Joint Mozfest session/Write up

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Write-up from the MozFest session

The session took place on Saturday 26 October and was attended by around 20 people in total. The group was very international, with people there from London, Los Angeles, Berlin, Copenhagen, Pittsburgh, Nepal, Chicago and other places. There was lots of useful discussion about how groups working in the open space can collaborate more closely.

This is a collection of the raw notes from the session itself. Hopefully some of those involved will take part in helping to take these notes and converting them to a coherent set of principles, or an agreement, or an action plan – whatever we feel happy with and whatever will allow the ideas and proposed collaborations to flourish.

Notes from the whiteboards

Four whiteboards were available for session participants to make notes and list thoughts. The notes are below.

Products we can make together

  • Shared / combined toolkits - such as a booklet about how organisations can become open
  • A shared web presence. Note: work on this has started. The initial action has been to create a blog aggregator which brings together content from the blogs of open organisations.
  • Literacy toolkits
  • An open day for the various volunteer communities to build links between the organisations and identify mutual opportunities. (This idea was very popular)


  • To make “open” the new “green” - so it is integrated with strategy in the same way that environmental concerns are now
  • To give everyone globally, and locally, access to knowledge
  • To not duplicate effort and to help each other to reach our goals

General insights

  • Wouldn't it be great to be able to have our organisations offer taster training courses to each other so staff and volunteers can learn about the organisations and communities
  • We need something to act as an online open hub
  • We could bring together our information into a web page focused on open like Mozilla Thimble (note: some of the text here is illegible as it seemed to rub off the board)

Project ideas

  • A blog planet aggregator for organisations at the session (see note above)
  • A booklet, jointly produced, explaining what 'open' really means
  • A website where relevant materials can be shared and easily localised
  • A support community backed with regular catch-ups or Google hangouts
  • A joint “We Are Open” event for “non-believers”
  • A platform independent offline dictionary (directory?) in collaboration with the open community


As well as the conversations and the whiteboards a low-level mapping activity / thought shower took place. This was enabled by sharing a stack of coloured post-its. There were a series of questions listed and participants were encouraged to share their thoughts on each one.

What problems are we trying to solve?

A theme that emerged was inequality. Here is a list of the thoughts shared in response to this question.

  • Most people don't care about copyright – everyone is a pirate
  • Resources are directed at the western world, reproducing inequality
  • “Liberal bias”
  • Duplication of work
  • Provision of structured information
  • It can be hard to contribute to Wikipedia
  • Other educational organisations can see our organisations as a threat
  • There isn't a way you can find out about all the open projects easily
  • Free knowledge for all
  • Localised knowledge
  • Publicly funded resources are not open as default in the UK (and other places)
  • To educate people about the natural world and inspire people to take better care of it
  • People don't realise the power of open
  • Giving people basic information about open knowledge
  • Publicly funded organisations don't release their content under an open licence
  • Free access to factual information for everyone
  • Connecting up people and groups across the world working on open knowledge
  • Free as in “free speech” rather than free as in “free lunch”

A second theme emerged here which is: Why Open? What is Open? Here's the list for that theme.

  • People don't know you can contribute to Wikipedia
  • Turning open data into open knowledge – something that has a positive impact on the lives of citizens
  • Democratise knowledge
  • Supporting free and open knowledge in all its forms
  • Sharing knowledge with everyone on the planet for free
  • Are we Communists? Are we somehow suspect?
  • People understanding that they have a vested interest in open
  • Not getting broad enough information
  • Spreading information to locations and groups with minimal access to knowledge bases
  • Reducing costs
  • Understanding how we can bridge the digital divide
  • Who can change content and information?
  • Trust and reputation
  • Verifying information
  • Not enough people know or understand what open is!
  • Encouraging institutions to use open licenses and release their content
  • We're isolated and don't talk to each other enough
  • What is open?
  • How can people make practical use of open tools and resources in their field
  • Helping people to learn what the possibilities are
  • Educate people about “open” - tools, resources and methods
  • People don't understand why closed is bad and open is good
  • There's a disconnection between research design and research practice
  • School of Open has a course! Also, Wiki Project Open!
  • Commercial reuse licenses make people feel uneasy
  • Disparate and scattered resources
  • Lots of people are working on wikis so why is the editing interface so crappy?
  • We wait too long to share – it doesn't have to be finished, or even work!
  • Not enough crossover between communities of volunteers
  • Make it easy, legal and simple to share your work
  • A lack of collaboration on improving shared tools, especially the editing interface of wikis
  • Localisation of contributing to the project's information
  • There are lots of people working in open but we aren't recognised as a sector – lots of agreement on this point!
  • We might be seen as a cult!
  • Privacy can be an issue
  • Several types and definitions of open can be confusing

