Mozilla India Community Meet up

Mozilla India Community Meet!!This was the stuff going on in my head since a long time after I got the invite. On 2nd of April I started off from home sweet home, Kannur, Kerala to Chennai.

Though every single time, when I sit in the railway station and see the train coming to take me from Kannur to Chennai, I always have second thoughts of running back home. But this time, it was very different. The very thought of meeting many Mozillians and having an awesome time, got be running inside the train with joy!

I reached Chennai at around 6 am in the morning, came home, freshened up and got a call from Damini, “Do I have to take anything specifically?” , Nah, not required.
Fastforwarding the other parts, I reached the station, met a friend of mine who lives near Chennai Central, went to the compartment. After a while Naresh reached. Damini also reached soon.

We started discussing random stuff and having fun on the way. Stories about each other, to events we’ve conducted to random facts like “Did you know that the eye sight of people does not really change after 21 years”. Not mentioning the person who said that 😛

We reached Secunderabad in the morning after a fun filled journey. Soon enough we reached The Park Hotel.

On reaching the hotel, we checked in at the reception. We met Ankit at the reception. Later, we saw Gautham, Sayak and Vineel too. We then proceeded to our room. The view from the room was pretty good, and so was the room. We could see the beautiful Hussain Sagar lake from our room.

As soon as we kept our bags, we went for breakfast because we were told that the session would start soon. We hurriedly ate our breakfast and got in to the conference hall.

We entered the room to find out that it had already started. We grabbed our seats next to Brian King. I looked to my left to see Gen Kanai and Madalina Ana. It was great to see these wonderful people.

Discussions were going on about the Stepping down of Brenden Eich . Mozilla hitting the media for the wrong reasons in the past week. There were sharing of views from the Community and Gen, Brian and Madalina made us aware of the importance of standing together as a community and dealing with such delicate issues.

After that, Vineel briefed us on the agenda for the day and the task force that were working.
Myself and Damini joined the Webmaker Task Force while Naresh joined the Localization, which was lead by some amazing people from Red Hat.

The Webmaker taskforce discussion was started by Ankit. Gauthamraj , Vikas and Tripad were the others present in the discussion apart from myself and Damini.

General Idea:
The general idea in the first half was to give a brief on what is the particular taskforce about and it’s achievements from January 2013 to April 2014. The second half of the discussion was to  brainstorm and build a roadmap for the future and set specific target and goals.

The brainstorming resulted in elaborating the types of events we conducted until now, issues we faced during the events and how we could enhance the quality of the events in the future by implementing new stuffs to teach the web.

After the webmaker session was done and the taskforce Mentors Gauthamraj and Ankit presented a brief session on what is the Webmaker Task force and all the activites conducted till now.

After this session, there was a discussion about FSA’s by Umesh. We discussed on the problems faced by the FSA’s now and the possible ways in which we could overcome these problems.

Two of the major issues that were listed out were:

  • Lack of swags and budget for an event for some Firefox clubs.
  • Permission for FSA’s to conduct events in their colleges.

Solutions to these above problems:

  • Swags  and Budget are a very important factor. Hence, the FSA’s are initially requested to  conduct few events without these so that the Local Reps in their region are confident about requesting Swags or budget to support them next time when they are in need.
  • Perhaps Mozilla India could have a template of an official letter stating that the particular FSA is authorized on behalf of Mozilla India to conduct the event in their University or College.

After that , Galaxy discussed about the Events , Campaign and Logistics task force.
Jafar gave insights on the  Design as well as Social media Task force.
The details about Technical and Documentation task force was given by Kaustav.

The day got over really quick. At night, the Mozillians walked to Ohri’s for a wonderful dinner.

After the dinner, we all returned back to our rooms and retired for the day.

Next day morning I woke up and saw a reply for the mail I had sent to Doug Belshaw about the “Community Speaks”. I was really happy that he had replied, after which, I completed the blog post : https://dunebuggie.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/community-speaks-from-mozilla-india-doug-belshaw-speaks/

As I was taking a shower, I heard the doorbell. I opened the door to see Sujith and Sajeev. I told them that I’ll catch up with them in a while. I got ready and went to their room to see Varun and Gaurav. We were joined by Damini and Diwanshi for breakfast.
After breakfast, we all went to the Panoramic Hall for the meet.
The session started off with the I am a Mozillian video. Each time the someone the face of someone present there was shown, we cheered!


