#Mozfest 2016 Things

by Chante Jansen

It is almost every young girl/boy’s dream to travel the world some day and experience things you always wonder about and see on television. It has been a dream I long dreamt of and hoped it would happen someday. And then this year without worry, thought or planning, my dream came true.

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I am a Mozilla Club Captain in the Western Cape region, Cape Town, South Africa, and this year I have been afforded the opportunity together with my regional coordinator Mmaki Jantjies, to attend the Mozfest in London which was hosted from the 28th– 30th October. Mozfest is an annual event hosted by the Mozilla foundation where people such as technologists, educators, students and creators come together from across the world share ideas, success stories on things that have taken place in their different communities and to come up with innovative ways to supporting the web and issues surrounding the web.  The Mozfest plays a big role in allowing conversations on the openness of technology and the web in the public area.

Coming to the festival I honestly had no expectations because I did not know what to expect with regards to the way things would be, the environment, the people, the discussions or anything. I just came there with an open mind ready to learn and experience things. And wow was my imagination blown away, and I was glad that I did not set any expectation because it would have surpassed it all.

My journey at Mozfest started the Thursday morning at the Pre-Mozfest session which was for Women and Web Literacy, led by Amirah Dhalla. This was such an enriching session where about 20+ women came together to share their views and stories of how they envision and ensure to make the web an open and safe space for girls and women in their communities. The session was led by campaign ideas and ways that it could be set up in order to get an opinion raised, a policy taken down or a project set up. We broke up into different groups and discussed things that we see as needs in our different communities for girls/women and then coming up with possible solutions on how we could make the need into a possible way forward. The discussions that came up were so crucial to each and every one of us because we as women could put our views and opinions together to tackle the issues that came up. I found this session very enriching because it enabled me with the tools to start a programme in my own community to empower our young girls.

The Mozfest then kicked off with a science fair the Friday evening where those that attended could see presentations on creative and inspiring projects and ideas.

The sessions at Mozfest were then further led by different sessions which were all organised into spaces. These spaces were set up in thematic learning spaces and physical spaces around different domains such as arts and culture, localisation, youth zone, open science, journalism, demystify the web, etc. Furthermore, there were spaces where people would show cast work that they have done and made this an interactive space for the attendees to experience/ try-out their creations. The way in which the setting was created around Mozfest, allowed for people to roam around to the different spaces or either just completely ‘geeking-it-out’ in a single space.

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The Saturday I was so amazed by the different levels of creativity that was explored at the festival. I think the most prominent thing I took away from this festival was SIMPLICITY. Which might sound really weird for have been exposed to so much creativity, expression and craziness. But I could honestly see how with just a simple idea we can do so many things to get a message across or to teach someone something.

Some of the things that really caught my attention were:

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Hacking the Light

Tomide Adesanmi’s story began with him simply wanting to find a way to teach children how to code, and lights came to mind, as this is one thing that is attractive to children.  He created a program which allowed for you to created different shapes, words, numbers and patterns into a cube of connected LED lights. This was done by writing a code into a program with C++ language that had commands set up to enable the code to run successfully. This was a great way to inspire coding beginners into the world of programming by making it exciting and sparkling people’s imagination and keeping them engaged.

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Face Garden

This was showcased by  Marina Malone whereby she wanted to make people aware of the terms and conditions when making an online presence or signing up to just about anything. She brought this across in a creative way with a walled community garden analogy. We could then create a web system that reflected on how the web can tackle privacy, decentralisation, and inclusion. It made me realise that there are so many times we give consent to different platforms to use our information but never take the time to read what and how it would be used.

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Mozilla Clubs

The Mozilla Clubs session, this session was run by Julia Vallera, the global Mozilla Clubs Leader, where the different region coordinators, club captains and people interested in running clubs came together to discuss the curriculum around the Mozilla Clubs, what we could do to improve our clubs and the successes we achieved with our clubs. I also had an opportunity to share my experience with running a club in my community with those who wanted to start a similar club for teaching women and girls in their respective countries.

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Some of the Mozilla Club leaders from across the world

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The Mozilla festival wrapped up on Sunday evening with a demo party, where people’s work was showcased and together we could all celebrate what was built and the success of #Mozfest 2016.

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