Hacking Tech Evangelism in Bangalore: Q & A With Kaustav Das Modak

Havi Hoffman

Back in May, we completed the pilot run of a new program. Mozilla Tech Speakers is designed to empower and support technical evangelists around the world who are serving their communities as speakers and trainers, presenting Mozilla and open web technologies at conferences, workshops, and events. We’ve already posted about the first phase of the program and shared examples of talks and activities from our first cohort of participants.

Not long after that post went up, I learned that Mozilla Rep and Mozillian Tech Speaker Kaustav Das Modak was organizing a Tech Evangelism Workshop with a group of volunteers from Mozilla India’s Bangalore community. Their goal: Work together over a weekend to build confidence and communication skills for technical evangelism. Have each participant finish the weekend with a new presentation and accompanying blog post or article ready to go. The reported results were impressive.

Photo by Kaustav Das Modak

Photo by Kaustav Das Modak

I invited Kaustav to share his activity and its outcome with more Mozillians, who might want to replicate a version of this event in their own communities. The basics apply for all presenters, so you don’t have to be a technologist to find value. Here’s what I learned from Kaustav (in Q & A format):

1) Kaustav, tell us a little about who you are and the work you do as a Mozilla contributor and technical evangelist.

I’m currently working on my start-up, Applait, where we are building a unified layer for real-time communications over the internet.

I’ve been publicly involved with Mozilla a little over 2 years now. Meeting people all over the world and working on open technologies has been my motivation to volunteer with Mozilla.

I’ve always enjoyed sharing what I know with everyone else, since my childhood. My inspiration to pursue technical evangelism as a profession, and then as a passion, came from attending a workshop on technical evangelism conducted by Christian Heilmann, Robert Nyman and Ali Spivak in Bangalore in 2013.

Photo by Kaustav Das Modak.

Photo by Kaustav Das Modak.

I was involved with the Mobilizers team during the Firefox OS launch, and I try to coordinate community evangelism for Mozilla in India, whenever I can.

2) What inspired you to create this event?

I’ve been planning over a year to conduct workshops to help fellow Mozillians get more confident in presenting themselves. I have helped folks individually all along. But, the Tech Speakers pilot programme finally made me get over the lethargy and actually the start the event. I plan to make this into a series, generating a ton of useful content in the process.

3) Can you share your thinking about the agenda and how you designed it?

The core goal of the Tech Evangelism Workshop is to help participants get better at what they are already good at. Participants are asked to choose a topic in which they think they have sufficient knowledge. Then, through the rest of the workshop, they practice building content around that topic – they give 2 presentations, write a talk abstract and an article.

By the end of the workshop, they realize that they already had the capability within them. The true success of this workshop is to make participants realize that all they needed was to do quality research, better practice and letting go of the shyness within.

4) What advice would you offer for other Mozillians who would like to organize a training/workshop like this to prepare presentations and practice public speaking? Do you have specific advice for technical presenters?

One thing that has always helped is to do your homework. _Nothing_ beats a healthy research. Research your audience and respect cultural differences.

5) What are you planning next? What advice do you have for other Mozillians who want to organize a workshop focused on technical evangelism skills?

I’m already planning for a second run of this workshop. I’m also eager to help any Mozillian who needs help individually. It’s okay to ping me anytime on IRC, my nick is kaustavdm.

MDN Contributor of the Month for June 2015: Sebastian Zartner

Janet Swisher

Congratulations to Sebastian Zartner, who is the MDN Contributor of the Month for June 2015. Sebastian has contributed a lot to both the content and structure of the CSS reference, including creating a JSON API for CSS pages, and a macro for CSS syntax.

Sebastian Zartner at Whistler, BC

Photo: Sebastian Zartner

Here is an interview with Sebastian, conducted by email:

When and how did you get started contributing to MDN?
My first contributions to MDN were back in 2007, so already some months ago. :-) My first contributions were related to German translations to articles, but I also quickly started working on English ones. Some of those contributions were information updates, some of them spelling corrections and I also already started writing a few new articles back then.

How does what you do on MDN affect other parts of your life, and vice versa?
Writing on MDN requires some deeper understanding of web technologies on the one hand, and on the other the writer needs to be able to explain those technologies to other people. So by writing those articles, it helps me to learn about and understand the technologies myself and at the same time it allows me to improve my teaching skills. Having said that, what I’m currently mainly working on and what I was awarded for is more background and cleaning up work.