Gen gave a talk on Million Mozillians, which was on building a strategy to reach a Million contributors focusing on the transition from Users to contributors.

After this, we went back to our respective taskforces for the discussion for the day and building the roadmap.
The webmaker team got back to work!

Discussions for webmaker:

  • What exactly is Webmaker?
  • It’s more than just Thimble, Popcornmaker and X Ray Goggles
  • The fourth element we’re gonna add for webmaker events: Appmaker
  • Makerparty 2014 from July 15th to September 15th.
  • Web Literacy as  a major part of Webmaker.

Tracks:

  • Theme based makes. Example: Independence day
  • Tagging the makes with regional tags or #india so that it could be easily remixed when needed
  • Web Literacy Mapper: Including Web literacy in future events and taking up Mapping activities.
  • Webmaker Mentor Tasks: All the webmaker mentors in India should prepare atleast one Popcorn or Thimble make every month so that it can be used as a template. This ensures activity of the mentors and increases the number and quality of the makes.
  • After each event, the organizer of the event could be given access to a Google docs form where he nominates best makes from his event. Assessing the number and quality of makes, the best makes could be featured on Mozilla India Blog or maybe creating one called webmaker.mozillaindia.org(Over to technical taskforce).
  • Ensuring the importance of Offline activities :
    Considering a country like ours, where Internet and other things might not be stable, offline activites plays an important role. Some of the existing offline activities could be found on Webmaker.org with tag ‘#offline’. Importance to activities like Paper prototyping and other physical ones is needed.
  • Demo of Together.js, a collaborative and fun way to learn by making. This is another concept which will be showcased in upcoming webmaker events across the country. http://i.imgur.com/C48Dyra.png
  • Privacy and Security using Webmaker:http://blog.mozillaindia.org/823
    This would also include clear definitions of the words “Hacking” and “Remixing” which is often mistaken, especially when using tools like X Ray goggles.
  • Hive India and collaborations with Webmaker
  • Appmaker to be showcased in upcoming events. This would be able to sort out the issue of advanced users who want to get involved with webmaker. Considering the level of expertise, we could even ask them to contribute to Webmaker by giving them the link to Github.
  • Proper process to follow up to the participants after the event is done, which would benefit in getting more contributors.
  • Webmaker L10N: Translating the basic landing page of Webmaker into local languages.

Here is the link to the etherpad: https://india.etherpad.mozilla.org/Mozilla-India-meetup-Feb14-Tracks-Webmaker?

Before the end of the session, during the breaks, we got some awesome swags!
After the session, we parted ways-some to their rooms, some went out, some stayed back.
Me and Sujith went to his house to meet his parents. Unfortunately, they weren’t home. On our way back, we bought the thing that Hyderabad was best known for! Not pearls! It’s the Hyderabadi Biryani ! How could one come to Hyderabad and not have the Biryani!
It was indeed a travel through 3 different Biryani Zones in 2 days: From Thalassery Biryani to Dindigul Thalappakatti Biryani Chennai to Hyderabadi Biryani !

At night, we had an awesome time with Komal, Jafar, Naresh, Sujith and Damini.

Discussing stories, and making fun of each other, the day was almost over. But we always have time for nightwalks. And nightwalks, means selfie time!

We forced ourselves to go and sleep since we had an awesome session awaiting us the next day same day.

The next morning we got ready in our super awesome Mozilla India tees. Which again meant we had to take a selfie.

We first had a session by Deb and Kaustav on Developer Engagement and Evangelism task force.

We then had recap and highlight sessions by the taskforces.
Post lunch, Madalina talked about SUMO, and the contribution from India.

Gen talked about the launch of Australis. Yes! We’d love to have a launch party in India!

Brian and Jane talked about Firefox OS and Market research.

