Mozilla Global Sprint

So we completed our two days of participation in the Mozilla Global Sprint on May 10/11 2018 (sorry for the delay in posting this but getting it all together nearly killed the both of us to near-death and we’ve had to lie still in darkened woods far from everythink for a while since). It was basically a series of workshops held at the Redmond Community Centre in London N4. And it was an amazing vibe with a real sense of collaboration and community and – dare I say it, yes I dare – fun, also! And we had an amazing turnout – even more so when you consider that it took place on weekdays – with just short of 40 people turning up in all, with a few more local community group members also participating…………

We’ve ended up with a bunch of outputs including some much clearer ideas about how to proceed with a prototype iteration of the Platform site. And more than anything we’re still marvelling at the time and energy that everyone brought to it………

On which note let us thank again all those who participated and made it such a blast……..I won’t be able to remember exactly what everyone did but in terms of the preparation for the day we’d particularly like to thank AS, CEW, MD, and CZ. Also huge bone-squeezing hugs to MK for being so utterly on it with the practical organisation and to ARL for running large parts of the first day; both contributions lightened a huge part of the responsibility and made me smile wanly from time to time from within the prison of my stressed-out mind. Similar gratitude and eternal warmth to MD for her workshop on Community and to C for seamlessly picking up where AR had to leave off. Big big shout out also to GLC from the Royal College of Art who pretty much single handedly ran day 2 of the whole thing…….despite the attempts of various of us to do the whole herd-of-cats thing on him!
And we-are-not-worthy-bows from everyone to A (again) and LC for helping out in the kitchen for so long on the first morning.

Above and beyond all that thanks so much to everyone for the amazing contributions you made to the workshop and for just giving up your time and brains and utterly baffling enthusiasm to the process… thank you so much to…CSK, TB, PS, CL, MO, CR, AB, GCC, DJ, BAF, EM, DP, NO, IJ, EE, JM, TF, DR, AB, D, AG and RB……

Thanks also to SM, for joining from Oslo for a while and for being passed around on the laptop like a baby. Oh yeah and for having, like, the most calming voice on the planet and that……..

Apologies to BJP (South Africa) and MV (India) for our failure to get hooked up with them in a similar way. You were missed and I hope we can get your participation in some way in future. We did manage to show some of B’s inspiring art pieces on computer and projector and we’d like to thank him very much for sending those to us……..

And most importantly, a massive, sky-filling, sun-obscuring, gasp-inducing thanks to everyone at the amazing Redmond Community Centre in Woodberry Down, and in particular (but not limited to), V, M, C and, in the kitchen, N! You guys were just fabulous and we literally couldn’t have done it without you. And thanks to Red Moon Roots community kitchen for dinner on the second evening…

And finally a little ripple of gunfire-like applause for Sophie Varlow for having the brass neck and general chutzpah to put this thing together from more or less scratch by button-holing everyone involved in it individually at various points on the planet over the last year without even any threats or intimidation but just charm, energy and some invisible secret power that no-one has tracked yet, not even Zuckerface hisself. Nice one Sophie! You can have a nap now. But not for too long………!

Oh and lest I forget, one last Qomolungma-size pinnacle of thankyous goes out to the all-seeing, all-knowing, never-sleeping, boundlessly generous, thoughtful, precise yet energetic, KM, our guru from the far-side of the Earth! We wouldn’t even be in the Mozilla Open Leader programme if it weren’t for the fact that K rescued us from the waste bin of history, dusted us down and has talked us through Everything – no, literally Everything, – every other week, despite his 17 jobs and mentoring of like, 5 other Mozilla groups, and running his own digital project and the fact that he lives in a time zone that is so far from ours that he had to limit himself to no sleep at all at the end of a long day and bend space-time around himself just to support us. And he’s not only been brilliant but he’s also sufficiently confident and committed to this Platform idea that we are talking joining up with his own project in some way (more to follow on that). And all I had to do to get this insane level of support and wisdom was poach a couple of eggs and slap them on some avocado and tomato just, like, once, about 6 months ago – amazing eh? Anyway – big salute to K!

Now. Mozilla are looking for feedback from Sprint participants and for updates to the article by Kevin Zawacki about the Commons Platform (see in a recent post by Sophie….) and we’d love it if any of you felt able to post some stuff about your experience of either or both of the days…….

Thanks again to all of you including those who couldn’t make it but have contributed along the road that got us here. We’ll be moving ahead with some focussed stuff designed to get us a basic site up pretty soon and we hope you’ll all be there…………..

Love, peace, ice-cream, and balloons…….xxxx

PS Photos of the Sprint will follow as soon as I’ve been through them and checked them off against the photo-consent forms that people either signed or didn’t……..👍

An article about us by Mozilla

Social Media, Decentralized

A spotlight on the Commons Platform, a 2018 Global Sprint participant

It’s been a rough several months for the world’s dominant social media platforms. The recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal was followed by a bruising congressional testimony for Mark Zuckerberg. And Twitter’s Jack Dorsey admitted earlier this year that abuse and harassment are overwhelming the platform.

As a result, users, policymakers and activists are abuzz about potential solutions. And while many talk of regulation, Sophie Varlow and Nick Wood suggest a different approach: introducing a new product from scratch, with radically different principles.

“You can’t change things by pushing against them,” Varlow says. “You need to build a new model.”

Contributors to the Commons Platform mull ideas. Photo via Rikki / @indyrikki

Varlow and Wood are the UK-based community organizers behind the Commons Platform, a nascent social media platform with core values like privacy and decentralization. The Commons Platform is participating in Mozilla’s Global Sprint, an annual, distributed hackathon taking place May 10 and 11. They’ll be working from the Redmond Community Centre in London.

Varlow and Wood began thinking about the Commons Platform long before Facebook and Twitter’s latest episodes. The idea came not from specific incidents, but larger, systemic problems with today’s social media ecosystem. Like “the impacts of not having consent within tech,” Varlow explains. “Or not owning our own data. These relate to structural inequalities within society.”

“We’ve been talking about these things for years,” Varlow adds.

So how is the Commons Platform different than the status quo? “One of the central differences is that everyone would own their own data,” Wood explains. Further, the platform itself would be owned by its members. Varlow likens it to public land: “No part of it can ever be owned by any individual or group in perpetuity.”

Contributors to the Commons Platform mull ideas. Photo via Rikki / @indyrikki

She adds: “Because it is not driven by the attention economy, advertising, and data revenue, people are not encouraged to spend time scrolling. They can curate their content to find the things that are interesting to them and connect to people, issues, and organisations that they care about quickly.”

Privacy features will be baked in from the start. And the Commons Platform is meant for communities, not just individuals. Groups will visit to organize, openly share software, and collaborate on solutions, the duo says. Developers won’t need permission to add or edit software. “We’re putting power back in the hands of communities, so they can create solutions that make their lives better,” Varlow notes.

Currently, Varlow, Wood and collaborators are finalizing the project’s values, aims, culture and ways of working. During the Global Sprint, they’re planning to work with like-minded designers and developers to take the next step forward: “The website, the technical infrastructure, the community standards,” Varlow explains.

But the Commons Platform welcomes more than just technical volunteers — any potential user or community is welcome to share feedback and ideas and co-create the platform. “We try to break down barriers between experts and nonexperts, users and developers,” Varlow says. “After all, we want to build a more equal society.”

Learn more about the Commons Platform. Learn more about the Global Sprint