Jade Did Drumbeat: A Field Journal

It's Interactive and Ethnographic

The Opening

This video puts the opening speeches provided by Cathy Davidson and Mitchell Baker in conversation.  It was very empowering to start the first day of the festival with these two amazing women.  After this speech all the participating groups pitched their ideas.

The Closing

The Closing ceremony of the festival was very exciting.  I sat in the room during the prep for the “variety show” to go over the highlights, hiding in a little window seat as sound checks and script run throughs happened around me.  I was exhausted, but excited.  Since Cathy was part of the opening the organizers had her come back for a final run through.

She was very excited to see me because she had big news: Mozilla had decided to take on the Future Class tool as part of their on-going Drumbeat development projects!

And then the search for Whitney and Sam started.  Whitney had opted to go back to her room and take a nap.  Luckily we managed to call Sam back from his hotel for the big announcement.  Of course, the element of surprise was taken away since we had to tell him why we needed him back.  I was so excited for both Nick and Sam because we wouldn’t have been in such an amazing place had it not been for both of their efforts.

During the actual run through of the closing they asked Cathy what she was taking back with her from the festival.

Her reply was,

I’m taking back five wonderful students.

The audience laughed.  She asked us to stand up, and there was applause.

The Future of Learning

I still have my main questions. They are one of the reasons I am back in school. I want to know where traditional institutions fit in Freedom, learning and the web? are we friend, foe or collaborator with the non-traditional institutions that are taking ground? What is the future of learning?

I am so lucky to have been able to play with these questions in real time with people at Drumbeat and with Future Class.  To get different perspectives on what that future might be is invaluable.  To put those perspectives into conversation with each other?  I don’t even know the words to qualify that.

I learned so much by watching people playing, especially at Drumbeat. The video above is an illustration of what we are all capable of doing if we work together in real time, with a bit of imagination, tinkering and determination.  I did not produce it, but it inspires me.

To see the work that Mozilla will continue to do around this theme, visit:



Nick's Engagement Cloud Storming

Future Class required complete engagement from everyone. That is a lot to ask for.

This class, and being connected all the time, it’s kind of changed how I’ve framed the whole semester and how I manage my time. It requires so much time, and none of my other classes work like this.

Nick, final interview

Nick starts Tweeting Again

I am positive that everyone in Future Class experienced engagement ways we were not anticipating.  I know for many of us, we also tested what level of engagement we were comfortable with.  I don’t know that we would have done the testing without the catalyst of the Drumbeat festival. Having such an important event and being responsible for such an important part of making the event work influenced members of future class to assert themselves and the value they added to the group.

One of the most drastic changes in engagement style was Mary Caton, who came to a realization early on in the course that collaboration makes her uncomfortable.  Further, she was the only student who did not go to Drumbeat.  However, once we realized what our responsibility was, she found ways to engage and be helpful, and ultimately found the whole drumbeat experience to be amazing and useful, even from afar because,

The event put all the stuff we had been discussing in class in conversation with a larger audience.

Mary Caton, Final Interview

The implication of us being in conversation with a global audience changed our conversations.  Knowing that everyone in the class was a part of these conversations that were now viral, and knowing that our voices had been folded in to this amazing dialogue was truly a humbling experience.


Gunner Speaking during the first Space Wrangler Meeting

November 3

Our official introduction in to the world of drumbeat was at the first “Space Wranglers” meeting, a meeting that just happened to be in the Future Class/Storming the Academy Tent.  During this meeting we learned that part of our travel scholarships from Mozilla meant we were volunteering to help guide people through the festival should they have questions.  We also needed to have a general sense of what was happening with the schedule.  This role allowed us to make sure we had any pre-event questions answered.

The Gunner Experience

Allen “Gunner” Gunn changed how everyone in Future Class views successful facilitation and collaboration within diverse groups (so much so that a blog post was written about his methods).  We started using his term, “love bomb” in our emails, almost immediately.

