The Wire

Webmaker Generation: Notes from the Mozilla Festival

“We want to move people from using the web to making the web.”

-Mark Surman, Executive Director of Mozilla

Photo credit:
(photo credit:

It’s been over a week since I returned from the Mozilla Festival in London and it is still the only thing I can talk about to anyone (apologies to friends and co-workers). And so! To continue to spread the nerdy post-#Mozfest joy, here are some of the highlights, tools, and projects that will hopefully inspire you to join the Mozilla Webmaker movement too.

What is Mozilla Fest?

First, you need to know Mozilla if you don't already. You’ve heard of Firefox, right? Well, Mozilla is the nonprofit organization - and open-source software pioneer - who built the Firefox web browser and so so much more. Mozilla’s mission “is to promote openness, innovation & opportunity on the Web.” The annual Mozilla Festival brings together programmers, educators, developers and anyone else who’s interested learning about and playing with the future of the internet.

(photo credits above and to the right: hacktivate learning tumblr)

Why was Mouse there?
Mouse joined our friends in the Hive Learning Network NYC (including the Global Action Project, Rev-, and Radio Rookies) to each host working tables in an area of the festival called the “Hacktivate Youth Laboratory” for anyone who agrees that web literacy is a critical addition to the "3 R's" (Reading, Writing, and aRithmatic). To find out more about all of the Hive member projects in our MozFest area, check out Hacktivate Learning Tumblr.

At Mouse's table, I teamed up with fellow educators and Mozilla programmers to brainstorm new tools, activities and methods for teaching young people how the web works. Our session ended up with with tons of amazing ideas including a quick and fun “SEO Battle” lesson-plan (available on the MozillaWiki as a Hacktivity Kit here) where you practice Search-Engine-Optimization by competing to design a website in Thimble that becomes the top search result in Google. In addition to adding webmaker tools like the Hackasaurus X-Ray Goggles to Mouse Squad curriculum this past fall, we look forward to using the ideas sparked at this session in more Mouse curriculum and beginning to build a Webmaking Specialist Badge in the future.

So, how can my squad start Webmaking?

There were so many ridiculously awesome projects at MozFest that it is impossible to share them all, but here are a few tools that your squad can start playing with now to make the web your own.

xrayandthimble.pngMozilla’s X-Ray Goggles and Thimble:
These easy-to-use, no-download tools let you remix existing websites (X-ray Goggles) and build and share out your own (Thimble). Mouse Coordinators: Want curriculum to help you integrate these tools into your squad meetings? Check out the Hacktivate Learning section of the Mozilla Wiki for activity ideas and lesson plans.

Mozilla Popcorn:
Ever want to “view source” on videos the way you can with websites? Well, Popcorn lets you remix and enhance video - building interactive, easily shareable and collaborate-able media online. The brilliant Georgiana from Rev- taught me how to use Popcorn and in 15 minutes we released this silly ‘popped’ video about dinosaur extinction (which you should immediately hack and add to yourself).

download.gifMeemoo is a web-based, open-source creative tool maker that lets you open, hack, and remix web apps - like Arduino but for the web. Folks at MozFest used it to make hilarious animated gifs, but the possibilities to make awesome webstuff are limitless. Check out this demo to learn how to use Meemoo. Or click here to make a flipbook (like the Mouse Squad one to the right that I did in 3 minutes).

Waterbear.pngStill in its "alpha" stage, Waterbear is an open-source web-app that makes programming fun and easy. Similar to Scratch, you use drag-and-droppable blocks of code to make apps that you can use and share anywhere with an internet connection. It even works to program Arduinos - so Garage Robotics Specialists should definitely check it out. So so amazing.

MaKey MaKey:

For everyone who has ever wanted to use a banana as a spacebar (I know you’ve all thought about it) or buckets of water as a game controller - MaKey Makey has the invention kit just for you. Turn the random stuff around your school into touchpads that can play with the Internet using the MaKey MaKey board and some alligator clips.

No more downloading the 1,000,000MB Processing app to get started on your Arduino projects - Codebender lets you program Arduino code online! Hooray! They are working on building tutorials - but there are plenty of sample libraries to learn from here.

For more info about Mozilla, the festival, and international community of makers and educators who attend every year - go to

Mouse Squad is a program of Mouse. 55 Broad Street, 16th Floor, NY, NY 10004 646-574-6446,