What advice do you have for new contributors on MDN?
New contributors to MDN should start by doing small changes to or translating existing articles. If they need help, there is already a lot of information on MDN explaining what to do. And if they prefer to ask someone, there’s always a helping hand [via email and IRC].

Participation at Whistler

Lucy Harris

From June 23rd to 27th, the Participation Team spent an exhilarating and exhausting work week in Whistler sharing and learning about Participation with Mozillians from all over the world.

During this week we exceeded even our own expectations for  team success. We raised the profile of our team’s diverse expertise as an asset to the goals of every team across Mozilla.  We started a number of conversations about participation across the organization, and ultimately strengthened our own strategy as a team.

Here’s an overview of what we accomplished, as well as what and where we’ll be headed next.

What We Did

Since the Participation Team is new to Mozilla this was our first opportunity to present our goals, ideas, and objectives to the organization and to show other functional areas how we could help them tackle their problems or capture opportunities related to participation. We ended up scheduling sessions with 25 teams across just two days.

We included volunteers, who acted as co-facilitators for the sessions, and some external experts who helped us to shape what Participation means for Mozilla, and provide value to the functional teams we consulted with.Throughout the week the Reps Council played a key role, acting as an extension of the Participation Team in discussions around the definition of participation and how we better integrate contributors into projects in the future.

Other accomplishments from the week included:

  1. We built our team team’s trust and relationships (staff and volunteers) and improved our capacity for working together in an integrated and flexible way.
  2. We built and learned a new human centered design framework and applied it with groups across the organization. This is an asset that we can bring to communities and teams across the organization, and use ourselves moving forward.
  3. We moved forward our participation strategy and structures by articulating and co-creating a forward thinking vision and strategy for 18-months from now, which we will share in the near future. We surfaced important issues and conversations.
  4. We rocked a main-stage presentations, showcasing three initiatives that reinforced participation as a strategic advantage to Mozilla: Chota Fennec in India, Marketpulse and Advocacy which you’ll be able to watch on AirMozilla in a few weeks.

Overall, we grew excitement for a fresh approach to participation across Mozilla. There is a buzz about participation now!

Where We Want To Go


The outcome of the Workweek is that we still need to walk a long path. There’s still many challenges and things to do, and we expect to see a lot of progress and development in this year, and the following. Our proposals to move things forward are:

  1. We will build and continue to develop the  shared vision of success for participation that we started working on during Whistler.
  2. Based on this vision we will identify key priorities for the team and select projects to contribute to to help drive us towards our goals.
  3. We will continue to work with ongoing projects and develop new projects around the organization goals.
  4. We will work closely with volunteer leaders to create a highly effective set of regional/local communities
  5. We will help all interested staff teams create a plan around engaging, sustaining and recruiting volunteers.
  6. We will work to develop a culture of excitement and energy around the strategic impact only possible by empowering volunteer contributors.
  7. We will embed volunteer leadership opportunities and training in all that we do.

You can follow along with the projects we’ll be working on in the coming months on GitHub here and we’ll also be posting regularly on this blog and from our new Twitter account @MozParticipate.

You can also see more pictures from Whistler on Flickr here.

The Participation Team would also like to say a big thank you to all the volunteers, Reps, staff, and experts who joined us this week. We couldn’t have accomplished any of this without you!

MDN Fellows Successfully Oriented

Diane Tate

The first-ever cohort of MDN Fellows convened at the Mozilla Vancouver space the weekend of June 20. This MDN Fellowship Pilot is an experiment for Mozilla to engage advanced web developers in strategic projects at Mozilla to advance our teaching and learning objectives.

Day 1: Learning About Learning

One of the first things we did was to collectively identify shared goals for the weekend:

  • Welcome our Fellows into the Mozilla fold.
  • Create ties between our Fellows and their project mentors.
  • Build familiarity with key learning and curriculum design principles.
  • Set up our Fellows for success in creating Content Kits, a new framework designed by both MDN and the Mozilla Foundation to facilitate wide teaching of web content.
  • Understand how the Fellows’ work ties into the broader mission and efforts at Mozilla.

