Mozilla Global Sprint Is an Event for Everyone

During the recent Mozilla Global Sprint hundreds (900ish) of people from around the world came together in person and virtually to share expertise, build on ideas and fork/pull/commit a lot of cool stuff on Github. I am excited to share my experience as a participant and some ideas about how we can build on this amazing event in the future.

MakersJam travel kit from Mark Shillitoe’s Global Sprint project CC-BY-4.0

I am grateful to have participated in a variety of ways. By helping 14 project leads prepare for the sprint in Github Issues like this one I learned about new initiatives I could share back with the communities I belong to. By mentoring two open leadership trainees for 12 weeks leading up to the sprint I was able to brush up on my mentoring skills while guiding my mentees on the development of their work. By contributing to many conversations and projects during the 48 hour sprint I was able to connect with and learn from new people and communities around the world.

It was a very inspiring event with a high level of excitement and engagement. Below are descriptions of some of the empowering scenarios I experienced and why I think they are important for the work that Mozilla is doing.

  • Many of the project leads learned how to use github for the first time. One of the challenging (but also appealing) things about the Global Sprint is that all project leads must use Github to participate. Materials, guides and tutorials were created to guide them through the process so anyone could lead a project even if they had never used Github. This was a unique opportunity to learn how to use it while surrounded by people that were willing and able to provide peer support.
  • At least five projects were in languages other than English. As noted in Mozilla’s Internet Health report “web content is predominantly in English, even though people who don’t speak English outnumber those who do.” So, the more projects and contributors creating work in other languages the more inclusive the web will become. The Global Sprint fostered a multilingual environment where people were creating work and collaborating in their local languages.
  • People across the globe tested and gave feedback on each other’s work. Participants in NYC play tested a board game about internet privacy created in Brasil. User testing is a very important part of developing a new project. The Global Sprint provided several opportunities for people across the globe to do this.
  • Participants with different educational backgrounds and expertise shared insight on each others projects. A Neuroscience PH.D candidate based in the US learned about barriers to open practices from a software developer based in Kenya and a community leader based in India. The sprint provided many ways for participants to get feedback from people outside of their professional and academic circles creating a diverse and truly open experience.
Privacy and Security Board Game prototype created during the Global Sprint in Brasil. CC-BY-4.0

There were 108 projects, 2223 comments/issues and 824 commits. Participants included educators, students, artists, librarians, software developers, researchers and more. The opportunities for collaboration, inquiry, peer support and overall discovery seemed endless.

With the huge success of the Global Sprint it got me thinking about what we could do to build on it for next time. Here are some ways I think we could do that and why:

  • Wranglers and mentors can work with project leads from their own time zone. Most of the projects I wrangled were in time zones six or more hours ahead of me. So when I was starting my day the project leads I was helping were ending their days. This put limitations on our in-person time together.
  • Invite more multi-lingual participation. Most of the projects were in English despite the large amount of cross-continental participation. As advocates for digital inclusion and equal opportunity I think it would be good to encourage a larger diversity of languages among projects.
  • Feature host sites more. There were 60+ host sites participating in the Global Sprint, but I only saw or heard from a fraction of them. Sites that were not connected via video conference seemed to get lost in the mix. Next time I think we should do better at recognizing sites so that all of them get featured even if they have low/no video connectivity.
  • Guide participants toward post-event pathways. The high energy and enthusiasm felt like it was just the beginning of something. When the sprint ended there was call for Mozilla Festival submissions, but not much else. I think we can create a better process that helps people find communities and opportunities to continue what they started during the sprint. Mozilla trainings, fellowships or clubs come to mind, but essentially there are many pathways to explore.
  • Create user scenarios that demonstrate benefits of participating in the Global Sprint. There was a learning curve for several participants leading up to the event. They were not quite sure what they would get out of participating and what they could offer to an event of this kind. I think it would be helpful to prepare stories of how people might benefit from different professions and backgrounds.

As a community manager and collaboration enthusiast, participating in the Global Sprint was a truly unique experience that I look forward to being involved with again. Judging by all the projects and reflections streaming in it seems I am not alone in this sentiment. See you next time!

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