100m

My next 100 days at Mozilla

Last May when I was just about to start working at Mozilla, Nick Dennis gave me some great advice. He said that I should thrash out with my line manager what I should focus on during my first 100 days, defining what ‘success’ looked like at the end of that period.

Boom!

For whatever reason, I didn’t take Nick’s advice and, indeed, felt a bit lost at sea by Christmas. That’s not anyone’s fault, particularly, it’s just that I was used to working in an institutional environment (schools/universities) and Mozilla’s, well… different.

sea

So I thought I’d take the opportunity when changing teams within Mozilla to belatedly take Nick’s advice and discuss with my new line manager Chris Lawrence what I should be doing from now until Christmas. Admittedly, that’s a little over 100 days, but it’s close enough. Here’s what we came up with – and what that includes, in no particular order:

1. Release the Web Literacy Standard v1.0 at MozFest

  • Work with Michelle Thorne to encourage session leaders to tag their sessions with skills and competencies from the Standard.
  • Work with Laura Hilliger on relevant session proposals relating to the Standard
  • Propose a facilitated version of the community work from calls.

2. Transfer the Web Literacy Standard to webmaker.org

  • Work with the Webmaker team to integrate the Standard across webmaker.org.
  • Liaise with Chris Appleton on the design work around the Standard.

3. Prepare for a Web Literacy Standard alignment contest

  • Aim for January 2014 and announce at MozFest.
  • Work with organisations who are interested in aligning before then.
  • Find people to judge competition.
  • Work with MozLegal and other people who will be able to help (like Chloe Varelidi)

4. Dive into Mentor Team-related stuff

  • Focus on breaking silos and making links with other teams.
  • Be a thought leaders post-Mozilla Summit for ‘One Mozilla’.
  • Work with the Mentor Team to bring Open Badges into their projects.

5. Set up a cross-Mozilla Foundation community working group

  • Focus on sharing good practices.
  • Systematise internal and external-facing processes.
  • Potentially take over running of the weekly Webmaker call.

Obviously, there’s other things that are assumed (like building up a collection of animated GIFs and deploying them appropriately) and other things that will emerge but, for now, I think that’s a great starting point!

Main image CC BY quapan

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I am not Richard Stallman

I am not Richard Stallman

Introduction

Yesterday I headed to Lifehacker to get my weekly dose of their excellent ‘How I Work’ series. However, this week they decided to hand it over to readers using their blogging platform (Kinja). I decided to take part and you can see my response here (warning: includes photo of my messy study!)

Marc Scott picked up on this via Twitter and wrote a masterful post entitled How I Do My Computing by !=Richard Stallman. A sample:

The Internet on my laptop runs really slowly and it’s quite difficult to see sites because of all the toolbars that take up half of the screen. Also when I load the Internet I get annoyed by all the pop-ups that suddenly appear for adult dating sites and on-line gambling. I used to get lots of annoying messages on the Internet about things like ActiveX, but a friend showed me how to change my security settings so they don’t come any more.

Class.

I am not Richard Stallman

At the end of Marc’s post he linked to original post by Stallman (of which his was a parody).

Wow. Stallman is hardcore:

I occasionally use X11 for tasks that need graphics, but mostly I use a text console. I find that the text console is more efficient and convenient for the bulk of the work I do, which is editing text.

and:

I generally do not connect to web sites from my own machine, aside from a few sites I have some special relationship with. I fetch web pages from other sites by sending mail to a program (see git://git.gnu.org/womb/hacks.git) that fetches them, much like wget, and then mails them back to me. Then I look at them using a web browser, unless it is easy to see the text in the HTML page directly. I usually try lynx first, then a graphical browser if the page needs it.

That’s as close to tinfoil hat-wearing as it actually gets.

The Moral

As Seth Godin often says, we need to surround ourself (intellectually, if we can’t physically) with outliers in order to challenge our thinking:

The crowd has more influence on us than we have on the crowd. It’s not an accident that breakthroughs in music, architecture, software, athletics, fashion and cuisine come in bunches, often geographic. If you need to move, move. At least change how and where you exchange your electrons and your ideas.