Post the sessions, it was group pic time!
The making here
The normal one:

The crazy one:

The webmaker team:

Fortunate enough to meet these awesome people! The Malayalees present at Mozilla India Community Meet have a click together

MozAliyans with Deb:

Seriously awesome time with y’all. The thought of getting back to Chennai and preparing for exams was just horrifying.
But then they say, good times are short lived. They also do say, When winter comes, can spring be far behind?

Looking forward to meeting you all again soon…

Flickr link to images : https://www.flickr.com/photos/mozillaindia/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/king-molan/sets/72157643390438705/

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“Community speaks” from Mozilla India-Doug Belshaw speaks

We recently started of with this initiative called Community Speaks. This is an initiative in which every week, we would be interviewing one Staff/Community contributor at Mozilla. Every week, the team would be getting in details of the person who would be interviewed and Mozillians can send in the questions they want the the person to answer. These would be moderated by the team and selected questions would be answered by the person being interviewed.

This week, as we started off with this initiative, we are proud to have with us, Doug Belshaw.

Doug is Web Literacy Lead for the Mozilla Foundation. In this role he works on the Web Literacy Map and Webmaker badges as part of the #TeachTheWeb team. Prior to this, Doug evangelised Open Badges for Mozilla, having come across them in 2011 during his time working in Higher Education. Doug started his career as a teacher and then Senior Leader in English schools.

Below is the excerpt from the interview with Doug Belshaw.

 

 


 

Q. From a History teacher at High school, to the Web literacy lead at Mozillla, how was your journey?

 

Doug: Hi Shreyas, thanks for inviting me to do this. I find other people’s questions about my life a great chance to pause and reflect on who I am and what I’m doing. I don’t think we get enough of a chance to do that in our normal, busy, working days.

 

To answer your question, it’s been a fairly indirect, meandering journey. My first degree was in Philosophy and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do afterwards. My father was a teacher, and he encouraged me to do my teacher training. I ended up loving it and then moving into Senior Management as Director of e-Learning of a large (3,000 student) academy.

 

Teaching while being a senior leader and doing a doctorate is tough, and it came to a point where something had to give. In the end, I decided to finish writing my thesis while working in a non-teaching role in Higher Education. It was during this time that I found about Mozilla’s (then) new Open Badges project. I started finding out more about it, showing up to community calls, and telling others.

 

To cut a long story short, I was eventually invited to be a judge for the DML competition around Open Badges. There was a job going on the Open Badges team and I was invited to apply for it. The rest is history. 😉

Q. Of course it wouldn’t have been a been a bed of roses even though you make it seem easy, what were the difficulties and challenges you faced and how did you overcome it?

 

D: I guess the main shift was moving from a education-focused organisation where I was interested in technology, to work for a technology-focused organisation where I’m interested in education.

 

Working from home has also been more of a challenge than I expected. It’s better and worse than I thought it would be at the same time. Better because I see a lot more of my family than I thought was possible with a full-time job. Worse, because my home is now my workplace and there’s always things to do! It’s difficult to separate the two. Something that’s neither better nor worse is the way that I interact with colleagues. Interacting primarily online rather than face-to-face is sometimes good, sometimes bad, but certainly different.

Q. Was the transition from a teacher(a person who interacts a lot with students) to leading one of the projects for an organization like Mozilla(a job that would require you to sit behind the desk) difficult? What do you miss the most?

 

D: Well first of all it’s worth saying that I don’t sit behind a desk a lot. I try to vary where and how I work. So, for example, although I have got an office that’s separate from the house, I don’t always use it. In fact, associating different tasks with different places can be beneficial and focus the mind. I’ve started using a DIY standing desk while I’m on calls, and I’m writing this in the armchair next to the bay window in our bedroom. Other places I work include coffee shops, our dining room table, and the library!

 

I do miss teaching, but not necessarily teaching in the context of formal education. The hours were crazy, and there was a lot of bureaucracy and ‘jumping through hoops’ that you had to do. It used to really frustrate me when you couldn’t do things that you knew were in the best interests of students.

 

But, yes, I do miss interacting with young people at a formative stage of their lives. While I might have a shallow impact on a global scale, when I was a teacher I could have a much deeper impact on a local scale.