Hey guys,

Just a big “love bomb” (to use Gunner’s term) to FutureClass. I really, really enjoyed getting to know everyone better in Barcelona (and Mary Caton in Durham!)

-From Whitney’s first post-Drumbeat email to the listserv

The meeting was scheduled to last 4 hours, from 1pm-5pm with a regroup the next morning at 7:30AM.  I was too tired to note the time it actually ended but I know I managed to get lost in Barcelona catch a taxi to my hotel and take a 1.5 hour nap before the evening’s festivities.

Festival Map

Festival Map

The Science Fair took place that evening.  It was the opening event. We were “unveiled” as Future Class.  The Science Fair lasted quite late into the night (so late that an email was sent in the wee hours of the morning rescheduling the 7:30AM meeting to 8:00AM… I missed the email).

November 4

To see the full Storming the Academy Schedule Click Here (PDF) (or right click save as to download).

Thursday was the first day of the festival component of Drumbeat.  I was one of the two people from Future Class to see the opening speeches and activity pitches (the other members manned the tent while we were gone). I remain in awe that two amazing women were the featured speakers in the only organized component of the day.  I am humbled to be in a class “taught” by Cathy.

The festival was on.  Storming the Academy had multiple events with standing room only.  Future Class kind of let go of the idea of side table events, something I am convinced was for the best.  We always had someone at the tables and we interacted with people and explained who we are but we were very flexible with our programming.  Most of Future Class managed to explore that day. I stayed at my “field site”.

November 5

This was to be a day of misses for me. The final day of the festival started with a morning meeting that I missed.   I also missed a discussion/activity I wanted to attend that happened in the tent, facilitated by Whitney, a member of Future Class.  I had some time to wander around Drumbeat: another miss!  It was an awkward experience since so many of the tents/groups had already found their core teams and were well on their way to building.  After lunch, I  looked around a bit, but my jet lag hit me and I ended up back at the tent.

The day ended with the closing “variety show” performance Anya of DIY U.  It variety show was a selection of highlights and speakers from the various Festival tents and spaces.  Next steps for Drumbeat were also discussed.  We learned that one of the tools Future Class brought to Drumbeat had been chosen by Mozilla to be sent to their open source development community, if the class so wanted.

That night (at 11:30PM!) there was a closing party at a club called City Hall with live music, free drinks for name tags, and lots of dancing… there was also a thumb war.

The End (of the festival)


An empty HASTAC Tent post Festival

Robbie's Tweet

The festival ended on November 5th. We all started making our way back home on the 6th and 7th.  Our biggest souvenir was the amazing experience.

Even though things didn’t go as planned, things happened as they should have.  We did not expect Mozilla to want to take on our project.  If the project will go forward is now in the hands of Future Class and that is an amazingly empowering position to be in, especially as students.

We also grew closer as a group.  Up until this point, we’d gotten to know each other, but we hadn’t really gotten to talk and learn about each other.

Aside from the awesomeness of Drumbeat and the important things we have to get moving on, I wanted to acknowledge and honor how important this was to me and, I think, our group. In these spaces we’ve managed to build important things between the six of us that I hope will lead to some long-term productive collaborations and friendships.

Whitney, from her first post Drumbeat email to the listserv

So, I leave with this is to be continued, by the individual members of the class. I am sure this experience was impactful in ways we are aware of and ways we are not… and it only took 2.5 days.

The Science Fair

What was the Science Fair?

From https://wiki.mozilla.org/Drumbeat/events/Festival/program/sciencefair

Get a sense of the scope of the Festival and seek out collaborators for the next two days — in a casual setting with some of the smartest people working on open education on the web today.

Remember Science Fairs in grade school?  The Drumbeat version involves grown-ups and cocktails, but it’s pretty much the same concept.  Smart people who are passionate about their super-cool projects — research, learning models, web projects, software, experiments — want to show you what they’re working on and get your feedback and ideas. They’ll bring out their prototypes, wireframes, maps, charts, and crazy ideas while you explore and engage. The Science Fair will include tables for each of the official tents and spaces holding programming throughout the Festival, so you can learn what they’ve got planned.

