‘MozFest’ (short for Mozilla Festival) is the largest event that brings together open source, internet health and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence (AI) activists and communities from across the world. What sets it apart though is the diversity in formats that welcome participants from all backgrounds. At MozFest, you can learn coding at a workshop, share your ideas in a policy discussion, have a mind-opening Arts & Media experience, or just socialize with a blooming global community in many more activities. The MozFest Spaces are organised and co-created by a volunteer team of global Wranglers during six months.
Are you curious about how MozFest has been a journey of creative experimentation and problem-solving? In 2019, the book ‘How to MozFest’ wrapped up its best memories, adventures, and lessons learnt as a gift after the festival’s 10th anniversary. The book was also presented as a manual to foster and nurture open communities. Yet another big milestone for Mozilla’s hallmark event was 2021, the first year that the festival was completely online due to COVID restrictions. This limitation opened a wealth of possibilities to innovate and extend the reach of the event to bridge divisions. This experience brought together more than 9,800 participants from 145 countries, 907 presenters, speakers, and Facilitators who came together across seven days, with 15+ languages offered by Facilitators, of which 50% were women.
“Anyone who’s been involved in the Youth Zone can attest that if you really care about the internet and protecting it, you must engage the next generation of internet users and builders in your conversations. There are no better partners!” Dervla O’Brien, Youth Zone Wrangler at age 19.
One standout feature of MozFest is its long commitment to the younger generations. The internet and AI systems have an enormous relevance to and effect on the daily lives and lifelong development of our youth globally. Their digital footprint is increasingly used to monitor and control their behaviour by welfare systems, schools, tech companies, and parents. To repair this situation, we urgently need to include children and youth’s voices within the future of this technology. Since 2011, MozFest has given a space and a voice to youth. In 2021, its Youth Zone gathered 486+ participants under the age of 18, and 47 were actually leading sessions as facilitators. For 2022, the Space has been reimagined as ‘Youth & Futures’ and will be just as dedicated as ever.
MozFest is a powerful platform to empower the youngest. As Hannah McMullen, a Youth Zone Facilitator, reflected: “I never expected to start programming. I never expected to teach kids how to code. I never expected to go to MozFest, let alone present at it. Who knows what else I can do?”. At MozFest, we are driven to generate these small opportunities that impact and inspire young people to think big and do more. This can be by making friends, unlocking new skills, or upgrading their perspective as a global digital change maker. As a continuous learning process, the Youth & Future Space is dedicated to intergenerational activities as a “sandbox” for risk-taking to bring about a better version of ourselves in the digital age.
To achieve this, the Space is run by and for youth. Joseph Thomas is a software engineer whose first MozFest experience as a session Facilitator at 16 was so explosive, he was wired to the Mozilla community ever since. Dervla O’Brien is a software developer and poet who began her MozFest journey as a Wrangler at 19. She has advocated for an internet and social media landscape that reflects the values of more diverse cultures with ideas stemming from old Irish proverbs. Iseult Mangan is a teacher who has been co-Wrangling the Youth Zone with her 15 year old daughter Aoeibheann. They want to share the benefits that the internet and STEM digital learning have brought, compared to the ones they’d have in their hometown of Mayo, Ireland. Soledad Magnone is from Uruguay and develops projects on critical digital education. She began as a session co-Facilitator in 2021 and wants to broaden the participation of children and youth of Latin America for a better digital future for all.
“When young -people and technology meet in an open, collaborative, playful environment like MozFest’s Youth Zone, truly unexpected things happen” – MozFest book: Youth Zone: A New Generation For Internet Health.
The Youth and Futures Space at MozFest 2022 will focus more than ever on youth voice. We’ll still have the same interactive, and often youth-led sessions like “Code a game using MakeCode Arcade” and “World Landmarks with SketchUp” that have been adored year after year. But we’re also breaking new ground with sessions on topics such as “Participatory and Empowering AI for Children” and “Mobilizing a Generation of Responsible and Ethical Leaders”. Every session has been configured to be accessible to children and youth- avoiding stuffy one way “lecturing” in favour of truly intergenerational, engaging discussions. This year we are especially welcoming schools and organisations to MozFest within their curricular activities. This is such a magnificent chance to connect our youngest to the world and introduce them to the mosaic of topics we are passionate about.
Have a sneak peek of the Youth & Futures schedule, read our participation guideline, start a conversation in our Space Slack channel, and book your ticket now! There are flexible pay-what you-can fares.