Monday, January 13, 2014

Engaging in 2014

January 1st, 2014: I jumped out of a plane over Las Vegas, determined to start this year with excitement (wind-induced face lift included). Week 3 of this year already promises plenty of adventure, as I head off to Vancouver for the first time with a spring in my step knowing where I am in the complicated (yet simple) network that is Mozilla.  I'm in for a week of challenge and fun, including zip-lining down Grouse Mountain and hours of brainstorming and engaging with my team.

Where do I fit in?
In my current role in the UK, being on the Engagement Team means continuing to work closely with our Make Things Do Stuff partners and participants to ensure good communication about what everyone is doing. Using the Make Things Do Stuff website as a platform, our Youth Editorial group is spreading the word about their digital experiences, things that our happening around the UK, and fun ways young people can get involved online from home. Supporting these amazing, creative young people is a major goal of mine. Through April of this year, I'll help spread the word about digital making by running Webmaker workshops and supporting our partners at various events, and by speaking or judging contests at conferences/events like Bett (22-25 Jan), Manchester Digital (11-14 Feb), EPIK: Code the World Around You (17-19 Feb), iThink Conference (27 Feb), DML (6-8 Mar), and Oppi Helsinki (11-14 Apr).

Aside from the larger, public events, I'll be inviting groups like The Children's Museum to use our fantastic Moz Space in London to run their own events. By supporting these friends we not only expand our network of partners, but also keep our finger on the pulse of all things digital in the youth sector in town. And, they let us play with their cool toys! I'm also starting to collaborate more with the awesome MoCo devs in London, getting them more involved with activities with young people, and perhaps being asked to work on some of their cool international FFOS projects.

Beyond April, when I leave the UK and transfer to the US (visa issues…ugh) I plan on building up and using my networks in Latin America and Asia. Currently, I'm helping out with MozEdu, an initiative of the Mozilla Hispano community that goes into schools in the region to promote principles we share in our Web Literacy Map. With Mozilla Japan, I've been working to expand their reach in the country via the MozBus program they sprung into action in the fall. They're now off on the second tour, down to southern Japan. The Mozilla Factory (similar to HIVE) has been generating much more support for promoting digital making among young people, but has yet to turn the focus towards fundraising. Come May, perhaps a shift in the winds could help with that.

And personally, I will be making a much more concerted effort to share the great things that are happening within these different contexts with everyone else, both in the hope to get the word out and to get advice from others doing similar things.

What can we do better this year?

It's been a year full of explosive growth, so "things we can do better" can also be "things/people/resources we need to rally." The ReMo community is an incredible asset with expansive networks that are eager to be a part of the open web we all champion. It would be good to reach out in a much more systematic (i.e. organized) way to this amazing group of talented people, listen to their views on needs/local realities, and work closely with them to build tools and connections. There have already been a few issues around this, including the formation of legal entities for fundraising and whether or not they can use the Mozilla name, so a clarity on what we're asking of them and what they can do would be more than beneficial.

Within our various teams, the recent shuffle promises more streamlined communication. A more focused conversation that is action-oriented rather than an exercise in reflection/navel-gazing could be helpful. Yes, reflection is important; but because people are productive at different times, and because we're spread out across multiple timezones, requiring everyone to "silent ether-pad" at the same time doesn't always translate to higher productivity or effective communication. Perhaps "flipping" our communications -- i.e. independent thinking/sharing/writing before our calls -- could be an interesting approach to try.

What should we make sure not to lose?

Given what I wrote above, I think as a team we are FANTASTIC at communicating! We're creative with our sharing, and we learn from each other (case in point: FuzzyFox's recent notes from the Mentor call).

Our external face is very unified, and we're all adept at weaving together all of our tools and initiatives. We're good at thinking about "the team" and pushing forward Mozilla's main message about putting the web in everyone's hands. We shouldn't forget that we're awesome at working with people.

What do I most want to get out of the work week?

This week for me is about learning and sharing. I want to learn more about the comms side of things, about how I can bring my networks into the fold, and how I can better share the stories about all the fantastic things happening around me with all of you.

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