Hacktivities at the Mozilla Festival 2012

Last weekend (9-11 November 2012) saw the second Mozilla Festival. Over a thousand people came through the doors of Ravensbourne College, packing 9 floors and hacking to their hearts content. Digital journalism super stars Aron Pilhofer, Brian Boyer, Scott Klein, Miranda Mulligan and the Guardian Interactive Team were in attendance.

I optimistically decided to run two learning labs. Both teaching non-coders to hack and hackers some media literacy hacktivities and interactive video with Popcorn.js. So there is something for everyone! These will be put into a hacktivity kit but until I find a home for making my workshops into online lessons I’ll be putting all the links right here.

First a word of note, if you’re attending my workshops or learning labs bring a laptop and not a tablet. I’m very hands-on!

HTML for Journalists

Using Mozilla’s new webmaker tool, Thimble, you can code and see what the browser sees. In this hacktivity you markup and style a news article, learning the bascis of HTML and CSS. For those of you already web savvy there is a media literacy game suggested. Try it out!

Location-based Storytelling Using Popcorn Maker and Popcorn.js

This was really fun to make and teach. Popcorn is the project that is going to get me to further hone my JavaScript skills. It is the most applicable webmaker project to journalism. Here non-coders use Popcorn Maker to replicated a BBC Interactive and those who code for the web can recreate it easily using Popcorn.js. Choose a track and try it for yourself. For non-coders I suggest you do the HTML course first, go through the web fundamentals and JavaScript fundamentals track on CodeCademy and then have a crack at the Popcorn.js assignment!


Besides running the above workshops, which was great fun and so many journalists attended, all the OpenNews 2012 fellows also gave a one minute presentation on something they got up to this year. Watch it here (25 minutes in). The 2013 fellows were also announced. It was great to meet almost all of them and I look forward to following their amazing journey next year. It’s mind-blowing to think that such talented and diverse people are offering their skills to newsrooms around the globe. Counter to what most people would think, I think now is an incredible time to be in journalism. People are telling their own stories, instantly and to the world. The fabric with which media people now work with is truly intricate and interwoven through the public sphere. Now we should be experimenting with new types of stories that can be told.

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