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.
We did a audio interview but had to redo part of it due to running over time. I did warn them, I do tend to chat a lot. But when I saw the transcript, even I was shocked at how much I do say and the amount of “like” & “ummms” was scary.
After some solid collaborative editing and some hard deadlines. We got it down to the 66mins of reading (according to my wallabag reader).
When I first heard about Afrotech festival, I was impressed with the idea. I’ve always been in the minority at tech conferences. Its been so common that I just don’t (try not to) think about it. Its very common for tech events to try and encourage more women to be involved but even with gender diversity its poor to bad. Calls for racial diversity tend to end up falling on slightly deaf ears. Its not always unwillingness but it does have a slight effect, and makes you think… should I be here?
In actual fact the only times I have been in a tech event where the dominate people weren’t white males has been the girl geekdinner events. For example last week Sunday I was a girl geek tea party with all women and myself, I felt comfortable enough and hopefully everybody else felt the same (there was no indication to suggest any issues).
The festival ran over Friday & Saturday. It felt more like a unconference with clear tracks. The sessions were varied with topics ranging from An introduction to cryptocurrency to What the Matrix can teach us about Diversity & Inclusion. There were panels for example The Good and Evils of Machine Learning. All the sessions focused on a slightly different view, for example the machine learning panel included lot about algorithm bias and transparency. Issues which directly effect the lives of minorities.
Another great thing beyond just the make up of the people was the diversity of personal backgrounds. There were developers, artists, people working in law, etc, etc. There was also a youth track on Saturday afternoon (which I obviously didn’t attend) it was great to see young people wondering around like you see at Mozfest.
I was impressed with everything especially the 6 black female organisers and lots of helpers, who made everyone feel at home in Richmix. The festival was very welcoming to those not from the black community with everybody was respectful alongside the lines of the code of conduct. Its also the first time I’ve had to agree/sign my presentation and keynote will not break the code, something others should do.
I had a great time, learned a lot and even my non-technical sister took away something. The conversations I had were great and look forward to the next one.
Afrotech Fest is a two-day tech and digital festival in the UK by and for black people of African and Caribbean heritage. It explores the intersection of technology, the arts, history, news, activism and representation. In particular Afrotech Fest aims to provide a platform for people across a variety of backgrounds to imagine a future free of the present biases whether conscious or unconscious. Click talks to Ade Adewunmi and Ian Forrester about Afrotech.
Back in October I was again a spacewrangler for Mozfest. I haven’t had a proper chance to write-up the experience since I was going from one place to another. Unlike previous years as a spacewrangler, Mozilla themed the festival around the internet health report issues.
…power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely – Sir John Dalberg-Acton
Big centralised power tends to lead towards corruption. A good example of this is the dating industry which is centralised and treats its customers like cattle. There is something about these centralised services which cuts people off from each other, hence everything is mediated through the centralised server. Of course they would claim its to protect the users, which is certainly partly true (based on the amount of women’s profiles which say please no pix of your parts) but thats not the only thing they do…
So with all this in mind, I switched from privacy and security which had enough momentum; to decentralised with a Z; poor Erika had to hear me joke/moan about it everytime (thanks Erika for being such a sport).
The timeline from the Mozretreat to Mozfest is pretty aggressive, and with just me and Viki working on the whole decentralised space at the time. It became clear we needed to have more people. In past Mozfests, its been a team effort of Jon, Michelle, Michael, etc. However earlier in the year Jon told me he wasn’t spacerangling this year. Jasmine had stepped back from spacerangling last year anyway, so I thought long and hard about what people would be ideal. This was all during working out the call for participation. I asked a few other people and luckily 3 out of the 5 people I asked agreed. The wrangler team now included Tim and Jon from BBC R&D, then Mark joined a bit later.
Organisation of time and space
It wasn’t easy as everyone was super busy but we made it work using lots of google docs/sheets, github, google hangout, skype, trello, etc. As I was the most experienced there was a lot of weight on my shoulders but by the time we started getting proposals in, things felt better. After the call closed, we read every single one rated and ranked them all. First cut was the travel stipend ones then the others afterwards. There was something strange that the quality of the proposals seemed to better in the middle of the call. The late & early ones seemed less thoughtful.
The months moved on and we slowly cut the list down to 44 proposals. By September there was a lot of logistics work including working out where everything was going to fit (we had selected far too much). We ended up with 3 talk (learning) spaces, 2 workshop (shed) spaces and 1 gallery space; 6 things happening in parallel just in the decentralised space alone. It was going to be tricky but I thought we can manage it with 5 spacewranglers. Unfortunately Viki couldn’t make it but at the last minute Jon convinced 2 trainees from BBC R&D (Kristine & Kristian) to join us, without them it would have been near impossible, very thankful for their help and stepping in at the last minute. If there wasn’t enough challenges, our commissioned artist (Archana Prasad) also ended up not coming from India due to illness. This made us scramble a little to come up with an overall theme to fit, which was the one thing which I knew we didn’t do such a great job on as previous years (the library) & (ethical dilemma cafe)
Mozfest this year tried something quite different from previous years. Instead of the weekend festival in Ravensbourne alone, they hosted a week long of events at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). The events were very varied and the space was opened as a co-working space all weekend. This seemed to be very fitting with the RSA’s own plans for a 21st century coffee house?
