MozFest 2018 Round-Up

(Photo by @pinotconoir)

On Sunday we celebrated the close of another fantastic MozFest — a collaborative celebration of the web and our collective work for internet health. It all seemed to past by in flash, from a warm-up week packed with workshops and events at MozFest House…

To the moment lanyards were donned on Friday night for an amazing Science Fair, chock-full of discovery …

…through a whirlwind of sessions, speakers, inspired conversations, cups of coffee shared and stairs climbed….

… to the closing party and our farewells for the year.

But the MozFest journey actually began months ago, in April, when our team of volunteer Space Wranglers gathered in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, to begin to plan and shape the festival experience.

Their vision — as interpreted, remixed, and realized by hundreds of facilitators and participants — became MozFest 2018 (you can learn more about this unique process here). The 2018 MozFest spaces and experiences were a result of months of conversations and explorations, come to fruition over two action-packed days. And woven throughout sessions, talks, and experiences, was our theme 2018 “Data Done Right” uncovering the implications of data in the health of the Internet, and how we can take control of our data, our online lives, and our collective future.

In the Decentralisation Space, participants were invited to imagine the futuristic world of Xenshana, a place where data is power, power is respectfully and equally distributed, and communities make their own rules. Sessions conducted under the banner of Dzivaguru, Xenshana’s rainbow serpent deity, were as varied as “#SmashingThePatriarchy101: Dismantle social injustice via Decentralisation” and “Offgrid connections: from the South Pacific to Mars.

A colorful, welcoming gate marked the entrance of the Web Literacy space, where participants were treated to a variety of sessions designed to help them understand and harness the power of today’s Internet, such as “Web Literacy for the Deaf” and “Dr. JavaScript or How I learned to Stop Worrying and embraced JS.

The classic cartoon Spy vs Spy inspired the Privacy and Security Space, as mustachioed wranglers in mysterious hats set the tone to explore topics like threat modeling, psychometric profiling, and mobile tracking. Participants dove into a range of sessions, from “How to disguise data in a context of ubiquitous surveillance” to “Design for renaming”.

Afternoon tea parties were the perfect place to chat, connect, and hear new perspectives in the Digital Inclusion Space. And participants relaxed in collaboratively-created, brightly decorated geodesic dome-tents after enjoying sessions such as “Make Prosthetic Hands: Where the Open Web Touches and Heals the World” and “Murales digitales de aprendizaje” a session conducted entirely in Spanish with a group of participants from across South and Central America.

Puzzles and games were the theme in the Openness Space, from Find-A-Word to Openness Jenga to a collaborative data display built from contributed cubes. Sessions in this space included “Build your own Citizen Observatory — A ‘CookBook’ for Air Q, Water Q, Land Use & Biodiversity monitoring” and “Creating a Culture of Data Consciousness with Endangered Data Week”.

(photo by @pinotconoir)

The Youth Zone this year featured a multi-use drop-in Chill Space, complete with comfy beanbags and boardgames. Youth dropped by to make and craft freely throughout the weekend, or catch a lightning talk or two. And, of course, we had our full program of sessions, including a number of youth-led workshops such as “Haunted Houses With Google SketchUp” and “Build your own Minecraft hut by coding.”

The Art+Data experience included an amazing gallery of works, from an audio installation exploring the sounds of creative collaboration to a small town in Wisconsin, USA that exists only on the internet. The gallery was also home to an interactive workshop where participants gathered to embroider concepts describing our digital commons. And throughout the festival our roaming illustrator Ivano Talamo documented the event. For more on Art+Data, see this post.

An exciting new addition to the Festival this year was the Queering Experience, where participants connected to consider how internet issues intersect with gender and sexuality. While Queering sessions like “Queer Communities, Civic Technology, and Open Data” and “A feminist call to action: Build the (menstruation) tech you want” appeared in Spaces across the festival, the Queering home base welcomed participants with a huge, selfie-worthy inflatable unicorn, and an invitation to engage in collaborative art-making and performance.

Threading throughout the entire weekend and across all spaces was the Tracked role playing game experience, where players, both the “Tracker” and “User,” developed innovative strategies to control data as they modeled the flow of personal information across the internet.

All weekend long we gathered to hear a variety of speakers take the stage in our Dialogue and Debate series, featuring panels like “AI’s Collateral Damage” and “Who Controls the Internet?” And we were excited to welcome special guest and internet originator Tim Berners-Lee, a surprise last-minute addition to our roster. All talks were recorded — check them out here!

While MozFest weekend is over, of course the projects and ideas go on… and on and on. You can continue to explore the sessions you loved — and those you missed — on Guidebook and GitHub, where you may find facilitators have posted session documentation. Even if you weren’t at the festival, feel free to dive in, research ideas that resonate, and reach to to session facilitators and project leads.

The MozFest spirit of welcoming, openness, and collaboration doesn’t end with the Festival — we’ll bring it with us as we continue to work toward a healthier internet, together.

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