—they’re literally referring to those same private pleasure gardens that Whitman was reacting to. And while Facebook and Twitter may be open to all, as in those gardens, their owners determine the rules.
I like the points made why venture backed platforms (private gardens) are awful public spaces. In short I see it like this…
On Growth. I was listening to Team Human with Marina Gorbis & Douglas Rushkoff with a strong statement of scale is the enemy of humanity. On friction parks are messy because they are used by different people in different ways Private/walled gardens are predestine, they have house rules. These rules are set by the owner. Public parks are owned by the public and there is a democratic way to set the ground rules.
I found the post is clever to call out public institutes like libraries, schools, etc. My only issue is this is all very american, which has its own unique cultural differences.
Its been one heck of the year and to be frank 2021 is going to be pandemic driven too. While we all try and find our way in the new normal. Its worth looking at things which have delighted us all.
One of those for me is the Mozilla Festival which usually falls on October half-term. It would have been this week starting with Mozhouse and ending on Mozfest on the weekend, if it was still in London and there wasn’t a world wide pandemic of course.
With all that happening and not going to massively change come early next year. Mozfest will be mainly a virtual festival over 2 weeks in March. Being a community festival its time for the call for proposals.
Anyone can submit a session – you don’t need any particular expertise, just a great project or idea and the desire to collaborate and learn from festival participants. Since it’s online this year, we’re especially eager to see session proposals from those that haven’t been able to attend in year’s past due to travel restrictions.
If you or someone you know is interested in leading a session at MozFest this year, you can submit your session ideahere! The deadline is November 23.
The decision to move locations after 9 years in London wasn’t taken lightly. London opened its arms to us in 2011, and we loved its multicultural diversity and entrepreneurial spirit. But it was expensive, and harder to get visas for our guests each year.
During many conversations with the community in Amsterdam, we were consistently impressed with the alignment in values between Amsterdam and Mozilla, as well as the enthusiasm they brought to the proposal process. Amsterdam has publicly-stated principles around protecting data transparency, privacy, and internet access for citizens. And, it is home to a robust and eclectic community of creative thinkers. Our common goals for progressive, radical change in areas of AI, digital rights and literacy, with community inclusion at the fore, will make us great partners in executing a festival that will be a convening force for supporting a more open and healthy internet for all.
Moving to Amsterdam is not our only news. We have also decided to wait until March of 2021 to host our next MozFest. The extra time allows us to critically assess our design to ensure that what we build is robust and accessible and it allows us to embed ourselves in Amsterdam to get to know the local open advocates and activists.
March 2021, is likely a good idea with the Cornoavirus on the rampage right now to be fair.
Mozilla have a couple of Ask Me Anything sessions planned for Wednesday 18th in their Slack group.
There will be no more going to Ravensbourne. A place with a million stairs and incredible spaces. Its also my previous university so I always bump into someone I knew. On top of that its just down the road from the last place I lived in South East London, so its always interesting to take a bus east and see whats changed. That bloody big Tesco in Woolwich is awful, but I completely missed the IKEA!
Back to Mozfest however…
Its been 10 years and I have been to 8 of them. I missed the first one due to being elsewhere during the drumbeat festival. Then the second one due to being slightly busy with my brush with death. After that I went every single year getting more and more involved. I still remember when the whole festival was around Learning, Freedom and the Web, heck I still have the book on my shelf.
At some point during 2014, I became a spacewrangler for 4 years . I have to say Jon Rogers had something to do with this for sure.
Its been quite a amazing time and people always ask me, why?
I can now point people at the Mozfest book which charts the history and some of the unique stories from the people who make up Mozfest.
Honestly its the people and community which make it all worth it. As Greshake-Tzovaras said
“Even when coming to MozFest for the first time it felt like coming back to family, in the best possible sense. People are so welcoming and friendly!”
Its like an extended family and one of the best communities to be a part of. There are people I have met through Mozfest which have become incredible friends, collaborators and business partners. I have had critical time with people working at the very edge, people with great ideas/tech/plans. I have visited their homes, met their partners, spent endless nights plotting and shared the highs and lows. My contact book is not just full of contacts but full of people with authentic strong connections from around the world.
Its all about the people and community of Mozilla!
Then in the words of Sarah, because one weekend isn’t enough…
There was Mozhouse and lets not forget Mozretreat (which I originally thought was Moztreat) which marks the officially first drum of the festival. I can’t tell you how much has come out of both of those too.