After all, as they say, bad habits are like a comfortable bed: easy to get into but hard to get out of.

There’s a political theory called the Overton window that is used to describe the narrow range of ideas that the public will accept. The degrees of acceptance goes like this:

Overton assigned a spectrum of “more free” and “less free”, with regard to government intervention, oriented vertically on an axis. When the window moves or expands along this axis, an idea at a given location may become more or less politically acceptable as the window moves relative to it. The degrees of acceptance[4] of public ideas can be described roughly as:

  • Unthinkable
  • Radical
  • Acceptable
  • Sensible
  • Popular
  • Policy

So at the start of the year, before the NSA revelations, it would be Unthinkable for an ‘ordinary’ person to adopt anything close to  Stallman’s approach. Now, however, it’s at least Radical if not Acceptable or Sensible.

Conclusion

I’m not suggesting that we crypto everything or become paranoid to the extent that it consumes us. What I am suggesting (and what I’m doing myself) is to review the connected technologies and services I’m using. If you want to do something similar then I highly recommend you check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Who Has Your Back? 2013 and, if you’ve never used Linux before, give elementaryOS a spin.* It’ll probably be an upgrade from what you’re using.

Questions? Comments? I want to read them. Add yours below!

Image CC BY-NC Maurizio Scorianz


*Want to go a step further? Try Tails.

Weeknote 33/2013

Weeknote 33/2013

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m up in Dundee for eAssessment Scotland on Friday running a session with MyKnowledgeMap on Open Badges. The rest of the week I’ll be meeting with my new Mentor team colleagues and thinking through more things related to the Web Literacy Standard.

discours.es

A new blog: discours.es

This is just a heads-up that I’ve started (another!) new blog at discours.es. I’m using it for commenting on stuff in the news that I think’s important. At the moment that’s mainly NSA/privacy/security related stuff but will change over time.

You can subscribe to the RSS feed here: http://discours.es/feed*

I reserve the right to Megazord all of the following together at some point, but for now:

While I could have extended my use of the tumblr-powered Thought Shrapnel blog for comments, I don’t like the way tumblr is a silo. And its SEO is terrible. Instead, for discours.es I’m using postach.io, a really neat system that uses your Evernote account as a content store. That means I can easily blog offline – and I’ve always got a copy of what I write locally on my machine.

I did consider Posthaven (aiming to replicate the functionality of the now-defunct Posterous) but decided against it. I like the free-at-point-of-access-and-pay-to-upgrade model. 😉


* If you haven’t found a Google Reader replacement (or don’t currently use a feed reader) may I recommend Feedly?

Mozilla lanyards

Transitioning into a new role at Mozilla

TL;DR version: My ‘home’ at Mozilla is moving from the Open Badges team to the Mentor team. In reality it’s a kind of floating role that spans several different teams and focuses on using the Web Literacy Standard as ‘glue’.


I joined the Mozilla Foundation as Badges & Skills Lead 14 months ago. I’ve never really had a job description as such but, from the start, the plan was for me to work within (what was then) the Learning Team as an Open Badges evangelist/advocate in Europe. And, while I wasn’t doing that, I was working on a Web Literacies framework to underpin Mozilla’s Webmaker programme. I ended up writing this white paper.

With the help of a burgeoning community, we pivoted the Web Literacies framework I came up with into a Web Literacy Standard. Excitingly, it’s gaining some traction – and should gain even more when we launch v1.0 at the Mozilla Festival in October.

I’m delighted that Open Badges has become wildly successful; it seems not a day goes by without another big announcement with a big name backing it or an organisation aligning with it. I think that’s for all of the reasons that drew me to the project back in 2011 before I joined Mozilla.

The world doesn’t really need me out there all the time telling it how awesome badges are. There’s plenty of people doing that on Mozilla’s behalf. I’m not giving up my Open Badges evangelism completely* but I’ll be focusing more on the Web Literacy Standard. Given that we’re looking for people to align with the standard using Open Badges, there’s no escape in any case. 😉

We’ve got broadly three teams within the Mozilla Foundation:

  • Mentor team – work with educators to focus on teaching and learning the Web
  • Open Badges team – build, maintain and work with organisations integrating with the Open Badges Infrastructure
  • Webmaker team – build products like Thimble and Popcorn Maker

I’ll be floating across all three using the Web Literacy Standard as the glue to bind together the teams. I’d like to thank Carla Casilli who’s worked with me over the last few months on the Web Literacy Standard. I’ll be reporting to Chris Lawrence now instead of Erin Knight.

