Mozilla Festival 2012

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 19, 2012

I spend a lot of time, honestly more than I’d care to admit, considering the benefits of developing for the web vs developing native apps. Both approaches have their merits, but right now, native apps win for me, mainly because of the performance lag and bandwidth restrictions inherit in web apps. Many work great, as long as you’ve got a fast, low latency Internet connection. Web apps just aren’t there yet, but in the back of my mind the advantages to developing on an open platform gnaw at me. No one knows the open web better than Mozilla, which is why I’m glad to see them pushing into the future with the 2012 Mozilla Festival in London.

We want everyone to tap the full creative power of the web.

I remember when Mozilla was born, rising from the ashes of Netscape. According to Wikipedia, the Mozilla Foundation was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2003. As a non-profit, for-the-public-good organization, Mozilla, and of course Firefox, are unique in the tech field. They are not trying to sell you anything, but more importantly, they are not trying to sell you to anyone either. Mozilla truly believes that the web is for everyone. What this festival represents is another step forward in the advancement of the biggest development platform ever made. The Mozilla Foundation is good.

This year the festival is exploring seven themes:

  • Hackable games
  • Making the web physical
  • Webmaking for mobile
  • Coding for kids
  • Web-native cinema
  • Source code for journalism
  • Skills and badges

From that list, the two themes that stand out for me the most are Webmaking for mobile and Coding for kids. Mozilla’s upcoming Firefox OS should make the Webmaking for mobile sessions very interesting. Even more interesting, as a father of curious kids, is the Coding for kids theme, which so far has three sessions planned:

  • Youth Storytelling with Popcorn
  • Alligator Clip the Internet to Your World with MaKey MaKey
  • Make an animated GIF comic

While each of those is sure to appeal to a large number of youth, I hope to see more basic web development sessions added to the list before the festival. Getting kids interested in some basic HTML, CSS, and Javascript would be perfectly in line with Mark Surman’s claim:

We want to move people from using the web to making the web.

I agree. I volunteered at our kids elementary school one day for career day where I gave a very brief, and very basic over view of how the Internet worked. While I was actually talking to the kids, more than one teacher told me afterwards how informative my talk was to them. Most people have no idea how these magic little boxes work, or what the infrastructure of the web looks like. Making technical knowledge like this available to kids gives them a good basic knowledge of an important resource.

Having one of the themes of the festival oriented towards kids has another great side effect; it teaches the kids the importance of an open web. The more they understand about how the web was born, and how it is built today, the better chance they will have at protecting it in the future.