Thanks to the wonderful people at Mozilla I was able to attend the fourth annual Mozilla Fest in London this past week.
With nine floors and eleven tracks I knew I would never be able to see everything, but I did arrive each day with a plan. It included sessions and activities I absolutely wanted to attend, along with a few extra things that I planned to check out if I had some extra time. Over the course of three days I made four of my planned sessions.
Oh well, I can’t say I wasn’t warned, they did tell us “Your plan is the first casualty of MozFest.” I just don’t think I quite understood how seriously true that statement was. Being at MozFest is an awful lot like being inside a living, breathing Wiki, which if you know anything about Wiki’s they can be quite chaotic due to their open source nature.
Happily, far more valuable than the sessions was time spent one-on-one with fellow Mozillians. Some of them were old friends from Hive Pittsburgh, others were friends I previously only knew from the digital realm, and still others were friends I simply hadn’t met yet. I was able to pick their brains about successes and challenges that they have encountered in their cities, but I also found myself being able to share my experience as a former member of Hive Pittsburgh and as someone who has been encountering new challenges as a new-comer to the technical education scene here in New Zealand. I know I learned a lot and would like to think that I helped others leave with new ideas as well.
The Big Idea behind my attendance at MozFest was the desire to set up Hive New Zealand. A Hive Learning Network is a third-party, non-profit entity that connects organisations to each other and to funding opportunities in the community, but it is far more than that. Hive also throws events such as Maker Party and educator evenings to help foster community and collaboration that ultimately benefits the children that we serve. I have seen the benefits to having a Hive first hand in Pittsburgh and would like to bring that spirit of collaboration here to New Zealand.
Conferences usually have swag bags, but the people behind Mozilla are more generous than most and included a free FirefoxOS phone to all attendees who wanted to receive one. Yes, Firefox, the browser you know and love, is now an operating system for mobile phones.
What does this mean for the future of mobile computing? Glad you asked, disembodied voice! It means that we have the freedom of choice, for too long our options have been Apple or Android. FirefoxOS is the Linux of the mobile community. It is completely open source which means that you have just as much say in your operating system as the people at Mozilla. It is also created by many people all over the world using HTML5 and open Web standards, with out all the restrictions and limitations of proprietary mobile operating systems. Together Seth and I plan to explore the programming and educational potential of this new device and hopefully create some cool apps in the process. We will keep you posted.
Mozilla Fest may be over until next year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved and help shape the web. Mozilla has many opportunities for people to contribute to the community, no matter your interest and skill level there is probably something for you. My personal favourite is Webmaker where you can create and remix websites and teaching kits, but maybe you are more interested in science, community building, or even art. Check out mozilla.org/contribute to find your place on the web.