Apply for a workshop/space with us at Mozfest 2014


There are a number of connected things in my head right now, maybe I should learn how to do hyper-connected mind-maps to make more sense of these different ideas.

Mozilla has gone through a lot over the years, specially in the last few months with Brendan Eich. However its trying to make a mead for its self by sticking true to its core values, this they call the Mozilla Manifesto.

The Mozilla project is a global community of people who believe that openness, innovation, and opportunity are key to the continued health of the Internet. We have worked together since 1998 to ensure that the Internet is developed in a way that benefits everyone. We are best known for creating the Mozilla Firefox web browser.

The Mozilla project uses a community-based approach to create world-class open source software and to develop new types of collaborative activities. We create communities of people involved in making the Internet experience better for all of us.

As a result of these efforts, we have distilled a set of principles that we believe are critical for the Internet to continue to benefit the public good as well as commercial aspects of life. We set out these principles below.

The goals for the Manifesto are to:

  1. articulate a vision for the Internet that Mozilla participants want the Mozilla Foundation to pursue;

  2. speak to people whether or not they have a technical background;

  3. make Mozilla contributors proud of what we’re doing and motivate us to continue; and

  4. provide a framework for other people to advance this vision of the Internet.

Well meaning stuff and the principles go even further, but its worth noting a few things I have observed recently which I feel the Mozilla Manifesto could be a good place to start from.

Dan Hon in his talk at TedXLiverpool talked about Epiphany in technology. There was a phrase I heard him talk about which was Humans as a service. This isn’t a new concept but its getting talked about in few places right now.

Airbnb are modern versions of housing clouds delivering housing as a service, and similarly, Zipcar and Uber are car clouds, offering consumers transportation as a service. Anything can be clouded, if we put our minds to it.

Yes even humans can be a service. You only have to look at Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and to a lesser extend Taskrabbit (both which are not available in the UK or Europe because of EU labor laws, something worth remembering). Ultimately this is all leading to dehumanising
experiences which leaves us humans in the cold and the algorithms in control. As Dan said, the systems and algorithms are so complex we dare not question, we just go with it.

Now lets dig into to Mozilla’s manifesto principles…

The Internet must enrich the lives of individual human beings.

Individuals must have the ability to shape the Internet and their own experiences on the Internet.

Transparent community-based processes promote participation, accountability and trust

Magnifying the public benefit aspects of the Internet is an important goal, worthy of time, attention and commitment.

Where does Humans as a Service fit into these principles? No where I would argue.

Another lens…

The ethics of personal data is something I wrote about on the BBC R&D blog a  while back. Most of these principles tie into ethical problems with the silicon valley style of running a business. Another thing I highlighted in my online dating talk from Primeconf and Adrian Hon touched upon in his talk from TedXLiverpool.

The notion of continues growth, growing fast and money as the ultimate metric is very much Silicon Valley bubble dreams which frankly I would rather not be a part of. I would suggest its slightly anti-human in nature?

Ok ok... so I’ve said all this but what can you do about it?

This is a call to arms, myself, Jon Rogers, Jasmine Cox and others are spacewranglers for the Mozilla Fest this year. Under the banner, Open Web with Things

Here’s some of themes I’m thinking (not necessarily the group).

Its not simply Internet of Things, but rather a web with things included. Those things can be digital, analogue and even humans. I’m thinking

  • Looking at the moral and ethical aspects raised by things
  • Considering the human aspect in (the Internet of) things
  • Morals and ethical aspects raised by things
  • Personal data ethics
  • Ethics in Internet of Things
  • Human friendly wearable policies
  • Storytelling with things in the time of moores law (grabbed that from Dan Hon)

Sound exciting? Sound like something you should be involved in?

Yes it does and if you got an idea for a session or workshop which fits our general trajectory? You should tell us about it here. The best ones we will pick and they will take place in our space along with other related workshops.

If you don’t know anything about Mozilla Festival you can find my thoughts here and learn much more here. Or feel free to get in touch with me… You got till August 22nd. So what you waiting for? Get thinking and writing.

TedXLiverpool does Liverpool proud


I do love a good TedX and theres been some good ones this year. But I really like the ones which are more representative of the local area or local concerns. They tend to bring new people to the stage and new ideas, and you know how much I love diversity of ideas. TedXLiverpool is one such one TedX.

There is something about Liverpool… I can’t put my finger on it but everyone I know who is from there seems to absolutely love it. It does seem like a interesting place with a similar history to Bristol. There are other similarities like 2 football teams which seem to divide the city. The things I don’t really like is the transport links between Liverpool and Manchester. The last train back from Liverpool to Manchester seems to be 2320 and is the slowest train you’ve seen. Not only that the first train to Liverpool for TedXLiverpool was 8:10 which is shocking even for a Sunday. Anyhow the point is, I hardly get a chance to really experience Liverpool.

