What are we working on this week? Popcorn vision, learning roadmap, OpenBadges re-design + more

February 7, 2012 § 2 Comments

Working open… every week

I’m excited by how our Mozilla Webmaker calls are evolving. Most meetings tend to suck. This one increasingly doesn’t, in large part because we’re committed to sprinting together in etherpad instead of just passively listening to others talk. As our team grows rapidly, we have the dual necessity of both increasing participation and co-ordinating effort, to avoid left-hand vs. right-hand issues. We’ve got a ways to go, but having a look at the etherpad each week provides a decent (albeit blurry) snapshot of what the heck is up.

Notes and audio recording from the Feb 7 call
This post provides a quick summary of what we’re working on right now, as outlined in today’s call.

What’s on our radar this week?

Mozilla Popcorn: Vision & Roadmap

Got a sneak preview at some new slides and roadmap for Mozilla Popcorn today. Outstanding presentation from Ben Moskowtiz, Brett Gaylor and the Popcorn team. Not yet ready for wide sharing — look for a blog post and tweets on this soon.

Mozilla Learning Team Roadmap

What specific skills do we need to teach to create a generation of webmakers? How do we get there?

  • Blog post on Mozilla Learning Roadmap from Erin Knight.
  • Roadmap. With goals broken down by quarter

Re-designing the OpenBadges.org site

Mozilla’s Open Badges project is going to get a more robust online home. Blog post and preliminary wireframes are here.

Hive Toronto:  Hackjam for youth

Happening in the Mozilla Toronto office February 18th, from 1 pm – 4:30 pm. Heather Payne is working with others to hone the event plan. Registration is here. 54 people already registered so far (24 kids, 16 parents, 14 volunteers). Aiming for 60-75 kids to register total.

Data Journalism Handbook: version 1.0 coming soon

The Data Journalism Handbook was born at November’s Mozilla Festival in London. They’re aiming to have a version 1.0 done by the end of February. Learn more and get involved here. Or re-tweet something like this to help spread the word:

Final call for contributions for the Data Journalism Handbook v 0.1 ow.ly/8THez . Help to finish it by end of Feb! #ddjbook #ddj

How do we make it easier for webmakers to host their own events?

Ben Simon and Michelle Thorne have outlined thinking and proposals in a pair of blog posts. Are these the right features? Are we missing any?

Awesome blog post and visual storytelling on Collusion

Who’s watching the watchers? Don’t miss this inspired post and comic-style explanation of  Collusion.

Shout out to Pat Imlay and Open Attribute

Shout Out to Pat Lockley who continues to update the Open Attribute plugins. It’s attribution made ridiculously simple. Updated plugins for Firefox, Chrome, WordPress, Drupal, Opera.


Mozilla DML Science Fair: prepping for blast off

February 6, 2012 § 2 Comments

Mozilla is hosting a giant “Science Fair” at the March 1 “Digital Media and Learning” conference in San Francisco. Our mission: gather folks doing amazing work at the intersection of learning, youth and the web, have them set up 20+ booths and interactive show-and-tell stations, then invite educators, youth and local SF VIPs to all mingle, chat and get their hands dirty.

You can learn more or have a look at how the DML Science Fair is coming together here.

Cool re-usable “open branding” elements for all our events

As Mark wrote last week, we were blown away by the terrific job the Mozilla Japan team did in creating a fun physical presence for the Vision 2012 event. So we want to try and replicate their work for the Science Fair.

Mozilla Japan’s Tetsuya Kosaka was kind enough to send us their original assets, and we’ve simply tweaked the language on them for the event (below). We’re hoping to re-use and re-purpose them at other upcoming events.

I like the way these signs contain clear Mozilla branding, but also open whiteboard space for exhibitors and friends to decorate and put their own stamp on it. Feels very Mozilla — like “open branding.” Plus a lot more versatile and re-usable.

We may eventually update the visual language beyond the “space” theme, but for now it seems great and very “Science Fair-ish.”

We are indebted to the work of Eriko Saito (CNS Inc.) as the creative designer on this project. CNS Inc. is a company Mozilla Japan worked with for planning and executing
the Mozilla Vision 2012 event in Japan. Eriko was in charge of designing key
visuals, and did an amazing job.