I also attended a few other events including Mel’s slidedesign and the glassroom which I wrote about already, it was also a good time to arrange meetings with people including Nesta. Later in the week, spacewrangler duties increased meaning more time at Ravensbourne oppose to the Mozhouse, this means I could only attend the first part of the databox event. But I was able to capture the interchange between Nottingham Uni (Databox) and York Uni (OBM engine). The conversation at the table in Mozhouse will have big consequences for the living room project and more.
Mozhouse was a very good idea and I think with more events using up the space, it could really add something different to Mozfest.
Mozfest is always something you are not totally sure will work but it always does. The space was tight but my gut reaction of the layout was just about right. We squeezed in 6 spaces and it wasn’t so bad, although talk space 3’s intimacy was a little lost sadly.
This year Mozilla used Slack to bring conversations with spacewranglers and session owners together, it kind of worked but there was some missed/dropped conversations between slack, github and emails. There was a discussion about Mozfest using the centralised Slack service oppose to decentralised systems like matrix and mattermost, but it was a matter of practicality at the time. Maybe next year Matrix could be be the host? Sure Matrix must have a feature some serious dataportability features.
The reason why I mention Matrix, is I was seriously impressed with the Matrix people. They really got the while Mozfest thing and setup Matrix node (a mini PC) over the course of the festival weekend. It ran for most of the weekend and was perfectly timed for their session. As it was federated, when the PC did hit a problem, the other Matrix servers took on the processing instantly.
Some of the highlights included when Storj labs failed to turn up and having to announce to a busy audience of people this fact. I said people could leave as the session facilitator was no where to be seen, or they could talk between themselves. Of course being Mozfest, the expert audience started talking and 40mins later they were still talking and Mich Baker had joined the conversation. This sums up the emergent nature of Mozfest, spacewranglers are simply constructing the environment for this all to happen.
Another few sessions were cancelled including the much wanted connected world of music, which I had planned straight after Kristian’s Smart Blockchain Indie Film Distribution, and the Internet Of Things. Another well attended interactive session with lots of questions and discussion asking the expert audience again instead of speaking at them. Very happy we were able to host the session as we seeked out using decentralised solutions on existing problems rather than just talking about the underlying technology.
Another good non-technical session I poked my head into but knew would be good when choosing it was the co-op talk. On the face of it some might ask whats that got to do with decentralisation? But it fitted the wider theme of power and distributed and federated power.
Although we did have some sessions which were about the technology too. One example was host your data on the peer to peer web with Dat. I walked through the session a few times and was quite enjoying it and wish I could have attended the whole thing.
Let’s Keep Our Chat Local was the Matrix session and although waking back and forth, I caught enough to learn quite a bit about Matrix service. Earlier that week I had installed riot.im app on my Android tablet and through-out the week finally got myself on the server.
To prove the power of Matrix, they had already setup a bridge to the #decentralized slack channel and made it super easy to talk between the services. On top of all this, I saw audio/video messaging over matrix, something around VR and other very cool things. I took away the need to investigate more, and maybe consider using it for decentralised dating?
Spacewrangling for Mozfest again was really good and maybe slightly less stressful except the unexpected surprises near the end. I think we got a real nice balance of topics through-out the decentralised spectrum. From general interest to deep rooted knowledge, everyone was catered for making decentralisation interesting to everyone. Next time, I would work harder on the theming because although the theming and navigation was mixed together, in retrospective we could have set this much earlier and included the likes of databox project into the experience. I was impressed with the diversity of speakers and audience. There was a deep fear we would end up with all white men and actively worked hard to make sure this wasn’t the case.
The night parties at Mozfest have always been great and the Saturday night one was good but I did prefer the creepy one in 2016, however I know immersive theatre isn’t everyone’s bag. The venue of Mozhouse/RSA was great and it would have been great to throw some more of the rooms open to others to do things like host a game of werewolf (for example).
We had hoped to secure someone from the decentralised space to play at Mozhouse but it didn’t happen. However on the Sunday night party, I did get to DJ on my pacemaker like previous earlier Mozfests. Unfortunately I didn’t record the mix but I can assure you it was really good and got quite a few people dancing.
Thank you to all!
I want to thank the wrangler team Viki, Jon T, Tim C, Mark B, Kristine and Kristian. Sarah A, Erika D, Marc, Emse, Dan R, Solana, Sam B, all the other spacewranglers, Ravensbourne’s staff including Claire, our decentralised sessions owners who did a excellent job through all the chaos.