There will be prizes for participants who interact with the most exhibits!

I and one other person arrived in Barcelona the morning of the Science fair.  The other attendees from Future Class had been there 1-3 days.  Despite the jetlag, it was a great opening experience.  The space was dynamic and energetic and I ended up staying until 11:30PM and taking a taxi back to my hotel despite the 6:45AM arrival.

The Acoustics of the room meant we were unable to comprehend the keynote speech due to an amazing amount of distortion.  However, there was live music, and from this live music I was able to create the loop that is used in my video project and featured on this page. (If anyone knows the name of the group that was playing, please let me know!)

Science Fair Audio Loop

Future Class is Going to Drumbeat!

How’d this Happen?

I am almost positive that when the six members of Future Class signed up that none of us knew that Barcelona was going to be a part of the class agenda (we didn’t have a syllabus, bur rather a series of agendas).  

A Poetic Transcription Reformatted by WordPress

The class started with Cathy saying:

I want to find ways we can make your projects come true this semester

and make your dreams come true.

But I don’t know what any of us were dreaming of Drumbeat and Barcelona, until she followed that with this Other Poetic Transcription Reformatted by WordPress:

The Drumbeat Festival
We’re all inventing it
It’s kind of like burning man / or maker fair or
they’re calling [it] a folk festival,

We’re going to have something planned
by the time we get there
in fact a lot planned

but you don’t go to it like a normal conference

you wander around

you go from place to place

and you actually sit down and build things with people

and they want your input about what to do and how to do it
your actual input!

our thread is called Storming the Academy
and it’s all about how to take the principals
the open web

and collaboration

and use them to help transform higher education.

In the end, 5 of us trekked halfway across the globe to see what this Drumbeat thing was about as we “Stormed the Academy”.

Drumbeat for me as a Member of Future Class etc.

Going to Barcelona was probably the last thing I was thinking about. I’d not been in Europe for some years and hadn’t really thought about going back for anything other than dissertation research (two years away). Cathy made Drumbeat sound like nothing I’d experienced before. When it became clear that I’d be able to receive some funding to go I jumped at the opportunity.

It was a pivotal experience beyond giving me the information you are finding on this site. Being able to speak with the people who were attending caused me to critically question how I approach my research. It also made me think about how I can incorporate more openness in to my pedagogy when I start teaching regularly next fall.  Based on conversations I had with members of the class while I was there and since returning I am sure I’m not the only one who had what might be called a “life changing experience” at Drumbeat.

The Science Fair & Side Table Sessions

HASTAC tent in the sqaure

HASTAC Tent in Plaça dels Angels



This was a First

None of us had attended a festival like Drumbeat before.  We went with a carefully crafted schedule that filled every time slot with a main tent event. For every tent event there was a complimentary side table event scheduled that a member of Future Class was in charge of.  Future Class also took the lead on planning the Science Fair table.  Like most well planned events, things did not work out quite as we had hoped.

The Science Fair

Sam's Tweet

Sam's Tweet on the Science Fair

At the Science Fair Future Class debuted the low tech social network. It was meant to map connections people made at the event.  We spent the entire night enticing people to place themselves on the canvas via self-designed post it type notes with tidibits of information.  It was our first opportunity to meet and observe who had come to this Drumbeat festival.  We were all left in awe. We were in a room full of so many fascinating people, and that the fascinating people were playing with our canvas! The empty space of our idea became a cluttered with little squares that represented all the people we were coming in to contact with. Our success at the Science Fair made us excited to take it to the side table as an ongoing activity.

The Downside =(

We could not hear the keynote speech from Joi Ito due to the acoustics of the room where the science fair was held. I am pretty sure that was the only downside to the Science Fair.