So to a great extent, it’s as you were. However, if I look at bit confused at any point when you meet me you’ll now know why: I’m getting to grips with a slightly different role that will shift my landscape and day-to-day interactions a bit. 🙂


* We’ve got a couple of new members of the Open Badges team, including Meg Cole-Karagoy (marketing), An-Me Chung (partnerships) and Jade Forester (global liaison).

Weeknote 32/2013

Weeknote 32/2013

This week I’ve been:
  • Taking holiday on Monday and Friday. We spent the weekend at a family party and at Legoland (which was awesome), driving back on Monday. I took Friday off as I had a migraine on Wednesday and a day full of calls on Thursday.
  • Talking with UNESCO about a range of ways they can work with Mozilla, including Firefox OS, Webmaker, Open Badges and the Web Literacy Standard. Exciting times!
  • Hosting the weekly Open Badges community call. While I had a migraine. I could hardly see the screen because of the aura I get!
  • Persuading Decoded to align their learning activities with the Web Literacy Standard – and be judges for part of an upcoming contest we’re planning to align with the standard.
  • Planning an eAssessment Scotland session with Steve Sidaway on Open Badges.
  • Sorting out my move to the Mozilla Mentor team with Erin Knight and Chris Lawrence I’ll explain what’s happening in a separate post soon.
  • Sending my Mozilla-provided Nexus 7 to Jade Forester as I use my iPad Mini all the time now.
  • Getting new colleagues Meg Cole-Karagoy and An-Me Chung up-to-date with the state of Open Badges in the UK/Europe.
  • Talking to Telefonica about how they can use Open Badges and the Web Literacy Standard.
  • Planning an updated version of the School of Webcraft with P2PU.
  • Liaising with OCR and Computing At School about next week’s meeting on Open Badges for professional development. I’m looking forward to catching some of MozPub afterwards, too.
Next week I’m planning to work from the Ignite100 co-working space in Newcastle on Monday, spend Wednesday in London for the OCR/CAS meeting, and then it’s Maker Party Newcastle next Saturday!
Weeknote 31/2013

Weeknote 31/2013

This week I’ve been:

  • Talking with Robert and Liz from Manchester Creative Studio School about using Open Badges for their nascent curriculum.
  • Ordering Maker Party swag for Maker Party Newcastle.
  • Hosting the (now bi-weekly) Web Literacy Standard community call. You can catch up with that here.
  • Adding translation branches to the Web Literacy Standard on Github at the request of several community members.
  • Presenting to the weekly Mozilla All-Hands about the Web Literacy Standard on Air Mozilla. I also took up a good chunk of the weekly Webmaker call.
  • Tweeting as @WebLitStd in addition to @dajbelshaw.
  • Replying to those awesome people who have given feedback on the standard via this form.
  • Contacting Mozilla Legal to start the ball rolling for a potential contest to align with the Web Literacy Standard (in the style of the Mozilla Game On competition or MDN Dev Derby).
  • Checking out a co-working space in Newcastle courtesy of the good people at Ignite100.
  • Planning (with Michelle Thorne) for the v1.0 launch of the Web Literacy Standard at the Mozilla Festival. I wrote an overview blog post about what’s happening next here.
  • Advising the Open Badges team on my process for recording community calls and post them for others to catch-up.
  • Taking Friday off as holiday to travel down with my family to London(ish) for a 50th birthday party. That’ll be great, but what I’m really looking forward to is going to Legoland afterwards!

Next week I’ll be taking Monday off then I’ll be planning Web Literacy Standard-related stuff and talking to UNESCO and P2PU about various things. If you know of an organization that might be interested in aligning with the standard and being a judge for the contest I mentioned, get in touch!