The long-awaited Mozfest 2015 post!

As I hope you know, Mozfest 2015 took place from November 6 to November 8 2015 at Ravensbourne UK. Mozfest is organised by Mozilla, but it is not entirely about Mozilla products. Instead, it aims to get people together talking about policies Mozilla cares about as an organisation – such as being open, promoting free speech, and working against surveillance.

A quote printed on a piece of paper found in a fortune cookie. It says 'The opposite of "open" isn't closed. The opposite of "open" is "broken" - John Wilbanks @wilbanks'
The opposite of open isn’t “closed”, it’s “broken”

I was invited to Mozilla Festival as part of my new role as a Participation Leader At Global Events™. As Official™ and Important™ as that sounds, it’s really not. Being a participation leader isn’t being above others – on the contrary, it’s encouraging other people to be leaders as well. We can all lead participation, together!

 

A poster at Mozfest explaining participation leaders' role. It says "Participation leaders design for impact, mobilize action and networks, and serve to unleash Mozillian potential"
A poster at Mozfest explaining participation leaders’ role

In the participation space, there was lots of discussion of problems people face contributing. Lack of time and organisation, lack of support for non-technical projects, and the perceived very high barrier to entry were just some of these. However, there was also lots of discussions on solutions, and mainly how we – as participation leaders – can change these things.

A "candy poll" stall at Mozilla festival. The sentence "I know how to participate at Mozilla" is printed on a poster. There are two candy containers, one labelled "yes" and the other "no".
Surely, such a poll could never be skewed…

Apart from sharing ideas on how to participate, there were also practical sessions that helped defeat the notion that the barrier to entry was high, and showed people first-hand how they can be involved – as well as answered any of their questions. I ran my own session in this format, entitled “FirefoxOS app-building workshop”. It was a bigger success than imagined – we must have had about 15 participants! I kept the session very practical, making giving a very small starting tutorial on Firefox OS based on my workshop blog post. I can say that it went better than last year’s session – both in attendance and in participant satisfaction. By the end of the session, everybody had built something, which was exactly what I wanted. If you can build an app in one hour, it can’t be that hard, can it?

A poster for the session I ran at Mozfest. On the left, there is a drawing of a smart phone with "ffOS" written on the screen. On the right, the phrase "Firefox OS app-building workshop - Sunday 14:45 at 401. It's easy!" is written.
The session was far superior to my drawing skills.

 

My inspiration from the festival was to continue spreading the ‘participation bug’ to others. I want them to know how good participating is and how easy it is to get involved. As such, I really want to run a similar workshop to my previous one, or an open source hackathon/workshop in my local community, which is my goal for 2016 as a participation leader!

What do you think? Is that a good idea? What would you do?

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