News Labs Report from Mozilla Festival 2014

News Labs Report from Mozilla Festival 2014

Ravensbourne College was host again to this year’s amazing and energy filled MozFest, the tribal gathering of the distributed Mozilla community of passionate enthusiasts, developers, campaigners, and agitators. BBC News Labs were present and correct and making waves as part of the ‘Source Code for Journalism’ track, which set out to investigate, “the opportunity to make newsgathering a more collaborative process, developing compelling stories, driven by data, that change the world we live in”.

The team took time out for a browse around the festival and spotted the following noteworthy products, themes and initiatives.

Mozilla’s webmaker project dedicated to helping everyone “create something on the web” continues to build on it’s successes of bringing the teaching and creation of the web within range of everyone. Present this year was also appmaker, a free tool for creating compelling mobile device based experiences that was being targeted at the formal learning market.

Alongside webmaker were a range of other initiatives designed to lower the bar for anyone seeking to get started with coding or to improve their skills. Among the wealth of initiatives on offer was Kano, an out-of-the box Raspberry Pi driven kit that encourages young people to build their computer and then code it and EPIK who were encouraging coding by hacking the ever popular minecraft.

‘EPIK - “These guys were great definitely a successful way to get kids coding.’

The Kenyan based brick-like BRCK was gathering a lot of attention with imaginative thinking underway of how this “rugged, self-powered, mobile WiFi device”, could be used to provide connectivity in previously unconnected areas.

Peter Richardson of Mapzen’s session on OpenStreetMap and WebGL was impressive with his demo of Tangram, a flexible mapping engine, designed for real-time rendering of 2D and 3D maps. Also on offer was his brilliant (and open source) 3D terrain rendering.

For sheer fun the Duo Disco was hard to beat; an app for creating a silent pop-up disco, where one one song appears on two people’s iPhones simultaneously, but because you can’t hear anyone else’s tracks, you need to start chatting with people to find out who your song buddy is.

For more on Mozilla’s own take on the festival, have a look at their ‘we made this together’ page, and also worth a look is NPR’s Melody Kramer’s write up of the festival including her coverage of the BBC News Lab’s projects.