The Tent

We had a full schedule for both days we were there and a beautiful handout created with all the information about what would be going on in the tent. Rather than talk about everything we had planned, I will share the schedule:

Storming The Academy Tent Schedule

Storming The Academy Tent Schedule

Storming the Academy Tent

First Event at Storming the Academy

The Side Table

I think we learned that there is such a thing as over planning. The side table schedule was a bust. During the first event it was swallowed by everyone who wanted to participate in Anne Balsamo’s session on minority voices in tag clouds. This also made our low-tech social network inaccessible (can you find them, and us in the picture to the left?).

I will take responsibility and acknowledge that my actions, insisting that the table stay inside the tent so our technology wasn’t an easy target for pick pockets (there were a couple of big robberies at the event) might have had something to do with this failure. At the same time, allowing Future Class students the ability to freely participate in the Storming the Academy events added a unique voice. Cathy pointed out on numerous occasions that “our tent was the only tent with actual students”.  Had we been outside we literally would not have been part of the tent.  We were more engaged as participants by giving our input than we would have been had we stuck with the rigid structured schedule we set up.

Solution and Outcome for a Failed Plan

Anything that needed to be covered by the side table was incorporated into the main tent events. Everyone who was supposed to present and engage an audience had the opportunity to do so. The solution, incorporating the class fullt in to the tent, was a positive thing because it also meant that Future class members who presented also had the main tent activity leaders as part their audience to provide feedback and mentor in real time.

The side table ended up downgraded (or upgraded) to an information post about Future Class and HASTAC.

Mozilla Drumbeat?

Mozilla + Learning, Freedom and the Web = ???

One of the unspoken questions I had, and probably the most frequent question from outsiders when I discussed the Drumbeat festival and Future Class, was “what is Mozilla’s purpose in putting on this festival?” or “What is Mozilla up to?”.   Mitchell Baker, Chair of the Mozilla Foundation, spoke on what Mozilla is up to during the opening day keynotes. Highlights that addressed this question for me are in the video above.

The bullet points below also helped answer the question of the what and why for me. They originally appeared on Mark Surmon’s Blog on October 31st:

Mozilla Drumbeat Logo

Mozilla Drumbeat Logo

Drumbeat in 3 bullets

  • Mozilla exists to make sure the internet stays open and awesome.
  • With Drumbeat, we’re moving beyond Firefox to build more things that make the web better — not just software.
  • We’re doing this by reaching out new kinds of people — teachers, filmmakers, lawyers, journalists. These people will play a key role in shaping the future of the web.

All of this is in line of course, with the Mozilla Manifesto, a manifesto that was required reading for future class.


Language, Place, Space

A question I had going in to Drumbeat, and one that I still have, is why Barcelona? I was hoping that once I attended drumbeat the reason would become more apparent; Perhaps it was a bastion of thinking of Freedom, learning and the web? Maybe the local school system is/was doing something super future thinking? Maybe Mozilla Europe has a big, giant installment? Perhaps Barcelona is home to the biggest hacker movement in Europe?

As far as I can tell, all the answer to the above questions are no, no, not really, and no.  It is to the point where when people ask me “how was Barcelona?” I honestly do not have an answer. The festival was kind of a Mozillaland (with a heavy North American Flavor) that was implanted on top of Barcelona. It was very disorienting both for me and for local people I came in to contact with.

That being said, it was nice to meet  people from the other side of the pond who had a much easier time travelling to Barcelona than they would have had travelling to North America. I am thankful for the voices I was able to hear that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Maybe that was the point?

Independent of Mozilla

Barcelona is a beautiful city. Unfortunately I did not have much time to explore. I did happen upon a random youth Rally to celebrate the Pope’s arrival in the city, an arrival that happened to coincide with the ending of the festival. I think the experience of the Rally was the only time I really felt like I was “in” Barcelona.  I captured some of the rally in the video above.