The Makers of MozFest — Erika Drushka
In this series of articles we take a look at MozFest from the eyes of those who make it — volunteers, staff, space wranglers, session leaders and participants. Erika Drushka is the Program Designer for the festival.
Describe your MozFest experience!
My first MozFest experience was four years ago, I was new to Mozilla and the open source community. I was absolutely struck by the feeling of being surrounded by 1,500 people from different professional, cultural and geographic backgrounds, all interested in making the web a better place for everyone.
It was, and still is, electrifying.
The festival sustains me. I work on the open web for Mozilla and it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Attending every year, connecting with the people and ideas, to see people jamming to make the internet a teeny bit better for everyone is inspiring. MozFest is a place where new ideas are born and you can really feel that, these ideas clashing, combining, burning, growing.
MozFest is a very fertile place, it’s like a ploughed field. The seeds have been planted, the first rains have come and things are going to grow.
You know people are going to make things happen. It’s a joy and a privilege to be a part of.
What motivated you to become a part of the open movement?
Someone encouraged me to apply for a job at Mozilla and I became really interested in the mission. I don’t like the idea of a few large entities controlling the internet for everyone. I grew up with the web, and you would surf from one weird website to another, to another.
The web is a much more sterile place and it doesn’t need to be. I want to bring that strangeness back.
Content platforms are great for those who want to share content but don’t want to code their own websites, and I certainly don’t want them gone, but I wish there was a viable alternative. It’s like music: Justin Bieber is popular, but there needs to be a space for the indie musicians to create the new things, and there needs to be support for their creativity.
What are your MozFest highlights?
There have been some great keynotes over the years, and when you have a great speaker talking to the right group of people it can act as a unifying force that brings people together.
My first MozFest was spent trying to learn how to MozFest properly, trying to take it all in. By my third festival, I was ready to host my first session, which was a personal highlight, and hilariously terrifying.
What I really liked was how over the years I grew as an attendee, and how the festival helped me gain the confidence to know I had something to share with others.
My session was called ‘What the heck are jobs in tech?’ I’m not a tech person, but wanted to show that you can work for a company like Mozilla and still have an impact — you don’t necessarily have to have a tech background. You can still be involved in the open web if you care about arts, science, culture, education and advocacy.
Why should people come to MozFest?
I would encourage people to come to Mozfest regardless of their level of technical skill, because there is still loads to do, and lots to learn, even if your technical skill level is zero. You can still make a powerful contribution. MozFest is a place for ideas, for philosophical questions about our privacy, about how we treat each other, citizenship on the web, and who owns content. You can just plug in and listen to, and join, these complex and interesting conversations about things that are happening day to day in our society — things that aren’t technical but more cerebral.
We own the web. The web is what we make it.
Regardless of what is happening with the platforms, no matter how much power the big players wield, the ultimate value of the web is our individual connections with each other. I have faith that no matter how big those platforms get we will find ways to subvert that technology. The web will always be ours and we will always own it. The open web movement and events like MozFest are so important to bring about change and when it comes we can burst forward again.
Describe the festival in three words
Celebrate electric inspiration.