How do you collaborate?

This was another question posed in the session. It's worth noting that there was a lot of crossover in the answers to this question and about how we communicate. There's a bit of a blurry line here that could do with some clarification as communication and collaboration can be the same thing but not always. The answers to this question are listed below in two themes, online and offline


  • We don't collaborate enough!
  • Collaborate with other open communities
  • Share research
  • We could have lightweight check-ins. (conference calls, hangouts etc)
  • P2PU uses discourse tool
  • Wikis
  • Google docs
  • Twitter
  • mailing lists
  • Google groups and list servs
  • Monthly or weekly calls
  • Skype
  • together.js
  • OSQA (stackoverflow clone)
  • Webinars
  • face to face
  • email
  • etherpad
  • wikis


  • Demonstrate / illustrate benefits of “open” together
  • Meetups
  • Building challenges / courses for “lay people”
  • Co-hosting events
  • Workshops and coffee
  • Informally at events
  • Visiting events
  • Co-writing publications, whether online or in print

Where do we put the stuff we make?

This question didn't gather too many responses but the ones that were received were quite interesting. Looks like there's scope for improvement here.

  • An aggregator for events, blogs and resources
  • Blog, newspapers and social media
  • Some shared online archive with a shared tag
  • Wikimedia projects
  • Places only accessible in the connected world :(
  •, blogs and publications
  • Educational institutes

What is your audience?

Lots of different audiences here but there are plenty of areas with crossover. Knowing the audiences that our organisations share can help to shape the way we communicate about our collaborations.

  • Citizen scientists
  • Policy makers
  • Students
  • Educators
  • Librarians
  • Trainers
  • Publicly funded organisations
  • Lay people
  • Everyone!
  • Students, teachers and those who use the internet
  • Creative Commons affiliates
  • The mass market
  • People interested in experimental learning
  • People who want to learn more about the web or about the rest of world (and who is doing what and where)
  • Researchers, designers and educators in ed tech (learning, diy, tools, games, badging etc)
  • Other open community members
  • For advocacy: policy makers, institutions, governments

What information do we produce?

This is probably key to helping to establish what how we can collaborate and set the frame for what we may produce together.

  • Examples of proposed solutions and ideas
  • workshops
  • blogs
  • connections
  • badges
  • toolkits
  • toolkits for citizens
  • courses, software and toolkits
  • online courses
  • training programs
  • why open licenses are good
  • articles
  • reviews
  • offline teaching materials
  • awareness of digital theft
  • an encyclopaedia, a media repository, a map, a dictionary...

How do we communicate with each other?

This was the final question. As mentioned above there is a strong crossover here with the answers to how we collaborate.

  • Facebook
  • IRC
  • Physical community meetup
  • Blogs
  • Twitter
  • Events pages
  • Email
  • Wikis
  • social media
  • events
  • There's too little offline communication
  • We don't communicate very well!
  • Researchers use text but could be more effective with visual media (video, concept drawings and so on)
  • video chat
  • skype

Next steps

Everyone involved in the session, whether as a facilitator or participant, and anyone else that is interested in developing greater collaboration, is encouraged to expand on these notes and to put forward some ideas, suggestions and begin working together!