As ‘Mozfest’ flew the flag for the free web, we went along and got an education 

Words: Stuart Derrick

Mozilla Festival Ravensbourne free web

As I enter Ravensbourne college for the biggest ever Mozfest, my first thought is that this event would give a corporate events planner a nervous breakdown. In the spirit of the open web, which is exactly what Mozfest celebrates and promotes, it’s controlled chaos. Think student sit-in, rather than traditional conference.

Festival director Sarah Allen, who has worked on the event for web developers and content providers since 2013, sums it up. ‘The charm of Mozfest is that it isn’t built by one person, but by a network. It’s an opportunity to form a connection with that network of people who want to save the open web.’

All around me, several thousand curious, opinionated and passionate web geeks maraud across six floors of the digital media college next to The O2. It’s an intoxicating experience to wander the building and find something happening in every nook and cranny. I stop and chat with people, play with technology, scratch my head, and grab noodles and coffee to power me through.

Mozilla Festival Ravensbourne

I get sick of being shoved from pillar to post at events, and this is a deliberate opposite – what I take away is proportionate to what I put in. 

The open nature of Ravensbourne feeds into Mozfest’s collaborative vibe. There are few walls and I can float in and out of as many sessions as I please. On the ground floor, the Walker Space is hosting a series of dialogues and keynotes on weighty matters such as online privacy and security, innovation, web literacy and inclusion. The real action is to be found in the scattering of debates, seminars and happenings that have been crowdsourced and voted for in advance by delegates. 

Mozilla Festival Ravensbourne

It’s a real hotchpotch: political, creative, artistic, commercial, experimental, educational and interactive. Did I understand it all? No. Did it make me think? You bet.

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Seminar topics were voted for by delegates ahead of time, meaning engagement and attendance figures were high

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AV MozAv (Mozilla’s internal team)
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This article was first published in SquareMeal Venues + Events, Spring/Summer 2017