Where ever it goes next (my money is on Amsterdam), I will be making a very good case why I should be involved in some way or another. On to bigger and even better things…
I was looking forward to this one but on the week of Mozfest, my Dell XPS laptop woke me up in the middle of the night with a bright screen. I thought it was odd to have it on, as its usually a sleep. On closer inspection I found I couldn’t do much, so rebooted it. On the reboot I was able to login but not launch almost anything, so I rebooted again. To find I dumped into a GRUB recovery console. Its a long story what happened next but ultimately my plans to host the dating JSON files on my local machine with a nicer interface was never going to happen.
With all this in mind I changed the presentation (google slides are my friend) and scope of the workshop. Luckily I had redacted enough of the data in advance, and I kept a hold of my data instead of letting people rummage through like I had planned.
The people who came were quite vocal and engaged with everything. There were many questions about the dating and deception part, which made think I could have done a whole bit similar to my TEDx talk a few years ago. But I really wanted to get into the meat of the workshop, beyond requesting your data, actually getting it but now what?
This is exactly what I posed as a question to people.
The replies were quite different from what I was thinking…
A group said if you could get a number of data dumps over time, you coul mine the data on your profile to look at positive & negative changes over a longer time scale. This would work great especially on the OKcupid questions, which you can change at anytime and I have.
Another group suggested something similar to Cambridge Analytica using OKcupid questions. I did suggest its highly likely they (Okcupid) are already doing this and its reflected in the people you are shown rather than your vote and news you see. I wasn’t making light of it, just sadly saying everything is there and yes it could be turned into a personality profile easily enough
There was a interesting thought to tally up messages and changes in profile data with historic weather, moon, quantified self data and other data. To see if there is a link. I think this one might include the person who asked why I redacted the star sign data?
The idea of creating a dating bot of yourself was quite shocking, but the thought was with enough of my chat transcripts you could easily train a bot to answer people in the future like I would. There was a discussion about ethics of doing so and what happens when a bot meets another bot pretending to be human
Finally group suggested visualisations to help make tangible choices and things I wrote. This was good in the face of what was missing and how to inform the dirty little tricks dating companies do for profit. Its always clear how powerful visualisation can be, you only have to look at my twitter gender data visualisation from openhumans.
Its clear the Plenty of Fish data was less interesting to people and it would be trivial to move from OKCupid to POF based on the dataset. Other way would require a lot user input.
Massive thanks to Fred Erse for keeping me on time and collecting the ideas together.
So what happens next?
Well I’m keen to put either the actual data or the redacted data into openhumans and try the Jupyter notebook thing. Maybe I can achieve the final groups ideas with some fascinating visualisations.
I started a physical mindmap on Saturday morning in the neurosiversity space and hung up information from the dyslexic advantage book, something I have written a lot about. I then invited the public to read and write on postage tags what they thought the advantages of dyslexia look like. These were hung up for others to read and explore.
I left it over the weekend and let people just add more and more. I also had some great conversations with different people about the advantages. One lady didn’t know there were advantages and lived with dyslexia all her life. As a whole lots people were correctly diagnosed at University and College, which is the norm as the book says. I think I met about 4 people who were diagnosed in School.
I have some great photos and when Mozfest finished I took them with me. Reading them in full it was quite amazing to read.
Here’s the almost complete list (I couldn’t read some of them and I removed the duplicates)…
Right maths, wrong numbers!
Non-reading information sensitivity
Network of thoughts
Attention to details
Improvising & Creativity
Pattern recognition / Recognition pattern
Ability to tell stories
Empathy to others
Roles can lead to success
Glad I did it and the conversations were amazing, shame I couldn’t be around in the ND space all weekend. Massive thanks to the Spacewranglers of neurodiversity for accepting my session and helping out.
After 10 incredible years, 9 of which were in London, MozFest is asking Where to next?
As a community, we have so much to celebrate for this 10th festival. As we reflect on all we have learnt and built together, we invite you to join us in imagining what the next 10 years of growth and experiences for the MozFest community could be — in a new location.
Its not over yet! The next Mozilla Festival for 2019 is on for the week of Monday 20th October – Sunday 27th October. Yes a whole week of celebrations for the festival which set the conversation involving tech, policy, law, design and media. It was 2010 when Mozilla created the book Mozilla Learning, Freedom and the Web, which lead the way to the yearly Internet heath report.
Of course there’s amazing parties every evening and I expect each one will be incredible being the 10th Mozfest and the last one in the UK. After the success of last years werewolf, I’ll be running another space for those who fancy a break free for the full moon. By Sunday who knows I might even get a chance to throw some tunes down on the pacemaker device?
