Last chance to make my notes from MozFest before they slip from my mind.

This was my second year attending, and it was just as great and inspiring as last time.  If anything there were more talks that I was interesting in attending than last year.  (Could have been the whole Decentralization track that added to that.)

We kicked off Friday with a stall at the Science Fair.  3 hours flew by.  Lots of interest (with a good percentage drawn over by Wall-E on our stall).  We had a ‘Guess the Shadow CO2’ competition, where people took a stab at the embodied CO2 emissions produced by the manufacture of either a laptop or a smartphone.  A free Fixfest t-shirt to those within 20%.  I think we gave away just two.  Guesses were all over the place, frequently an order of magnitude out, which was interesting.  I guess CO2 just isn’t that widely discussed.

The view from the stall

Saturday kicked off with Tomas Petricek demoing The Gamma Project, a tool for ‘open data-driven storytelling’.  Pretty cool, a quick way to turn a CSV of data into charts, with a unique idea being that the code and the data is very tightly embedded into the document displaying the results, to make research more reproducible.  A very cool feature was the ability to add a ‘guess’ function, a simple bit of interactivity to get the reader more engaged with the article.  I caught a bit of the tail end of a talk by tech lawyer Mishi Choudhary.

After lunch was a hands on session with Dat led by Max Ogden, where we went through try-dat.  Very very cool stuff.  I haven’t completely wrapped my head around it or its seemingly endless use cases just yet.  Starting I believe from a way to store and disseminate large datasets peer-to-peer, it seems to have grown into an all-purpose peer-to-peer protocol.  We for instance worked on a self/peer-hosted webpage (replete with many photos of cats.)  It was described during the session as like a combo of git and bittorrent.

After this, a great panel session on moving the open web movement forward with Ryan Merkley of Creative Commons, Katherine Mayer of Wikimedia, and Mark Surman of Mozilla.  Then Ugo gave a talk on the benefits of repair and the growing threat of hardware obsolescence due to lack of software support.

Ugo’s talk

Wrapped the day off with a session on Beaker Browser led by Tara Vancil.  Again very cool stuff, of which I haven’t yet fully wrapped my head around it.  It feels like there could be a possible indieweb argument, in that theoretically there’s no single host of your site.  Even hosting is decentralized.  But perhaps that’s tangential to indieweb.

Also some great random conversations, with the chap behind Stencila, “the office suite for reproducible research”, and with Debs from AfroTechFest.

The common threads for me on day 1 seemed to be data visualisation and data decentralisation.  There were simply too many sessions to attend, with multiple cool ones overlapping.  Almost an embarassment of riches, but it’s surely a sign of a vibrant community.

 

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