Ann Marie Carrothers from Mozilla is absolutely right, its something I have mentioned many times and recently decided enough is enough. Weirdly I have never had the discussion with Ann-Marie in person?
I avoid all dating apps and services which don’t allow me to search my own way through the people. I’m so sick of the systems forcing one way of interacting usually the tinder swiping.
For example OKCupid on the mobile app won’t allow you to search for people who use geeks in there profile. I can hear people say, “why on earth would you want this?!”
I’m personally not interested in generic people, I’m after unique people.
Instead of searching through millions of profiles, why not cut through noise by finding someone who cares enough to add it to their profile? For example geek with my other filters in the website (like gender, age, distance, etc) got down to two women.
My search for feminism got down to one woman.
Its not for everyone but thats fine, because the notion of swiping left and right looking at profile pictures isn’t for everybody either.
At the start of March, the Mozilla Festival 2021 started for 2 weeks of Mozfest joy. Unlike previous years this was the year it went completely virtual. There was a lot of concerns how it would work in a virtual space? But we didn’t need to worry, it kinda worked.
I got a early bird ticket so the schedule was opened up to people like me. It was extensive and downloaded all the calendar events for sessions I was interested in. Unfortunately I missed the book a seat part and when I went back weeks later most of it was booked up (my own fault).
The Mozilla team worked very hard to keep the feel of Mozfest with a central place to start (the Plaza), the schedule with all the sessions, a number of social spaces (Mozilla slack and spacial chat), skill shares everyday and art/media tracks running throughout the whole 2 weeks. It was full on, just like Mozfest always has been. Its FOMA overload, but don’t worry there is a help desk – which seemed to be almost 24hours a day via slack.
I did go into a couple spacial chats and check out a skill share but most of my time was sat on zoom and many miro boards during sessions. To be honest I have a love hate relationship with miro but I finally got around to half liking it once I spent time with it for my own session. I did find miro bugging me to signup kind of annoying however.
One shame this year was the Mozhouse events seemed to be dropped from the schedule. This meant the publicspaces conference was missed from the schedule, although it was scheduled around Mozfest months ago. The festival has always been a big magnet for people and the 3rd party events which sit around the festival for example 2 years ago.
Because Mozfest was over 2 weeks, I paced myself and made the decision to carve out time for the festival. It was a good idea as my working hours were running to about 10hrs a day. Luckily most of the sessions had a hour break between them, allowing time to catch up with emails, slack and other work stuff.
Sessions ran from a early 7am – a late 11pm GMT, hopefully catching a lot of countries around the world. I imagine over that 14hours, only New Zealand might have been tricky to attend sessions?
I left project immerse to the very last day and was my last Mozfest event I did. Lance Weller blew my mind with things I have never seen Miro or Zoom do before. The future of immersive virtual theatre, I reckon so? I wish I could blog about it but I don’t want to spoil it. Lance also has a ongoing virtual show which I’m signed up to for April. It was fantastic end to 2 weeks of the Mozilla festival.
The 2 weeks of Mozfest was great. It was a shame some of the sessions which claimed to be full were not. I noticed this changed a little bit later but I missed the social aspect, which slack and spacial chat just doesn’t cover. I quite liked the vibe of BarCampManchester 10 which could be done if narrowed down by the spaces. I noticed Creative AI had aspects of this but its something which could apply more widely if next year is the same?
There is a question which came in 2017 when Mozilla picked Slack over Matrix & Mattermost (which they were using internally). The questions comes up again, about using Zoom, Miro, Slack, etc. Like the publicspaces conference, balancing the practicalities with the values is hard work. But maybe next year if its virtual/hybrid, Mozilla could really lead the charge here.
When I first knew it was going to be 2 weeks (well really 12 days), I gulped but it worked out well. I never felt rushed and having most of the sessions recorded is super handy, as I’m finding now watching the ones I missed (plus I found the youtube secret playlist which means I can easily watch them back on my chromecast). Not every session was recorded of course and its a little strange when the breakout sessions happen. Ideally the recording should have been paused but the whole festival is community focused and I’m happy its not clean cut because that would have gone against the ethos of the Mozilla Festival.
Talking about the community, it was great to see a minimal amount of sillyness/zoombombing. Also the welcoming of so many different people, cultures, languages, etc. This was also the year when neurodiversity really kicked into high gear!
Where does the festival go from now, is a big question…
I’d like to see a hybrid conference next year. I certainly want to see a combination of the reach of Mozfest 2021 with the social parts of the last 10 years. However, please Mozilla keep the pretext system as it worked so well and hopefully we can finally have a permanent record of all the sessions over the years (one of the things I quite liked about using Github)
Massive thanks to everyone who made the virtual festival so good (especially looking at you Sarah & Mark!). Those working behind the scenes making sure things run smoothly. To all those spacewranglers who likely didn’t know if it was going to be in person, hybrid or virtual. Of course all those people who ran the sessions.
Really making good on ethos of… Arrive with an idea, leave with a community!
Ian thinks: Douglas Rushkoff’s monologue about gamestop needs a listen for a different view, but stay around for the interview with Yaël, previous head of political advertising at Facebook. She tells all and I like the approach of trying to fix it before criticising.
Ian thinks: Shareting is when parents share their kids photos and private information without their consent. Its become a real problem now the millennials are growing up with a digital footprint without knowing.
Ian thinks: Hearing about the absolute mess over news in Australia, its easy to point fingers. But its important to look deeper at whats really happening for the sake of profits not people. I’m with Shoshana Zuboff and others, but I know many people get their news from these massive corps.
Ian thinks: The Uber case is great news but in a similar legal play to Facebook & Google with Australia, there might be more going on that most are reporting? We got to look a little deeper as monopoly is Uber’s end game.
