Zach Beauvais

Mozilla Festival: Media, Freedom, and the Web

Written by Zach Beauvais

Nov 17, 2011

Mozilla FestivalOriginally appeared on Kasabi’s Blog:

This last weekend, I found myself wearing a lab coat, meeting people working on some of the most interesting projects on the web, while in the queue to an entirely free espresso bar. And, I kept seeing human-sized foxes walking about and dancing. I was fairly sure I needed to wake up.

In fact, I was at this year’s Mozilla Festival, so all the interesting people I was meeting were gathering in London to hack and learn. The lab coat was because Chris and I from Team Kasabi were “Human APIs” at the event, and Kasabi was involved and partnered with the Mozilla Foundation. The espresso? That was because the event organisers were saints, and I’m still not sure about the giant foxes…

The themes broadly covered data-driven journalism, education, and multi-media web tools; and the Mozilla Festival was organised into learning/sharing sessions and design challenges. In the lab coat, Chris and I were able to dip in and out of many different sessions, and try and help people with any questions they have. As a result, I got to see people hacking the news, writing a data guide for journalists, and playing with an eight-bladed helecoptor-camera with Popcorn.js (I hereby coin the word: octopoptocoptor).

The hacks and learning/teaching sessions covered a lot of ground, and touched on many aspects of using the web to further society, tell stories, and uncover the truth in journalism. Data played a central role in this, especially around data journalism, and it’s a topic that needs even more coverage over the next year, I think. Many of the ideas and projects planned this weekend will need to develop strategies for dealing with vast amounts of data, and to get the most out of it! The Mozillian organisers seemed very keen on keeping the momentum rolling, too, with plenty of emphasis on this being a kind of kick-off for projects to develop, grow and mature, so I think there’s a lot of scope for great ideas getting traction.

Before the Mozilla Festival, I wrote about some of the things I’d like to cover at the event:

There is a growing, and important, trend for stories to include more than just words. I’m keen to see more data behind journalism. Partly, this is because it’s more transparent, and encourages wider fact-checking and accuracy. But it also enables a lot more interesting things to be done with stories.

I was certainly not disappointed, but would like to carry on working with people looking to make their data work better, and tell stories from it.

The Mozilla Festival blog has a lot of round-up info, so I won’t try and re-write the whole thing. It was a great event covering a huge amount of ground, and I’m looking forward to catching up about data-driven projects over the next few weeks. I’d also like to hear from anyone who’s interested in journalism and media on the web, to discuss getting your own datasets published, or building on top of others as part of your project.

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