My #MozFest

This is a brain-dump (expect grammar quirks) of my incredible experience at Mozilla Festival in London UK this weekend – of all I can remember having loved and learned,  with some personal bullets for the future.

I would love to write a series of thoughtful blog posts, but this final night in London will likely be my last chance for a little while, as I return to my busy family and equally busy 3rd quarter at Royal Roads.
MozFest was incredible, something I will never forget – and it will be a long time before my feet touch the ground again.  It was a great honour to represent Mozilla at this festival, to work among Mozillians and with the many clever people who turned up to ‘Make’ with us.

And hey, I got some badges !


Global Action Project 

My favourite, most cherished project during #Mozfest was working with the Global Action Project youth.   Photo above with four members + Rehan Dalal ( Super-Human API for CSS/JavaScript) GAP demoing their awesome Media Timeline (photo from Mozilla’s What we Built page)

Four young, smart men (photo-left) – filmmakers with an idea to create a Media timeline documenting significant events in history as they pertained to personal experiences and media.  Actually, they had already had a well-throught-out paper prototype  (behind them in photo).

Mark Surman had just given his whole ‘Ship it’ speech at the keynote that morning and so the challenge was to break off a piece of their project for Demo that evening.

How we did it

  • Decided to Popcorn media events (from YouTube) with personal context added.  (ie: 911, where I was, outcome images like full-body-scans, or Wikipedia on conspiracy theories)
  • Found a website layout they liked, and could use as a guide for multi-embed video timeline.
  • Drew it out on paper  (wish I had kept a photo!)
  • Design included their colour  key
  • Drafted a Thimble template based on that design (with the guidance and skills of  Super-Human API for JavaScript and CSS Rehan Dalal )
  • Decided to only cover 3 decades (80’s, 90’s, 2000’s), with 3 videos for each decade –  to be realistic and ship for demo.
  • Crowdsourced Popcorn , which was challenging via Twitter because my phone connection kept dropping.  Contributions came from a few random people who picked a media event that affected them, Popcorned them and sent the link.  I thought this was awesome.
  • Shipped it, even though there were things that ‘bugged them’, and weren’t quite right yet.

Things I learned

  • (Fuck it / Ship it) Deadlines are good (I’ll have to De-‘Surman/Gaylor’  this terminology for younger audiences ;) . Demo dealine forced this team to break their project into a small manageable first-piece.
  • Shipping also forced them to make decisions about what the high level visuals were: what was important and mandatory, and what could wait until the next ‘release’.
  • Visualizing how the web can respond to a paper-prototype is not an easy task for non-developers, this was my strength in teaching .
  • Software Development Agile approach to teaching webmaking works :)  All in good time.
  • I learned I can teach youth, and really enjoyed it, and was SO PROUD Of them during the demo talking about their project, their vision and all they accomplished that day. Addictive.
  • This was a web prototype, but I could see that the process helped them ask better questions about how the web works, and how it could work for their project.
  • The lines blurred between Teaching and Project Management a few times.  At all times, I tried to let them lead – the story was theirs and it felt an honour to help them reach the visualization.

End Result (poor photo, but you get the idea)

Webmaker Tools (Learner-Feedback)

I floated around generally, and participated specifically in a few Hacktivate and Webmaker areas.  Here’s some learner feedback on our Webmaker tools:



  • Badges (at least as they applied to Badge Bingo)
  • Quick method of create a web page for projects of many components.
  • Held up to some serious CSS



  • Changing URL for each share – made it challenging to ‘check’ on the project.
  • Badges were great, but the starting point seems to be at a beginner level.  Equivalent I suppose of going through 5 levels of pacman before it really gets challenging. Perhaps badges should belong to categories of ‘user’ (beginner/coder / ninja etc)
  • Sometimes you want/need to use JavaScript. Having said that we think we deserved a badge for using width: -moz-calc(330px * 3); instead of JavaScript to calculate the width of a div ( relative to the number of popcorn video embeds).  ‘Avoided use of JavaScript badge?’ :D
  • Thimble Projects need a Remix button like Popcorn

Learner Response – Popcorn Maker


  •  All of it, and people reacted with (seriously ) shocked  appreciation of what they were accomplishing- People loved Popcorn Maker, all they could do with it and how fast they were able to create something personal to them with elements of the web.


  • At least 3 separate teams wanted to ‘add sound clips‘ to their video.  Something like a ‘Sound  Yoink’ I guess.  I wish I’d asked more about what *they* thought that should be – whether they would record something?  Or use a library of available sounds?
  • Embedding a Web Page or another video (a feature Popcorn used to have, but issues with unexpected content etc make it a little tricky)

User Feedback – Collaborate?

For the Global Action Demo we were able to create something nifty with Thimble and Popcorn as a static example of their intended outcome.  BUT -none of us could see how they could continue to use Thimble without a way to extend the offer to others (all over the world ) to contribute their own videos.

