#mozparty Barcelona – a need for more webmaker girls

by Alina Mierlus

This is a late ( :| ) blog post with some things we did/achieved during the mozparty event we hosted 3 days after the Global weekend of code.

The party went well (2 – 3 hours is just the perfect timing for an evening of social code and learning) and showed up around 25 – 27 participants.

The audience was very diverse (people with ideas but no web skills, more advanced web developers, instructors, Linux geeks who wanted to learn web dev.). And when you have such a mixed audience is really hard to figure out the format, especially when you want to integrate a stonger maker component.

At this #mozparty we were 6 facilitators (thanks Arantxa, Marta, Javier, Carlos, César) and that was a fantastic experience for me personally.

The take aways from this event were:

  • having more facilitators is fantastic. You learn a lot from their experience and get to know tools and methods other use to teach web literacies (during the session every facilitator used his/her favorite tool – not only the existing Mozilla ones);
  • It never works as planned, but the results are more than expected! That was what I experienced at this mozparty. The event was supposed to start with a speedgeeking session, then continue with a kind of science fair format (where people will pick a project/table and learn more about, tinker). But after participants arrived, it turned out to be an open hacking session  with verious groups (some making their first ever webpage, some sharing tips and tricks about webdesign, html5 and latest webtechnologies, some hacking videos with popcorn). Overall, everything went well and participants seemed to enjoy it.
  •  I love the concept of a generative event! You feel very good when see that one of the participants leave the event and then organizes his own 4 days mozparty for the people and youth in his neighborhood (thanks Quim!).
  • Popcorn is gaining a lot of interest, not only from people who use it for their projects, but also from more advanced tool developers.

What I could do better next time:

  • Indeed, one of the things I should get better at next time is to find a way to communicate more with other co-facilitators. Although it is great to have people to help with  sessions, it’s still tricky to align methods. Especially when the event is aimed to have at its core some making/tinkering ethos (here most people got used to presentations/listening when attending events). Anyway, given that in Barcelona communtity events are growing (Design Jams, Hackjams etc.), I was thinking that planting the seeds for a community of local organizers/facilitators may be the thing we need in the near future (some specific facilitators trainings and/or “local melts”)
  • Better organize the real-time communication, share remixes and hacks (I’ve tried a couple of time to use Tumblr, Etherpad for real-time communication but there are still difficulties in getting participants to upload content). Also, there are situations when people don’t want to share/publish (that happened with the group who did their first webpage). That may be a question of confidence on the tool (something I’ll try to explore in an upcoming post).
  • Having move women/girls participants. At this mozparty we were 3 womenas  facilitators but only one woman as participant :| . I know this is a very sensitive topic here where everyone lives with the idea of equality between genders and that all is perfect. But at the latest events I facilitated, I continued to observe a low percentatge of girls participating.

I’m thinking to organize a girls-only webmaker event next time (althought the feedback I received was not so positive). I’m usually not a proponent of separate groups (gender or other things) and I am a slighly moderated feminist. But I think that, sometimes a special group/event/activity focused only on young girls as participants may help gain a certain level of confidence and open the way to a broader participation in open technology movement.

I let this here and maybe open a more local conversation about this, see if the low percentatge of local participation of women in technology (programming, design, system administration and tech. communities overally) is only my personal perception or is shared by others as well.

Webmaking, as process and concept could be an amazing opportunity for young girls to discover their passions. Working now in the technology field doesn’t mean only sitting down in front of a *.nix terminal or code editor. Webmaking means using open web technology to make your work creative and meaningfull. It lets you explore the boundary between web technology and jornalism, education, science and health, filmmaking etc.