Sur la route de la Geek I'll still be a geek after nobody thinks it's chic !


Mozilla at the First Saturday of Free Software

I talked about that in my last article about Mozilla Spaces. In this blog post, I said that it could be great to take over public places, such as museums. Well, it's in preparation, because on July 7th, MozillaFR dream team invested the First Saturday at the City of Science and Industry of Paris.

This event is organized every first Saturday of each month. The goal is to install GNU/Linux on computers that visitors bring. This may range from last fashionable EeePC to the tower recovered in a garage sale last summer. It is set since 2008 by Parinux, a LUG (Linux User Group).

What will we do during this event? Well, it will depend on what we found. Program : reception, support, help and information about projects, explanation of all kinds, evangelization, ... And why not making converts or even volunteers, maybe!

Whether you're already a fan of Mozilla or simply curious, whether you use Linux or not, please visit us at the CSI, July 7th, 14h-18h.

Access: 30, Avenue Corentin Cariou, 75019 Paris. Niveau -1 Carrefour Numérique.
Metro : Ligne 7, station Porte de la Villette
Bus : 75, 139, 150, 152, PC1 et PC2, station Porte de la Villette


More Mozilla Spaces…

Last February, I wrote about Mozilla Spaces, a project about Mozilla offices, with co-working inside. After sharing this article with members of Mozilla Reps, I got a lot of feedbacks, mostly very positive. And some made me think about issues and extensions that this project could take.

Mozilla office, yes, but if not?

The first problem is: what if there is no Mozilla office in the city or if the office is too small for hosting events? In this case, it's hard for a Mozillians' community renting an office space (in Paris, it is extremely expensive, even for special events less than a day). A first line of thought would be to invest places that are already "open", according to the different kind of events you want to organize:

  • cafés: many cafés / bars can be reserved for informal community events, small meetings conferences. For my part, I have organized this kind of thing in Paris, Corcoran's, Great Canadian, Players or IT Place. But these are only examples ;).
  • hacker-spaces: a little more underground, these places are often large sympathizers of free software / open source. You just have to come and talk with persons present to see if the place can host an event. Still in Paris: LeLoop, BlackBloxe, TMP/LAB...
  • co-working places: here, you must find out about this places, because if it's possible to come and work individually, organizing a bigger event may be paid. For Paris, the best is La Cantine, but it is not alone: ​​La Ruche, La Mutinerie, Soleilles, Next & Co-working...

There are other ideas that can be explored for "affiliate" Mozilla Spaces:

With all this, there is work to do!

Present, captain!

Second important question: what kind of presence can we organize? It depends on the presence of an employee whose mission is to do this (I talked in my previous article about a community manager associated with this Space, who would manage activities around the office and Mozilla affiliate places).
Typically, this presence includes a large number of events:

  • every day presence: welcome and assistance, driving in the office and projects, translation,... With this real presence, we should add a virtual presence, of course.
  • occasional workshops, with communities, on a specific topic: it's already common in Mozilla Paris, with workshops such as TupperVim, Documentation of Wednesday,...
  • workshops more "generic":projects' presentation, education, support, evangelism,...
  • workshops on selective news: SOPA and PIPA made great noise in the U.S., Mozilla reacts about these law. Little noise was made about ACTA, HADOPI, LOPPSI or some laws in the same vein. In a less politicized way, we can do things during Internet's festival, Music' fest or the Women's Day, for example.

Enlarge your UX!

This last question is from my own idea: how can we improve the user experience around this kind of project? When I come in a Mozilla office, what I expect of it? What can I win by coming to such a place? What can make me want to return or to participate more?

Awaiting responses, more for the next episode 😉


Education, gamification and Mozilla ? The Open Badges solution

Studying education in general and more particularly in Mozilla project, I have found a project named Open Badges. To give some origins, Open Badges is a project from Mozilla Drumbeat, powered in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation.

But before presenting Open Badges, I have to present gamification. Gamification? Another marketing « buzzword », will you tell me? In fact, we could say that it's been a while since we talk about gamification. Since the arrival of « serious games ». Wikipedia made a great definition of this term :

Gamification is the use of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts. Typically gamification applies to non-game applications and processes, in order to encourage people to adopt them, or to influence how they are used. Gamification works by making technology more engaging, by encouraging users to engage in desired behaviors, by showing a path to mastery and autonomy, by helping to solve problems and not being a distraction, and by taking advantage of humans' psychological predisposition to engage in gaming.

The technique can encourage people to perform chores that they ordinarily consider boring, such as completing surveys, shopping, filling out tax forms, or reading web sites.

During a TEDx Boston conference, last year, Seth Priebatsch gave a really great presentation of gamification mechanism :

During this conference, he gives many examples, but only one will be useful to explain Open Badges : school. Indeed, school could be seen as a game: there are levels we have to pass, scores to reach, challenges to complete, even competitions to win, sometimes. School, whether primary, secondary or higher, for small kids or adults, is a great environment for gamification. Imagine a few minutes:

I'm a student, I learn things and fill out controls which verifies my understanding of my knowledge. Instead of traditional sheets, I use a computer, with quizzes or serious game that I have to finish to complete controls and have badges. Here, badges are not like FourSquare, a simple image. This is a set of meta-data, which permit to know when I got my badge, in what conditions, if it has a validity period, etc. All my badges are gathered in my backpack, which allows me to see badges collected, group them and share them with my parents, my friends, my classmates and even my future employers. I do an internship. My manager, which is a very nice guy, prepared a small end-of-course, with some badges. He turned out that during my internship, I showed a great sense of community project management and a talent for web integration. He wants to reward me, and thus the future recruiters can see how I'm unique. So I put this badge in my bag, in the group « Web Skills ».