This sounds a lot like they need a web application for submissions, a database…. but maybe not. I have some ideas of how Thimble could help users create HTML widgets for collaboration.  Yes yes concurrency issues, etc etc.  Don’t give up on it before you’re finished imagine it.  Another post though..too epic here already

Cherished Chats

  • Teaching (Mozilla Board Member) Cathy Davidson  Popcorn Maker during a Webmaker session.  I didn’t know she-was-who-she-was until half-way through Popcorning her video, which made the experience quite authentic in hind-site.
  • HIVE NYC – Meeting Chris, Leah, Laura and other HIVE leaders, working along side them was awesome.
  • NYC Youth  (four youth on the left). Fantastic project, smart kids – a highlight of my entire #Mozfest was getting to know them.
  • Dethe (Water Bear) Coder,  writing code, father teaching is his son code – smart, really nice –   Canadian – across the pond in Vancouver’ looking forward to more crazy talks about geometry.
  • MozReps A treasure of  dedicated Mozillians.  Many I knew through interactions in Webmaker and MozReps dist lists, and fantastic to meet them in person, had so many great chats – sharing visions on everything from education, to event organizing and a million other things.  I simply couldn’t mention this trip without gratitude for all  Fuzzy Fox managed to do on about half an hour’s sleep, and Pierros as well – they took good care of us visiting Reps. A blog post all it’s own – love them all.
  • Craftyy kids  (more Canadians – woot!).  So smart, so nice, writing Hackable Games – and a cool hackable editor.   Looking forward to seeing all they accomplish – and want to support them.
  • Heather Leson  I talked about this GIS  lesson plan I wanted to webify (orginally with Popcorn, but not sure now), she told me about Open Maps…
  • Elyse Eidman A highlight-meet of MozFest, we chatted for 10 minutes about working with teachers in schools, and administration (something I’ve struggled with) – she gave me not only advice, but perspective.  ‘There are a million good ideas’, ‘schools should have some walls up’, ‘go with the teacher who gets-it and advance from there’.  Most importantly ‘appeal to values they already have:  Writing is already a core value of schools & teachers – Webmaking is writing for the web.
  • DIY co-founder(brain failing me with name – will look up). My daughter loves her DIY app, I think it plays so perfectly into Webmaker into badges, into Making. Quick chat, and cherished meet.
  • Nameless Educator chatted with me about teaching kids Word Perfect 10 years ago, and the one particular moment that stands out for him – a teen arguing that ‘justify’ was not the proper term for a particular editing action. He was blown away by ideas like  ‘Web Makey Makey’  and Craftyy’s hackable editor (which I of course, told him all about ).
  • Tara  – Chatted for a bit during the Webmaker session. I have  followed her @LAMakerspace for quite some time, and it was with much pleasure that I was able to steal a few minutes of her time.  Sadly I also had to run out of her  Webmaker Mentors session for Rep duties. Hoping to chat more in the future.

Personal Highlights

  • Meeting, in person, so many of the people I’ve been contributing with online
  • Running lunch to to my Global Action kids because they were too ‘into the zone’ to stop working for lunch.
  • Watching Brett officially release Popcorn Maker 1.0 (00:00 – 09:00) – so great
  • Joi Ito ( in this video 25:30 – 46:00)
    •  Joi describes his experience with education as I would my own. ‘Education was something terrible people did to me, I loved to learn, learning was something I did for myself.  Blown away; this was me too.
  • Introducing a large group of adults to Popcorn Maker .  I cannot accurately describe here, the immense honour I felt presenting Popcorn Maker to adults in a Webmaker session, but also the watching people use it successfully for whatever they imaged.  Also incredibly FUN.
  • Various Zombie creature photos  (Our Global Action project  team also has a Zombie photo & will share that when I get it)
  • Mozilla Reps photo with Mitchell Baker.
  • The Live Coding Remixers at the London Film Museum Party.
  • London Film Museum Party.
  • Visiting Mozilla London office.
  • Watching Mozillians Karaoke, which they do often, and quite well apparently.
  • Science Fair
    • 3D Printing
    • Craftyy  (even though we’ve only just met, I knew what a huge moment it was for them, and also for everyone there experiencing their brilliant work )
    • All of it actually
  • This Stick-it-note kid, although I never did ask what the deal was.
  • 6 Mozilla Reps in an elevator, 1 woman on a mobile phone …of course someone had to ask if she was using Firefox.
  • Experiencing London!

‘Boo’ Moments

  • When the tennis game let-out just as we were headed to the tube, crowds flooded the tube, which left us with a 2 hour trip back via bus.  At least the company was good(above)
  • Missed a chance to meetup with @zenlan :( We met through ‘Women in Drupal’ group, connected over @CodeClub and planned to meet – but somehow, we missed each other  anyway.

Challenging News

Just as I arrived here in London, I was given the heartbreaking news that my good friend’s daughter‘s Leukemia has relapsed. I’ve been thinking of, and writing them every day while in London.  A reminder to hug your family before you step out the door to save the world.  If you have time to send a note of encouragement, I know they would appreciate it. 

Outcomes – next steps for our community in #yyj

  • I get to sleep…. THEN:
  • Maker Space  (going with Helen Lee next week)
  • Get #yyj webmaker dist list moving. Finally approved by Mozilla – waiting for activation.
  • Schedule #yyj Meetup (Mozillians, other ed tech, parents, teachers whoever wants to come chat)
  • Continue with Code Club plans for January

Outcomes – next steps beyond #yyj

  • MozCamp Canada? Growing Mozilla Canada.
    • B2G App challenge ( as planned by Pierros)  , Dethe
    • Vancouver

Things I would like to do, but feel growing the #yyj community is a more important goal in advance.

  • Run an event for teens
  • Run an event for Girls
  • Contribute to Webmaker project code

Things I’ll probably keep doing in small pieces still

  • Attending Webmaker calls
  • Doing some QA

Things I would like to see happen but won’t have time for

  • Web version of GIS lesson plan  using Open Maps (maybe?), and somehow for Popcorn. Maybe not, I simply want to do it and have no idea how :D
  • Admitting I have to drop Drupal contribution, at least for now.  Not enough time in the day, and having just too much fun here.


Epic Brain-dump, sorry about that.