Science Fair exhibitor whiteboard

...in six different versions

Plus cool little stand-up elements like these

...in the same six versions

Generic Mozilla whiteboard sign

11 x 17" wayfinder signs

Name badge stickers for presenters

Statement of Work for Printing

  • PDF document outlining specific deliverables, along with rough dimensions and quantities (Feb 2012)

Teaching the fourth ‘R’: a fireside chat with Cathy Davidson

January 30, 2012 § 1 Comment

Join us for a virtual “fireside chat” with author Cathy Davidson:
Wednesday, Feb 1  |  9am PST / 12pm EST / 5pm UTC
Sign up on Lanyrd here

How do we teach the web?

You’ve heard of “the three ‘R’s:” reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.

But author and noted academic Cathy Davidson says the 21st Century demands a fourth: “algoRithms,” as in the underlying threads and logic that shape our digital lives.

More than just “teaching people how to code,” Cathy sees “algorhtmic thinking” and webmaking as a vital antidote to the passive, assembly line model that still dominates most traditional education.

“Algorithmic thinking:” iterative, process-oriented, constructive

As Cathy argues recently in the Washington Post and in her most recent DML blog post:

We need to reform our learning institutions, concepts, and modes of assessment for our age.  Now, anyone with access to the World Wide Web can go far beyond the passive consumer model to contribute content on the Web….  That Do-It-Yourself potential for connected, participatory, improvisational learning requires new skills, what many are calling new “literacies.”

Like other literacies, algorithmic thinking is foundational, “a set of rules that precisely defines a sequence of operations.” She sees it as the opposite of the “bubble-thinking” ingrained through decades of highly standardized, multiple choice tests. “It provides an alternative to fact-based mastery and proposes, instead, iterative, process-oriented, constructive, innovative thinking.”

What is marvelous about algorithmic thinking and Webmaking is that you can actually see abstract thinking transformed into your own customized multimedia stories on the Web, offered to a community, and therefore contributing to the Web.  Algorithmic thinking is less about “learning code” than “learning to code.”  Code is never finished, it is always in process, something you build on and, in many situations, that you build together with others.   Answers aren’t simply “right” guesses among pre-determined choices, but puzzles to be worked over, improved, and adapted for the next situation, the next iteration.

Webmaking as art, craft and engineering

Cathy has become an increasingly active part of the Mozilla community. She was a driving force at the 2010 Mozilla Festival on “Learning, Freedom and the Web,” and is one of the lead organizers of the “Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition,” run in conjunction with Mozilla’s Open Badges software.

Cathy’s work at Duke University’s “HASTAC” initiative focuses on the intersection between the humanities and technology. Her interdisciplinary approach feels very Mozilla-ish, especially as we continue to reach out to new audiences and spaces:

The 20th century’s division into “two cultures”—with the human, social and artistic disciplines on one side and the scientific and technological on the other—makes no sense in the world of Webcraft.

In fact, algorithmic thinking is so much about process, invention, and customizing that, in some circles, there is still a healthy debate about whether writing code is an art form, a craft, or engineering.  Is it thinking or doing?  Is it writing or making?  Is it theory or practice?  The answer is “all of the above.”

Join us Feb 1

We hope you’ll join Cathy and moderator Mark Surman on Feb 1 to chat about how Mozilla can build on these ideas to create a more web literate planet. See you there.

Buffy slays Twilight: how to make pop-up video mayhem

January 26, 2012 § 3 Comments

Remember those awesome pop-up videos on VH1? Thanks to Mozilla Popcorn, the new HTML5 tool for supercharging web video, the pop-up format is about to get a whole new lease on life.

Exhibit A: this wicked “Buffy the Vampire Slayer vs. Edward from Twilight” remix, created by the mash-up maestro from Rebellious Pixels. Check it out here. Then get started making your own pop-up video here.

“Hacking pop culture”

First posted in its original form in 2009, the “Buffy vs. Edward” remix video has garnered over 4 million views, been subtitled into 30 languages, and received media attention from NPR radio to Vanity Fair (“Buffy Could Kick Edward Cullen’s Precious Sparkly Emo Ass“).

The new Mozilla Popcorn-powered “pop-up” version adds a new interactive layer over top, with added annotations, commentary, and tips on protecting yourself from real-life stalkers.

