Mozfest: my second day.

Sunset seen thought the windows at the Mozfest venue.
Sunset seen thought the windows at the Mozfest venue.
I’m writing this on the train, and I suspect I’d only get a chance to edit after the whole thing has finished, so apologies for the slightly stream-of-conciousness approach.
I missed about half of the second day arriving just before lunch.  In the process I managed to miss the opening speeches.
Funnily enough I’m generally in two minds about opening speeches.  At most conference I avoid opening speeches and keynotes like the plague, but mozfest is subtlety different: spending an hour or two listening to words like ‘sharing’, ‘connecting’, and ‘openness’ is like a small massage for the soul even without the informational context.

Today I spent quite a lot of time on the topic of food

Regular readers will remember my rants on the topic of vegan events like ‘vegfest’ – it turns out that Mozfest, the technology conference, does vegan food and debate better than vegfest does.  That’s like finding out that Microsoft makes better cakes than Kipling.  Typically conference food for vegans is nice, but contains about 200 calories, which means that often pop out to a local pub during the session after lunch, but Mozfest provided a stonkingly good spread.
The hyperlocal low-carbon lunch.
The hyperlocal low-carbon lunch.
After lunch, wandering around without my glasses on (a random, but enjoyable way to explore) I found myself at a table sent for lunch. It turned out to be a separate lunch provided by some mozfest attendees to promote discussion – the food was ‘low-carbon’ sourced from near the conference venue (given we were near the O2 arena, this is nontrivial) and that was the topic of conversation for an hour.  It was a perfect example of the wide range of approaches and topic areas around Mozfest.
Then there was vegan cake from The Depressed Cake Shop, bought for a donation of £1, which will go to MIND.

People

It wasn’t all stomach oriented – I met Metod Beljec who was making a language of emoticons: this isn’t conceptually far away from communiKate and we had a lot to talk about. I met designers from Holland who were running workshops on what the future looked like using newspapers as prompts and chatted to some lovely 3d printing experts who gave me the keywords I need to put into Google to make a disability project happen.   I spend an hour working with a group in the ‘TV hacking’ session and enjoyed getting a wider view than the one I’d built up working on Supertitle.

The Language of Mozfest

One of my favourite things of the event is listening to the way people talk – there’s a real sense in some of these areas that people are developing a distinct set of terms and languages for working in the areas they are. I heard ‘onboarding’ used as a verb yesterday, and it got me thinking about the levels of language – there’s a language used by the programmers and developers (that I like to think I speak) but there is another one used by the designers and facilitators that is newer (and still evolving faster that a language normally does), deals with more social concepts, and is being used to map out an area that I’m slightly unsure of…

Sudden Sadness

One minor thing is, that though I was talking to a wide range of people about technologies would be really distributive in the disability space (Oh, hey, now I’ve started talking like Mozfest) I found I was generally the one bringing forward the disability space as the application.  Once I realised that late on, I started to look around and realise I hadn’t seen any wheelchair users at all at the conference, which for a 900 person technology event in a really accessible bit of London, is a bit odd. I’ll see if I can get some demographic information from the organisers but I worry that disability is a little underrepresented in the festival. (It’s very likely I just wandered past the relevant sessions without paying attention of course…)

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