Its a full on week but well worth it and you can like the organisers relaxed on Monday afternoon.
We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the state of democracy around the world and closer to home. To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
With a focus on new models in business, technology, society, policy, processes, etc. I present my public service internet newsletter.
Ian thinks: Mozfest moving out of London a few days before Brexit is ominous, however the strategy of moving location every few years is a good idea for all including Mozilla. Learn more and get involved
The internet has enormous potential to be a force for public good, with many initiatives working to create an open, inclusive and trustworthy network. PublicSpaces.net and BBC Research and Development have worked together to organise this one day conference at MozFest House during Mozilla Foundation’s week-long open internet festival. It will explore ways in which we could make a new internet that strengthens the public domain and deliver public value online, in line with PublicSpaces commitment to providing a digital social platform that serves the common interest and does not seek profit.
Our topics for the day include
Public-Controlled Data (presented by BBC R&D)
Equal Access for Everyone (tba)
Healthy Digital Public Sphere (presented by Mozilla)
Public Service Networking (presented by PublicSpaces.net)
Tim Berners-Lee helped invent the world wide web 30 years ago. And he has consistently pointed out that the original dream that gave rise to it is under threat.
It is exactly 30 years since Sir Tim submitted a paper to his colleagues at CERN, suggesting a way of sharing data across networks, under the title “Information Management: A Proposal”. The humble title belies the importance of what was contained inside, which included a complete sketch for the networked information system that would on to become the internet we know today.
But its really important to think about the next 30 years.
I had a really good 10min talk with Sir Tim Berners-Lee during the last Mozilla Festival, while talking about Solid, Databox and data trust. What got me as we talked, was ultimately we were talking about power and where it lies. Power in the hands of governments (Chinese model) , corporations (American model) or people? (could be the European model?)
I think remembering their are humans, not eyeballs, not lefties/rightwingers, etc is so important. Lets celebrate the people of the web!
This year, ideas from Mozilla’s first full-length Internet Health Report — a deep look at how the Internet and human life intersect — are at the heart of the festival. At MozFest 2018, we’ll strategize our next moves in global campaigns for net neutrality, data privacy, and online freedom. We’ll advance thinking on topics like ethical AI and common-sense tech policy. We’ll collaborate on code, on art and practical ideas, creating seeds for the next great open-source products.
You may have noticed a lot of blog posts about decentralising the internet? Last year I had the pleasure of spacewrangling the decentralised space at Mozfest, and I wrote down my reasons why I switched from the privacy and security space while in Tallinn. This year I won’t be spacewrangling (although I’m very happy to see Mark and Ross still involved in the wrangling)
In this parallel dimension, people self-organise into open groups that create art, write code, and even build cities. Their technology runs on consensus and their society is fuelled by data. But data is not just a resource — it’s an extension of individual identity and collective culture. People give informed consent to data gathering and enjoy transparency of use.
Journey to a new world and bring back powerful, resilient technology; explore radical, paradigm-shifting ideas; and take part in cutting-edge discourse. Explore protocols like DAT, IPFS and ActivityPub, alongside ideas such as net neutrality and proof of stake. Experience decentralised platforms like Matrix and Mastodon, and support the equal commons of all.
Let’s discover this wonderland, together.
I do have things I want to submit and the deadline is August 1st. So you got some time to put something in, and it doesn’t need to be super detailed, just enough to explain the overall idea. Get in there and submit now!
My thoughts about important this really is goes super deep, as I’ve seen how the internet has been hijacked by a monolithic culture of private businesses with a winner takes all attitude.
Of course I’m not the only one thinking and talking about this. Many people and organisations are, including the W3C, Mozilla, Dot Everybody, BBC and Nesta to say a few.
The internet isn’t where we want it to be. With power increasingly centralised in the hands of very few players, citizens have little say in where we want the internet to go next. But challenging existing dynamics won’t be easy: we find ourselves caught in the crossfire between the dominant American models (driven by Big Tech) and the increasingly powerful Chinese model (where government reigns supreme). Is there scope to create a third, European model, where citizens and communities are in charge?
In this session, we discuss alternative trust models for the internet. This session is part of the European Commission’s Next Generation Internet initiative. We will hear from Manon den Dunnen, strategic specialist at the Dutch National Police, Ian Forrester, Chief Firestarter at BBC R&D and Marta Arniani, innovation strategist and founder of Futuribile / Curating Futures. Chairing will be Katja Bego, senior researcher at Nesta and coordinator of the Next Generation Internet Engineroom project.
Sounds like a very good panel right? I can’t see many punches being pulled either. Get your ticket now.