The video’s creator, “pop culture hacker” Jonathan McIntosh, says the remix is all about hacking gender roles and Hollywood cultural coding — a theme he’s explored in other projects like the hilarious “Gendered Advertising Remixer,” now also available in HTML5 format.

Create your own pop-up video with Mozilla Popcorn

Want to add annotations and pop-ups to your own videos? Popcorn Maker is designed to make the power of Mozilla Popcorn more accessible to non-developers and mere mortals. Popcorn Maker’s “pop-up video” template makes it (fairly) easy for you to add annotations and context to just about any video on the web.

The software is still in early alpha version, so there’s still lots of rough edges. But you can check it out and get started now. Just pick “Pop Video” from the “Choose a Template” menu.  Or have a look at the Popcorn Maker user manual here.

Crowdsourcing the State of the Union

January 19, 2012 § 4 Comments

Mozilla partners with public media to empower citizen engagement in U.S. election coverage

Tuesday’s State of the Union Address from U.S. President Barack Obama will include something special: crowdsourced captions and subtitles provided by everyday citizens around the world.

Using new web tools from Mozilla and the Participatory Culture Foundation, participants will transcribe and translate the President’s speech into dozens of languages in a matter of hours, making it more accessible to those with disabilities and in other countries across the globe.

Launching “Open Election 2012”

The event marks the launch of “Open Election 2012,” a new partnership  between Mozilla, PBS NEWSHOUR, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting  (CPB) and Participatory Culture Foundation.

Open Election 2012 will showcase how new open web technologies and citizen participation can make election coverage more accessible to diverse audiences, and provide new ways to engage with the news.

Adding context and interactivity with Mozilla Popcorn
Throughout the election, PBS NEWSHOUR will also use “Mozilla Popcorn,” a new HTML5 media tool Fast Company recently called “the future of online video.”

Popcorn makes it possible to pull other content and context from across the web right into the story, providing new ways for viewers to interact with video news.

Engaging and inspiring audiences
“It is part of the mission of public media to make our content available to everyone,” explained Hari Sreenivasan, Correspondent and Director of Digital Partnerships for PBS NEWSHOUR.

“From Chinese to Dutch, the speech translation is a true service for those for whom English is a second language and the hard of hearing. We hope to engage and inspire audiences too often forgotten.”

Learn more

SOPA and “The Great Firewall of America:” what it is and how to kill it

January 18, 2012 § 3 Comments

This will be remembered as the day the web went dark. Today, Mozilla is joining other public interest organizations, everyday internet users around the world, and tech companies from Wikipedia to Reddit to Google.

Together we’re going on “virtual strike” to shine a light on proposed censorship legislation that could effectively create a “Great Firewall of America.”

And we need your voice to help stop it.

What’s going on?

The U.S. Congress is trying to pass legislation that threatens free speech and innovation on the Internet, under the banner of anti-piracy efforts.

This legislation, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) and its companion legislation in the US House, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), would give the US government and private business incredible  global censorship powers, damage the Internet’s security, and discourage  innovation and investment worldwide.

Learn more:

Take action:

There’s a week left until Senators return to Washington from their districts, when their vote is scheduled on the PROTECT IP Act. We need to make one last big push by contacting their local offices and asking them not to support PIPA.

If you’re in the U.S.:

If you’re outside the U.S.:

Other ways to get involved

Mozilla FAQ on SOPA

What’s this about?
The U.S. Congress is trying to pass legislation that threatens free speech and innovation on the Internet, under the banner of anti-piracy efforts.

What’s at risk?
These new laws would give the US government and private business incredible  global censorship powers, damage the Internet’s security and discourage  innovation and investment worldwide.

The result?
Your favorite websites, both inside and outside the US, could be blocked based on a single infringement claim, without any due process of law.

How is it done?
The  US will be able to block a site’s web traffic, ad traffic and search  traffic.

What about piracy?
Piracy is a problem but there are better ways to address it that don’t stifle innovation, knowledge and creativity, or give the US such unchecked power over the global Internet.

What is Mozilla doing exactly?
We’ll be redirecting our main mozilla.org and mozilla.com English web sites to an action page for 12 hours on Wednesday, January 18th (8:00 am – 8:00 pm US Eastern Time). Also, the Firefox default start page will be blacked out so 100% of en-US visitors will see our call to action. Usage of Firefox is not limited or effected.