The attitude and spirit of the session was higher than ever before. It might be the fact they could talk beforehand via Slack or something else? Even with the challenging emergent environment, imagine doing a large 50+ people session about digital colonialism with no chairs! This happened and we/they made it all work regardless.
Lastly I’d like to thank the audience who attended this excellent festival and attended a lot of the decentralisation space. The engagement was higher than last year and rightly so, the work we put into getting a balanced set of talks worked out very well.
If it was just Mozfest, it would be great but add the glassroom exhibit and #Mozhouse and you got something much closer to the impressive festivals like TOA Berlin and SxSW. The extra days before the festival really elevated it beyond previous years and likely kept the festival base in London for the foreseeable future?
I have been a fan of Firefox for a long time and heck, I’ve given plenty of time to Mozilla through the Mozilla Festival over the years. I would regularly use Firefox & Chrome back to back on my Ubuntu laptop, but only firefox on my server (its been the default for Ubuntu for years). Tended to use Chrome for Google type operations like Docs, Spreadsheet, Mindmup, etc. But I started using the Firefox beta after the word got passed around that version 57 (Quantium) was a total rewrite.
Once I tried it, I was blown away! Tweeting…
Wow @mozilla@firefox Quantium is flipping fast! Also picked up my profile from the same machine no problem
I was so impressed that it picked up my profile, passwords, sync, everything; even when running it from a totally different location. It meant I could just run it and use it – and why not? Its that fast and smooth. There were some addons/extentions which didnt work but most of them I uninstalled when I switch Firefox 53 to multi-threaded mode, so I was already running it pretty lean.
It was all good…as I could switch to old firefox easily enough by just loading that one no problem, not that I did.
It was during Mozfest time, when I got a email asking if it would be ok for Mozilla to use my tweet in a special New York Times double page spread they were planning on launch day. Of course I said sure thinking not much more about it except remembering the moment when Firefox 1.0 launched with the name of all the backers.
It had slipped my mind this was actually going to happen and frankly was quite proud to be one of only seven quoted. Its also not like it was misquoted! I’m acutally writing this blog from my hotel room on Firefox 57 right now. Its still not default yet (firefox 56 currently is), but expecting it will be very soon once Ubuntu update the distro.
I can’t really give it justice but I did take some pictures which are good starting points. Theres a nice summary of all the exhibits here. Here are the ones which stuck out in my mind.
The Alphabet Empire
All the different sub-companies which fit under the Alphabet (Google) megacorp, there’s so many you needed a magnify glass to see them all.
This physical infographic compared the amount of money Apple accumulated in offshore accounts against the amount of money the UK and EU governments spent on various things in 2016. Really interesting to see the BBC’s total budget of £4.8bn totally eclipsed by Apples tax bill.
These paper kits are whats meant to help you clean up and take more control over your personal data. As previously said, I found them interesting as they are simple and effective like a Ikea manual and I’ll be interesting to hear how my sister got on with her data detoxing.
How Long Does It Take to Read Amazon Kindle’s Terms and Conditions?
Australian consumer advocacy group Choice hired an actor to read all 73,198 words of Amazon Kindle’s Terms and Conditions. It took just shy of 9 hours and the video of all that time illustrates exactly how much time you would give up to fully understand what you are agreeing to. The other interesting point is the frustration and doubts the actor has while reading it aloud, especially later in the agreement.
Data Production Labour
By the Institute of Human Obsolescence, this is what I blogged about previously. I found it fascinating to see it working. Basically you put your phone down in front of a camera and scan through your facebook timeline. As I don’t have Facebook on my phone, I scanned through my Twitter friends timeline which I hardly ever do. After 2 mins, the results of your activity are fed back to you in a receipt print out. I think of it like clickclickclick but there is something quite powerful about using your own phone and something you might do all the time.
That whole of idea of smell based dating will never die and this exhibit was oddly placed but I wanted to give it a try as it was causing a bit of a fuss. It would be good to see the results over the course of a day or week, but even watching the woman and man before me had some very different results from me.
A data-day in London
Good little summary of all the points when we have to make a decision to agree with their terms and conditions, during a typical day in London. Really interesting to read through.
Visually querying yourself was interesting but didn’t do a good job on me at all. A friend thought it would pick up photos of myself but it didn’t happen. Instead I got a lot of low results for Kanye West. It seemed to work much better for others.
Other notable exhibits were Tor Access Point, Facebook Algorithmic Factory, The listener and Unfit bits.
Unfortuanlly by the time you read this, it would have closed its doors but I look forward to seeing more of this type of exhibit.