Ian thinks: This is a devious way to force a take-down of a live stream or any recorded footage. Theres got to be a better way and I think its related to using alternative platforms or self hosting with syndication.
Ian thinks: I like this summary of so many of the problems with Facebook, but it misses the important point of centralisation. It also highlights Noam Cohen’s quote “Mark Zuckerberg is deluded by his own faith in Facebook’s ability to be a force for good in the world”
Ian thinks: Mariana is on fire and this summary of work around the BBC puts value under a microscope. I love this line “Value is not just the income generated at the end of the innovation chain–– it is also the creative input at the upstream end, the vital investment in talent, content creation, digital innovation and R&D at the early stages”
I can finally tell you two of my three submitted sessions were accepted. The big one is a workshop around adaptive podcasting which will happen Monday 15th at 2015-2115 GMT. Don’t worry there is calendar invites for all the sessions including mine.
Ian thinks: Mozilla’s well researched look at the state of the internet is a one of those reports which spurs thought and action for the coming year. Its been a tricky year with lots of up and downs, nicely documented in this massively detailed report/playbook. You might recognise someone in the report.
Ian thinks: The post has quite a few errors within it, like how they keep referring to Mastodon as a single network and missed the memo how Gab removed themselves off Mastodon. BlueSky sounds only slightly interesting, but the core of this post is focused around the risk of extreme groups using decentralised technology.
Ian thinks: Although this well written paper focuses on public service broadcasting, I would consider the wider question of publicservice full stop. Its clear the likes of Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, Facebook etc are aiming to replace public utilities Of course I think so but publicservice needs to double down on things which break silicon valley
Ian thinks: Well its about time, but expect more E2E and Zero-knowledge buzz words to be thrown around this year. Question will always be, are they actually doing what they say they are? Looking at you Zoom.
It was a great conference but unfortunately it never was written up. Its a real shame but you can understand with all the build up to the coming pandemic. So I thought it would be worth writing something short at least because it was enjoyable and full of great speakers.
Rachel talked about the importance of public value, what’s at stake if we leave it to the market and the notion of just enough internet, which I mentioned previously. It was great keynote and really kicked off the day of panel talks in the right manor. Its still a shame doteveryone is no more.
Rhianne started the session with a look at the new forms of value work in R&D before Jeni and Katja followed in discussion with a look at the challenges facing the industry in which public controlled data can be ethically and unethically used.
Bill kicked off the conversation looking at the important issue of inequality with Laura and Isobel looking at it from their points of view. All very enlightening with the different views coming together into we can all do better.
Paulien kicked off the last session with a look at Publicspaces,net and their projects including the badges project. Ira followed up by exploring the notion of publicservice networking through the Redecentralize organisation. Alexandra then followed with her experience looking at the internet of things with a more ethical lens.
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.
Ian thinks: Cory pretty much covers Surveillance Capitalism but then turns to focus on the problem of monopolies as the heart of the problem. He’s got a real point which he builds very nicely on throughout this free book. I know Cory’s kickstarter for the next little brother book could do with some support too.
Ian thinks: This sums up a lot of the issues people have with technology today by seeking to empowering people, focus on privacy by design, increase legibility and avoiding lock-in. Its version 0.1, and can learn more in their talk.
Ian thinks: Its always refreshing to hear important discussions in different places. Citizenship discussed on the guilty feminists podcast is a mix of fun and deeper conversations. Well worth listening to, always but especially this one.
Ian thinks: Mozilla are regulars in my public service internet notes and for good reason. The Social Media Analysis Toolkit (SMAT) could be extremely powerful to shine a light on the social dilemma we all face looking at in our timelines. On a related note is data futures lab launch.
Ian thinks: This paper really sets out the problems of the current mainstream internet. Platform building opposed to open protocols which everybody can use. Its well thought out and substantial in its arguments.
Ian thinks: Its fascinating to hear about the unsolved puzzle of shadow brokers who sold NSA surveillance tools on the open market. Another reason why government encryption back-doors are such a bad idea.
Ian thinks: There is a lot of scepticism about crypto technology but I found this video from Crypto startup school, useful looking at the direction and focus of the actual applications which currently exist. The questions are pretty intruding too.
Ian thinks: Seeing the charts on how Covid-19 has changed our use of the internet is quite telling and could be a forecast for the post Covid-19 future? I’d like to see different countries than just America of course.
Ian thinks: Its impressive to see genuine smart and sustainable world changing ideas all lined up together (here is 2019). They deserve so much more attention than some of the junk some other CEOs tweet.
Ian thinks: Hearing Cory talk about corruption, monopoly in the midsts of the covid19 pandemic; sounds like the perfect start for his next science fiction book. Or maybe like Charlie Brooker said about Black Mirrror, its all just too real right now.
Ian thinks: There are many startups which grow to a point they could be better off state/public owned. If France do go ahead with their own Airbnb, it could be a blueprint of what or not to do for the future. Silicon Valley will make a point of saying this is why Europe isn’t financially competitive of course.
Ian thinks: Matt and many others have been talking about an ethical guide for public service media for a while. Now its launched theres a lot to learn and like about the approach taken. Really interesting timing with doteveryone closing its doors.
Ian thinks: I haven’t seen a better way of explaining how important the Crispr revolution is and ultimately the concept of programmable genes. (here is nature review ) if you can’t access it elsewhere.
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.
Ian thinks: Lancaster University’s take of the living room of the future is quite something. Really getting into the meat of the smart home data ethics conversation in a fun, accessible but critical way. Look out for their next research
Ian thinks:stealingurfeelin.gs is in a similar vein to do not track, Mozilla expose the effects of facial recognition which the big corps hide in their EULA’s. One reason why I’ve never willingly used snap chat ever.
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…