Why not a full blackout?
We hope the blackout of our US sites will educate people about this important issue. Mozilla believes that the individuals’ security on the Internet is fundamental and cannot be treated as optional. Access to the latest and most secure version of Firefox ensures user security. Thus some of the site functionality will stay in place during the blackout.

How long have you been involved in anti SOPA activities?
Mozilla has been actively involved in the stop SOPA activities from the start with our first public facing activities rallying for support in November.

Why does this matter to Mozilla?
The Mozilla project is a global community of people who believe that openness, innovation, and opportunity are key to the continued health of the Internet. These new laws would give the US government and private business incredible censorship powers that would have effects globally, damage the Internet’s security and discourage innovation and investment worldwide.

Is this just a matter for Americans to care about?
The laws will have effects globally, damaging the Internet’s security and discouraging innovation and investment in web technology worldwide. As it is a proposed US law, our call to action focuses on US citizens, asking them to reach out to their representatives.

Who owns “you” online?

January 13, 2012 § 6 Comments

There’s a battle going on for your online soul. 2012 will be a year where the good guys take some important steps forward in that battle.

Mitchell Baker and Ben Adidas posts on online identity and what Mozilla is doing to empower users are important reading for anyone who cares about where the web is headed.

As Mitchell notes, all of us are now creating and sharing more and more of our personal data online. This opens exciting possibilities, but also serious questions: How do you protect and empower yourself in the cloud? Who can you trust? And who ultimately owns the online version of “you?”

Who makes the rules? The architecture of “you”

You are valuable. Your online data, decisions and content are worth something to yourself and others. As thinkers like Ben Cerveny have pointed out, each of us leaves a trail behind us as we travel through the “luminous bath” that is the web. This data says something about you, leaving a set of footprints others can potentially follow. Your data is unique, and it has value.

So who makes the rules around how your data gets used? As Mitchell writes:

The ability of big data and cloud service providers to monitor, log, store, use, correlate and sell information about who we are and what we do has huge implications for society and for individuals.

Right now there’s no convenient way for me to share information about myself and maintain control over that information. I share information about myself by putting it someplace where someone else makes all the rules.

This is bigger than just Google and Facebook. The question of “who makes the rules” is a more fundamental question about the architecture of user data and the Internet itself.

This architecture boils down to some fundamental design questions about how your data is shared. Do you decide, setting the rules once, then pushing them out across your online experience? Or are you instead subject to a confusing mishmash of different rules for your data, each set by whatever application or service you happen to be using at the time?

Putting you at the center

Mozilla believes you need to be at the center of your online experience, with the option to store your data in the cloud and then set the rules for how it it accessed across the web. This means you get to set the rules, instead of other sites deciding for you. Mitchell writes:

To really help people with the way we use and share data today, Mozilla will need to offer people the choice of storing data in the cloud in a way that allows services to access it with your permission. This will be a new thing for Mozilla. It will involve new challenges.  It’s important that we take these on and address them well. If we develop an offering that handles user data in the cloud properly we will help ensure choice and user sovereignty in new areas of online life.

Identity that answers to no one but you

Concretely, as Ben Adidad explains, this means Mozilla will ramp up work on a host of “user-centric” (I think of them as “you-centric”) services this year, including an innovative approach to identity, a mobile web-based operating system, and an app store. As a non-profit answerable only to you, we’re in a unique position to take this on, without ulterior motives or fine print. Mitchell writes:

No other organization has both the ability to do something totally focused on user sovereignty rather than financial profit, and the ability to have wide impact. A Mozilla presence in the cloud will allow us to to fulfill our mission in important new areas of online life.

The web you deserve

A web that recognizes “you,” knows who you are, and can respond accordingly is an exciting thing — so long as you’re the one in control of the experience.

That requires a trusted, ideally non-profit broker to help you manage your identity and set the rules for your data — with no ulterior motives or fine print.

This is different than the “bait and switch” model that now seems common in the cloud, luring us in with shiny services and products, only to reveal hidden costs, nasty fine print, or a cavalier approach to our personal data down the road.

The web — and you — deserve better. I’m excited that Mozilla is leading that charge in 2012.