What are we working on this week? Roadmaps, Tow Trucks and love bombs

February 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

At the Knight-Mozilla Open News sprint in NYC

Mozilla Webmaker weekly update for Feb 14, 2012

Getting practical on webmakers

This post from Mozilla’s Executive Director Mark Surman ties together the various roadmaps and blog posts now underway, tying them back to our overall goals for the year.

Next steps: getting our roadmaps added to the main Mozilla roadmap wiki.  Plus better participation in the weekly Mozilla All Hands updates.

Mozilla events menu and strategy

Michelle Thorne continues to test and simplify her event menu, working with Ben Simon on how we can create a scalable, self-organized model for events to take over the world. More on Mozilla Webmaker events:

Tow Truck Demo

Simon Wex presented an outstanding demo of “Tow Truck,” an educational HTML/CSS/JavaScript collaborative editor. Check out the prototype screencast. It kinda reminded us of the “hack battle” prototype from November’s Mozilla Festival, which shows Mozilla X-Ray Goggle hacks as movies.

Knight-Mozilla OpenNews news

@OpenNews is now the default Twitter account for the Knight-Mozilla Open News project.

The “Webmaking 101 for Journalists” sprint this week in NYC was a big success. Read all about it in Jess Klein’s week-in-review blog post. Plus more detail here, here and here. The Open News team wants to sponsor journalism hack days with YOU — so let us know what you’re up to here.

Mozilla Popcorn roadmap,  heatmap and upcoming fireside chat

How can Mozilla Popcorn serve as a starting point for deeper webmaking skills? The Popcorn team is looking for feedback on these user stories.

Bobby Richter is also looking for feedback on the developer “heat map” he developed to see where work load falls with each new release of Popcorn. The Popcorn team is also planning a special online fireside chat later this month to discuss their user stories and roadmap  — look for a date and details on that soon.

Mozilla Hive Toronto Pop-up on Saturday

  • Got kids in Toronto? Want them to learn how to hack? Sign them up free here.
  • If you can come and volunteer (even for a few hours), please sign up as a volunteer
  • If you’re coming as a volunteer, please bring a laptop and flipcam or digital camera. On an ongoing basis, we’ll need access to laptops that we can use for more of these Mozilla events. Let us know as a comment here if you have suggestions.

Software Carpentry in 90 seconds

Software Carpentry‘s mission: help scientists be more productive by teaching them basic computing skills. The project is looking for help and ideas in three key areas:

  • 1) Volunteer developers to model their work. We’d like to screencast developers’ desktop as they code and work, so learners can see what they do.
  • 2) What happens after the workshops? Where do participants land after the intro workshop? This is a common challenge across our projects — see Greg’s proposal in this “Stack Underflow” post.
  • 3) Evaluation. How do we demonstrate impact? We need a way to make a case in terms that a prof or lab director relates to.

Africa Open Days

Africa Open Days is an event designed to help in explaining, encouraging and promoting the use of open source tools. It’s the first of its kind in Africa. Check out the wiki and get involved here.

Love bomb blitz

It’s Valentine’s Day. Why not take a moment to send a love bomb to someone you love?

Upcoming events

NEW DATE and TIME: Teaching the fourth ‘R’: a fireside chat with Cathy Davidson

February 10, 2012 § 1 Comment

Technical difficulties last time around forced us to reschedule this event.  Please join us on our new date and time:

A virtual “fireside chat” with author Cathy Davidson:
Thursday, Feb 16 | 1pm PST / 4pm EST
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.

Mozilla’s Michelle Levesque: “Teaching algorithmic thinking”

In her own blog post response to Cathy’s argument, Mozilla’s Michelle Levesque considers how we can put Cathy’s principles into practice here at Mozilla, as we focus on creating tools and resources for a new generation of webmakers. Michelle will join Cathy to discuss how we can all work together to create a more web literate planet. We hope you’ll join us!

This Valentine’s Day, drop a love bomb on someone you love

February 9, 2012 § 2 Comments

Here at Mozilla, we like to drop “love bombs” on our favorite friends and colleagues. To reward great work and show we care.

The good folks at the Mozilla Hackasaurus team have taken it a giant step further. As part of their ongoing mission to make webmaking fun and easy for the planet, they’ve created this lovely “Love Bomb Builder” protototype. Making and sending hand-crafted love bombs has never been simpler! (See Jess Klein’s “On Inspiration and Lovebombs.”)

How does it work?

Simple! Choose a template, say a little about who and why the love bomb is for, then fire away! Your mom, dogwalker or special someone can click on the link you send them for a lovely digital token of your affection — lovingly handcrafted in HTML and CSS. I got one from my wife the other day, and it made me blush.

WARNING: Love Bomb Builder is an early prototype and still a little rough around the edges. May prematurely detonate. May cause blushing and/or spontaneous emotional combustion. No webmakers were harmed in the creation of said love bombs.

Some samples of what your customizable love bomb can look like:

  • Atul’s love bomb to Tim Berners Lee for creating the world wide web.
  • A fist bump for Vint Cerf for thinkin’ up the whole “open Internet” thing.
  • A wrestler mask for Madonna. Cuz she’d look great in one!

So what are you waiting for? Go make one now and send it your geekiest Valentine!

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.

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