And if all this were true? And if we could push gamification to simply « plug in » a badge system to a third party website. Basically, an API gamification.

Well this is precisely what is proposed to be Open Badges. An API which permits to design and install badges on a website. User side, a website « backpack » to manage all the badges and share them with whoever I want. In the education field, it may help to highlight profiles with a higher degree of accuracy and on a wider range of diversity. And we can even imagine a third player: the badge integrator, as BadgeStack, which develops badges for educational institutions in the United States.

There are many applications, only limited by our own imagination. So long live Open Badges 🙂


Mozilla Spaces

DY Hack-A-Space

When I attended the Mozilla Festival last November, I saw an unusual workshop: you had to "hack" a space to make it the ideal place to work, create, innovate, in short, change the world. Initially, you had a plan of an empty space and add parts, equipment, furniture, arrange it to fit your needs. It was then possible to create the office of our dreams with modeling clay. The final step was to share plans, to create a debate around what should be a workspace. The project was called "Hack-A-Space".

Recently, Mozilla launched a web page named Mozilla Spaces:

Mozilla Spaces are open working environments where Mozillians can hack, code, design, research, create, engage and contribute to building a brighter future for the Web. Keep reading to learn more or check out the map above for info on specific locations.

And I don't know why, but this project remind me about the Mozilla Festival's workshop. As this workshop suggested, I share my version of Mozilla Space "hacked", in Paris' sauce, of course 🙂

  1. In downtown, close from a metro station: it must be conveniently accessible.
  2. Unlimited Internet, high availability, unfiltered, uncensored: it sounds trivial, but nothing more irritating than a cut Internet during a meeting or when you're researching for a project. Similarly, nothing more boring than blocked ports when we want access to Jabber to contact people, for example.
  3. Comfortable desks, in relatively large quantities, in a calm environment: it sounds trivial again, but nothing more annoying than a creaky chair or an unsteady desk. Small offices isolated must be added, where it may be possible to isolate themselves to think or to phone.
  4. A conference room: to make events more or less public, conferences, demos, lessons, playing geeks in short.
  5. A kitchen and a relaxation area: we all know the coffee machine's phenomenon that solves bugs, or at least is useful to disconnect and socialize 5 min.
  6. Accessibility to all: triviality again, but nobody thinks about it. In the same way that web integrators often forget the integration of accessibility, we often forget that a work place must be accessible for a wheelchair.
  7. An on-line forum, dedicated to the Space: to keep in touch afterwards, there is no better way than the Web. For keeping exchanges about past events, announcing next ones, requesting emergency assistance, etc. A instant channel and a recording one is the perfect combo (for example, IRC + wiki).
  8. A community manager: to organize life in this kind of place, an office manager is not enough. It needs someone close to communities, capable of directing newcomers, organizing events (geek or not geek), speaking for Mozilla, linking projects to the Space.

Imagine that this co-working space dedicated to the Web is available in Paris! Just a quick scenario. I am bringing a project. It may be an association project, an software's idea, even a project to create a business, why not? I'm home alone, and do not necessarily like to work at my place. Also, I did not necessarily have all the skills for my project. I seek a place where I'm pretty sure of finding people to help me, or even to take part in the project, if it tells them. I see this kind of spaces, where meetings are organized about documentation, code, open web, standards, [add your topic here] are organized. A beautiful dream of geek, isn't it?


2011 November – Ubuntu Party

It's been a long time that I posted something in my blog. With my final dissertation, this last month was quiet difficult. But I'm back !

Last week end, Ubuntu Party 11.10 take place at Paris' science museum, Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie. It's an event organized by the French community of Ubuntu. During 3 days, this association invested Carrefour Numérique of this great Paris museum to install its boxes of goodies, its volunteers, speakers and other partner organizations. So I held on Mozilla stand for 2 days (Friday and Sunday), supported by excellent Clochix, Florian, Paul, among others.

Let's start with negatives points, it will be done:

  • for Ubuntu-fr: the first day, the stands were installed outside of the Digital Carrefour. Most of visitors came to ask us the way to expositions, to the subway, to the toilets, etc.. We even made a game with others volunteers from Wikimedia France to see who would have the most of questions not related to its business. I think it's Wikimedia which won on this one!
  • for Frenchmozilla and Mozilla in general: there was a big lack of goodies, particularly for volunteers. It should be a great idea to develop conference / stand kits, so we would not have to reinvent everything for each event. A volunteer flyers, like April "Guide du bénévole" could be great. It would be usefull to reprint Manifesto in French.

Now, positives points:

  • the Ubuntu Party is a great "inter-projects" networking event: it is easy to have news of other French associations, such as April, Framasoft, Wikimedia, OpenStreetMap France, etc.. It helps to update the news of each of these projects.
  • the Ubuntu Party is organized in a large Parisian museum, which brings a lot of visibility, especially to a general public. It's in direct contact with users of free software and potentially volunteers for local projects (I am myself a Mozilla contributor recruited during an Ubuntu Party, thank you Pascal 🙂 ). To give you an idea, the Ubuntu Party attracted 3,258 visitors over 3 days, with 995 people on the first day, and it was a holiday.
  • at the Mozilla booth, we used a demo of MDN to "attract visitors": the Nyan Cat in HTML5. This demo is a magnet for questions!

Some remarks nor negative nor positive, that could improve Mozilla's involvement in this type of event:

  • we had Mozilla Manifesto in English ... They are all gone, despite of the language!
  • we must think to schedule workshops in such conference to highlight new features and technologies used by Mozilla.

As every 6 months, a very addictive and exciting event. And last but not least, all the pictures I took of the Party is on Flickr CC-BY-SA: => HERE <=.