This weekend will mark the biggest party on the World Wide Web not on the World Wide Web – Mozilla Festival or “MozFest”.
Organized by Mozilla, the creators of that web browser with the fire-tailed fox as its logo, Mozilla Festival is a festival like no other. Mozilla Festival will be split into six zones – Decentralization, Digital Inclusion, Openness, Privacy and Security, Web Literacy, and the Youth Zone. These are physical spaces (each occupies an entire floor of the building) embodying some of the most innovative and radical ideas and movements in cyberspace.
Each zone invites you to explore the theme through workshops, discussions, art, and mini-hackathons. For a taste, the titles range from “Lab CoC: Why we need codes of Conduct and how to get them into every research laboratory” to “BRRRAAaaaaiiiiNNNNZZZZZ!!!!” (the latter one encouraging you to become a neuroscientist and not a zombie). For those for whom loving the Internet equates to endless hours of Overwatch, there will also be throughout the event a large-scale, dynamic game called “Tracked”.
Alongside this will be talks by leading figures from the open source movement including a talk on Saturday by the founder of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, about what he has been doing since then.
If this isn’t enough, the tickets are only £45 for the entire weekend, with over 300 talks, unlimited hot drinks, entry to a party on Saturday night, and breakfast on Sunday where you will get a chance to talk with some of the other hackers, technologists and journalists eager to improve the web.
With the increasingly tangible influence of the internet on the offline world, from its part in the election of Donald Trump to blockchain technology and the sudden explosion of internet-connected devices in the developing world, there has never been a time when the freedom and openness of the World Wide Web has been more pertinent. As well as being a celebration of the World Wide Web, MozFest is an exploration and reaction to the potential harm that it can have. Last year, the first festival after the 2016 US presidential elections, talks included “What happened to the internet?” and “Debunking Fake News and Fake Science”. This year will almost certainly focus heavily on the effects of the Cambridge Analytica case with a panel discussion, “Who Controls the Internet?”, on Sunday and workshops on how to use Facebook without compromising your privacy.
The Internet is part of everyone’s lives and equally Mozilla Festival is open to and attended by people from all walks of life. In 2017, the director of Wikimedia asked for a show of hands from the audience to see how they identified themselves – as a technologist, journalist, artist, scientist, activist, or just an average internet user. The audience was split almost equally between the categories.
When I attended last year the only regret I had was that technology has not progressed sufficiently that I can have a digital clone to attend the other events happening simultaneously.
If MozFest sounds like your kind of party be sure to grab tickets for the event from the website https://mozillafestival.org/tickets. Tickets: £45 for the weekend, £20 for Saturday (including night party at the RSA), £25 for Sunday. Doors open at 8:00 Saturday, 9:00 on Sunday.