Mozilla Drumbeat: Learning, Freedom and the Web

By in (un)conferences, digital on November 8, 2010
Last week, from Wednesday to Friday I was in Barcelona, Spain for the first Mozilla Drumbeat festival on Learning, Freedom and the Web.  I was there as part of the HASTAC Storming the Academy tent and as a student.  I didn’t get to wander too much, but that is okay.  I am using the Storming the Academy tent as a field site for an ethnography project so it makes sense.

It is also so interesting to hear what people are saying.  I went to drumbeat with one question:  “How do you imagine the involvement of tradition forms of Higher Education in the future of Freedom, Learning and the Web?”  I actually had responses from everyone I spoke with other than “but how are we going to credential” which is not something that has happened yet in academic settings.  Most people there were in agreement that the approach to learning and spaces of learning needs to be more holistic.  However, people were still unwilling to completely let go of some of the ideals of industrialized education.  They are just re-imagining them and making them more flexible.  I would have to do more reflecting and exploring to determine if I think that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Things that were great:

  • Gunner, quite possibly the best facilitator ever
  • The quality of everything
  • Conversations
  • Technology
  • Variety of people there

Things that could have been better:

  • More local involvement (I am still not clear how locals are kept out of a conversation on the city as a classroom)
  • Volunteers to translate so participation is more open
  • Finding a means to encourage exploration
  • Putting people/tents closer together
  • Drink/Snack Stations (coffee, water, fruit, crackers throughout the event)
  • Longer time for sessions

So, on to the points that I am trained to observe that were reproduced (as is normal and also abnormal) at the event.  There was a very clear lack of diversity.  In terms of people of color there were a few of us.  I believe there was one other black American female and one European African female (she was amazing.  Her name was Nadia, and her project makes my heart sing.  It is called the Prototype Project, and yes, you should check it out).  There was also at least one black American male from, from Chicago, a Saffa… and… I might have missed some people.  There were some asian males, from all over, meaning US and UK asian ;0), but not as many as one often sees at big tech events.  I also came in to contact with one asian female from the states.  So that was interesting.

Now on to the abnormal/positive observation: THERE WERE SO MANY FRIGGIN’ AMAZING WOMEN at the event.  I didn’t realize, though I’m sure I’ve seen it before, that Mitchell Baker, the Chair of Mozilla Foundation, is a woman.  And she was just one of too many to name who were in attendance.  She and Cathy, the prof from the Duke class I was there with, gave the keynotes.  That was super empowering.  Also, even though they didn’t speak about it openly, the people who were interested in using digital media and the open source culture for advocacy were there, and we found each other.  That was a wonderful thing.

New Things I learned about that I am now all about from Drumbeat:
(there was so much stuff I missed and didn’t get to play with though.  I am so sad about that.  Even the things mentioned above I only saw briefly.)

So, I will go in to more detail about what I observed/did/the point was for me in the digital performance ethnography thing I am in the process of working on.  I will post and update and link from this blog once it is ready (hopefully by the end of this crazy month).

I am hoping I get invited back to next year’s event and that next year is in Amsterdam… but Amsterdam is just a personal preference.

One thought on “Mozilla Drumbeat: Learning, Freedom and the Web

  1. 1

    This is terrific, Jade. I hope you share it with the conference organizers and also reblog it on FutureClass. Right on the mark, per usual!

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