So enough grumbling about the transport (although I did get a ticket for my scooter too). Marie tried to convince me to sign up to TedXLiverpool during the last Thinking Digital and I kinda said maybe but as the line up grew and grew, it was having Adrian and Dan Hon both speaking which got me to plonk down the money for a early bird ticket. Although they were not talking together, having them both in the same venue was enough.

Myself and the Hon's

Later it was announced Sir Ken Roberson would be joining the TedXLiverpool line up and the tickets went overnight. I’ll be honest and say I was sitting pretty with my tickets confirmed. Don’t get me wrong the hearing Sir Ken talking was like having a double cherry on the top of a great cake. And I haven’t even started on the fantastic venue of the Everyman theater. Everything was lining up to be a special day.

Everything seemed smooth and before you knew it, Adrian Hon took to the floor. When I say floor I literary mean floor. The everyman theatre has a floor with the audience covering 3/4’s of it. There is no where to hide, no podium, just the speaker and some props. The space outside in the lobby area was long and had a nice long balcony. If I had not seen the Royal Exchange in Manchester, I would say it was one of the finest theaters I had seen.

So what about those speakers? Everybody was great but in my usual style he’s my favorite speakers.  Sir Ken Robinson , Graham Hughes, Adrian Hon, Homebaked Anfield, Nigel Ward, Dan Hon and Hayley Parkes.

Sir Ken Roberson

Sir Ken was incredible and although he never actually did a talk for 18mins. He was interviewed by Herb Kim on the sofa with a massive TEDdy (get it) sat next to him. Teddy was unfortunately right between myself and Sir Ken. However it was amazing to hear him answer questions about his famous TED talk. In the 3rd section of TEDxLiverpool, Sir Ken took over from Herb presenting and riffing between the last lot of speakers. Then just when you think it can’t be better, after Mike Southon. Sir Ken riff on the fly for about 5-10mins. I was scrabbling around my mind map making notes. Diversity of thoughts, amazement of life, belief in human endeavor, reliance on academic endeavor and much much more was talked about.

Graham Hughes

I have wrote about Graham so many times from when I first met him at Thinking Digital. He kind of inspired me to head to Tokyo and he’s now urging me to go visit him in Panama! Not sure I’ll be going but thanks for the offer all the same Graham and great to hear his story is continuing forward to somewhere specially.

TedXLiverpoolAdrian Hon

Adrian, started off proceedings with a sobering talk about cowardice and courage. The points he made were spot on, as a society were rubbish at encouraging people to be bold. He talked about the white feather which was a sign of cowardice in war times, and the time for pacifism. What about taking courage in everyday life? He then put this all in the scope of whats happening with the 5 stacks we are all using now. Asking the question, have you gotten off Facebook yet? What would it take personally to get off Facebook? Facebook was simply an example which really struck home. Great talk Adrian

Dan Hon

Dan ‘s Emphany in technology was similar to his brother’s talk. Although they were quite different on the face of it. Putting the humanity into technological solutions. The problems with algorithms and business models was highlighted front and centre throughout the talk. This is something I have been thinking about a lot. After the event I got a quick chance to talk to Dan and mention how I’ve been looking at online dating with a similar lens. Great talk Dan


Homebaked is one of those little gems which you come across once in a while. Just like a lot of the other community projects I mentioned before, they just fucking did it. Co-working space, bakery and a cornerstone of the local community. Connecting the local community with new people coming into the area. I mean wow! The homebaked story was amazing and got me thinking this approach is the solution to gentrification? What can I do to help this in my area?

Peter Kenslla

I was listening to Peter talking about his history and trying to establish a restaurant in the middle of the financial crisis. It was interesting but it dawned on me almost at the end of his talk. The restaurant he was talking about was Lunya. A place I went with Jody Appleton to on the first night of our talks on BBC Merseyside. Nice restaurant and I like the view that the more terrifying it is the
more you should do it.

TedXLiverpoolHayley Parks

So great hearing Hayley again, when shes playing the piano it seems to take her to another place. Simply memorising!

TedXLiverpoolJess Gillam

Jess was a late replacement for Ameila O’Connell. She played two different saxophones and really added a Jazzy tone to the everyman theatre. Great stuff and how young? Great future beckons.

Honestly it was a hard pick to my list. Every talk was great, the ones above struck a cord with me. Adrian McEwen, Nigel Ward and  Prof. Tom Solomon were all great and deserve a mention too. Gemma Bodinetz ‘s talk about the everyman was nice, as I had no idea about the Everyman’s history.

TedXLiverpool was really impressive, and once again shows what happen when you have a good range of people not just star after star.