Q. List out 5 things that you like at Mozilla

 

D: Oh… where to start?

 

  1. The community – without which we wouldn’t be ‘Mozilla’

  2. How talented and committed my colleagues are.

  3. The way we are treated equitably, as people who are acting out of the best intentions for Mozilla.

  4. Travelling. I wouldn’t have said this last year when I was doing too much, but I do enjoy meeting new people and seeing new places.

  5. Working in an open way. It’s such a refreshing change from how I’ve been forced to work in previous organisations!  

  

 

Q. Open Badges was a project that you worked on. How did the concept of Open Badges come into existence? Where do you see the future of Open Badges?

 

D: Well I wasn’t there right at the start, but I understand that the idea behind open Badges began at the Drumbeat Festival in Barcelona in 2010. Mozilla, P2PU and some other folks came together to re-imagine credentialing on the web.

 

I found out about in 2011 when Mozilla was testing the idea with a P2PU course. Looking back, it was such a simple (yet brilliant) test and paved the way for everything that’s followed. The technology behind it is impressive, but that hasn’t been the biggest stumbling block. That would be how long it takes people to realise that the way things are is necessarily not the way they have to (or should) be.

 

Excitingly, Open Badges is such a big thing that there’s no need for me to go out and evangelise it on behalf of Mozilla. In fact, while the technical work will continue at Mozilla, there’s a newly-formed non-profit Badge Alliance headed up by Erin Knight (co-founder of Open Badges) that’s working on growing the ecosystem.

 

What’s next for Open Badges? Well, I suppose once BadgeKit is launched and it’s easier for organisations to create and issue badges, we’ll see them being used instead of – or as well as – certificates, diplomas and the like. It’ll take a while before people use them really innovatively in important settings, I suppose. That’s the nature of innovation!

Q. Your current project is the Web literacy map. Could you brief us about the general concept of drafting a Web literacy map? Also, what is the status of this project as of now?

 

D: Yes, I’m really excited about the Web Literacy Map. Just as my experience as an educator drew me to the revolutionary potential of Open Badges, so I think there’s some exciting work to be done around Web Literacy.

 

The original idea was to come up with a Web Literacy ‘Standard’ – and, in fact, I started working on that with the community  while I was on the Open Badges team. We quickly realised that ‘Standard’ was the wrong word, however, and what we were actually doing was provided a map of the territory of web literacy that others could use.

 

Right now we’re at version 1.1.0 of the Web Literacy Map. As it currently stands, the competency layer is relatively mature and stable, but we need to do some work with the skill layer underpinning those competencies. Working with the community to produce this has been such as successful experience that the competency layer of the Web Literacy Map will soon be used to form the UX (user experience) of webmaker.org/explore.

Q. Having been involved with Mozilla, there sure would have been some awesome moments where even though you did something small, you might’ve felt really happy and consider it as your personal achievement. Could you tell us about one such instance?

 

D: It’s difficult to point to something that’s a personal achievement because almost everything I do is in collaboration with a colleague and/or the community. However, something I’ve been very pleased with recently is a new prototype that Atul Varma and I have been working on.

 

It’s called the WebLitMapper. Just as you’d use a bookmarklet to add things to social bookmarking sites like Delicious, Diigo or Pinterest, you can add resources relevant to the web literacy to the WebLitMapper. The tags you use are from the competency layer of the Web Literacy Map.

 

I mentioned it in a meeting a couple of months back and some people thought it was a good idea while others were skeptical. It turns out that, after testing and iterating with the community, it’s something that people teaching the web really value. So I’m very pleased about that.

Thanks a lot Doug. We would like to thank you for spending time to answer our questions. We are indeed proud to have you as our very first member under the “Community Speaks”. Kindly let us know if you have any suggestions/tips/wishes for us.

 

D: I’d like to thank all the Mozillians around the world for their efforts, especially those in India who seem to be doing such a great job at teaching the web!

 

Thanks very much for inviting me to be the first in this series. I’m very much looking forward to further contributions to ‘Community Speaks’.  🙂