There so much talk about Facebook and other west coast megacorps (the 5 stacks) listening in on our conversations. To be fair its part of the reason why I don’t like Whatsapp who own and can do what ever they like to the metadata of your conversations. It’s all become a bit of an urban legend, but to be fair the megacorps are doing an incredibly bad job explaining how things are happening (little to no transparency, but to be fair it’s not fitting with their business model).
You can look & listen to the rising concern the public have around their privacy; and the increasing number of stories. I you can’t help but think maybe there is a change coming? Or at least I’d like to think so… but its clear there is a lack of understanding of data by the general public.
“One of the things that Facebook can do is if you like something, it can advertise that thing to your friends. So the brother-in-law obviously signaled to Facebook that he was into white supremacy somehow, and Charles’ friend was liking a lot of the guy’s posts, and they were friends on Facebook, so Facebook was like, “Alright, well, why don’t I advertise this white supremacist stuff to you.”
This is hard to show and demonstrate without going; without going all black mirror or someones eyes glazing over. In my experience when talking about data most people shrug and say things like, “nothing to hide.”
During Mozfest this year I got the chance to walk around the Glass Room on Charing Cross Road, with the people at the ingenious bar giving out data detox kits. The kits are interesting because it’s aimed at a mass audience and the advice although simple is generally useful. I also found some of the installations good, especially the one where you are swiping through your facebook timeline (it was twitter for me) and 2 mins later, given a printed receipt of your work. (Funny enough, it felt like a lot longer than 2mins but then again, its not really the thing I do regularlly)
We certainly need more of this!
Hopefully more of these public interjections will start to move the discussion on from urban legends to a proper informed discussion about ethical data use. I believe FB and others are capitalising on the general public ignorance and its got to stop.
I realize it seems trivial to people thinking only of press freedom, but romance and sexuality are a huge part of human existence. Almost all major dating sites are owned by a single company (Match.com). It’s an area that requires privacy and gradual disclosure. Open dating systems are fascinating — posting one or more profiles on the open web in a way that preserves your privacy but allows gradual disclosure and connection.
Evan’s slides had a lot in it but as there was a lot to cover, there wasn’t enough time for much discussion. On top of that, when talking about personal & sensitive topics, it sometimes takes time for people to warm up and join the discussion.
We had more discussion and although it doesn’t seem like it from the photo, had quite a few people joining. It was good to finally have that critical discussion about not just the technical make up of online dating but its good and bad effects on society and the core of our identity.
This will mean the usual warning of being busy and not really replying in a timely fashion (what ever that really means).
Some will look at this list and say “ohhhh check you out… lucky devil!”
My reply is yes I am grateful (my gratitude habit) that I can go to these amazing places, but even more that I will get the opportunity to talk to new people (audiences, future producers and maybe potentially co-creators). There are some amazing research projects in the pipeline, stuff that once again makes me very excited.
An amazing well loved colleague recently died. It was a shock but further reminds me and hopefully others our time is finite; We need to spend it doing what we love and making positive things happen. Inspire others to do the same and find their inner geekness.
Its always the case that on the run up to a deadline, things go a little nuts and every year Mozfest proposals are the same. I have already made calls for people to submit proposals in the past and we have got some very interesting proposals through including one which has really got me going.
So you have 2 and a bit days to submit a proposal for the decentralized space still, what should you do?
Find something which hasn’t been mentioned or a unique take on a existing concept. For example if you submit another what is blockchain talk, its highly likely to be dropped.(I do find it ironic no one has linked decentralization with net neutrality for example. We actually have no talks about this important issue)
Submit your proposal! It doesn’t need to be complete, it can even be a placeholder to something unique and wonderful. Its also worth bearing in mind theres 3 types of sessions (workshop/talk, hackspace and gallery space). We are on the look out for things which can run for longer periods of time than just a hour too.
Think if you really need a travel stipend. This is usually a big filter as we only have a few and only give it to those who really really need it. London is expensive but maybe theres a way to use Airbnb or Couchsurfing? I would also point out South East London hotels are far cheaper than central London hotels. Transport to North Greenwich is also less bad too.
I would also say most of this applies to the other spaces too…
Work can be thought of being two overlapping spheres: the personal and the organizational. Organizations are becoming looser because there is a need for increased agility. This translates into what I call the 3D workforce: decentralized, distributed, and discontinuous. Decentralization increases autonomy of sub-organizations and individuals. Distributed work means both distributed in space but also an increasing reliance on freelancers and partner companies linked in cooperative networks. And discontinuous because we are constantly lifeslicing and workslicing – shifting from one project to another ten times over the course of a day, working wherever we are, and blurring the distinction between work and non-work. This has changed everything in our personal sense of work, and is leading us to have more connections, but of weaker strength, which may sound bad but it isn’t.
This is the kind of thing we are after… the effects on people, places, society not just the tech.
If you have any questions please reach out to us the team running the decentralization space on twitter or via github.