And Day 1 was an exercise in integrity: because one of the least effective ways people learn is by lecture – and since we wanted our fellows to learn about learning – we all jumped in and engaged with learning content. Bill Mills, Community Manager for Mozilla’s Science Lab, conveyed several principles. A few nuggets that our teams have already started to apply to their projects:

  • Structure curriculum into as small, manageable pieces as possible. This allows instructors and students to customize and adapt the content to their specific needs and learning pace. This also helps avoid the common pitfall of underestimating how much time is required to teach material generally.
  • Employ techniques to identify gaps in learning. For example, it’s possible to design multiple choice answers to flag specific learning errors e.g. if the question is “What is 23 + 28?” and a student selects one of the incorrect answers of “41” then you can assume the student did not properly ‘carry’ in their math.
  • Provide multiple approaches to explain the same issue to avoid the common pitfall of simply repeating the information more slowly, or more loudly ;).

Day 2: Getting to Brass Tacks

Day 2 had our Fellows applying their new knowledge to their own projects. They developed a plan of attack for their respective work for the remainder of the Fellowship. Some highlights:

The Curriculum team was well-served by referencing the Dunning-Kruger effect in designing its pre-requisites list. Specifically, they decided to parse this out using a “get information as you need it” approach for the pre-reqs rather than present their potential instructors with one long daunting list.

Both the Service Workers team and the WebGL team are embracing the above-mentioned concept of modularizing their content to make it more manageable. Specifically, Service Workers will create different approaches for different use cases to accommodate the evolving nature of its nascent technology; and WebGL will parse out different components so instructors and students can create reusable hackable code samples.

The Test The Web Forward team is employing “reverse instructional design” so its instructors can help others understand how problems are solved a step-by-step basis that students can dissect rather than simply see the final ‘answers.’ If you’ve heard of “reverse engineering” then “reverse instructional design” should make sense.

The Web App Performance Teamtaking into consideration the complexity of performance and the difference of optimizing the network vs the front-end, will compartmentalize the courses. To keep the introductory course short & crisp, and to further help trainers & students to master performance, each module will have an advanced follow-up. Examples of bad and good performance are linked throughout the course along with practical code to best showcase these performance tactics.

How MDN Fellows Support the Mozilla Mission

Last year MDN began working with our colleagues at the Mozilla Foundation to see how we might partner to advance our common goals of growing web literacy. The work MDN is doing to expand beyond documentation and into teaching and learning dovetails nicely with the Foundation’s efforts to harmonize Mozilla’s learning and fellowship programs. This is a work in progress and we expect our MDN Fellows to play a key role in informing this.

MDN at Whistler

Janet Swisher

The MDN community was well-represented at the Mozilla “Coincidental Work Week” in Whistler, British Columbia, during the last week in June. All of the content staff, a couple of the development staff, and quite a few volunteers were there. Meetings were met, code was hacked, docs were sprinted, and fun was funned.

Cross-team conversations

One of the big motivations for the “Coincidental Work Week” is the opportunity for cross-pollination among teams, so that teams can have a high-bandwidth conversations about their work with others. MDN touches many other functional groups within Mozilla, so we had a great many of these conversations. Some MDN staff were also part of “durable” (i.e., cross-functional) teams within the Engagement department, meeting with product teams about their marketing needs. Among others, MDN folks met with:

  • Add-ons, about future plans for add-ons.
  • Mozilla Foundation, about MDN’s role in broader learning initiatives, and about marketing themes for the last half of the year.
  • Firefox OS, about their plans in the next six months, and about increasing participation in Firefox OS.
  • Developer Relations and Platform Engineering, about improving coordination and information sharing.
  • Firefox Developer Tools, about integrating more MDN content into the tools, and making the dev-tools codebase more accessible to contributors.
  • Participation, to brainstorm ways to increase retention of MDN contributors.

Internal conversations

The MDN community members at Whistler spent some time as a group reflecting on the first half of the year, and planning and prioritizing for the second half of the year. Sub-groups met to discuss specific projects, such as the compatibility data service, or HTML API docs.

Hacking and sprinting

Lest the “Work Week” be all meetings, we also scheduled time for heads-down productivity. MDN was part of a web development Hack Day on Wednesday, and we held doc sprints for most of the day on Thursday and Friday. These events resulted in some tangible outputs, as well as some learning that will likely pay off in the future.

  • Heather wrote glossary entries and did editorial reviews.
  • Sebastian finished a new template for CSS syntax.
  • Sheppy worked on an article and code sample about Web RTC.
  • Justin finished a prototype feature for helpfulness ratings for MDN articles.
  • Saurabh prototyped an automation for badge nominations, and improved CSS reference pages’ structure and syntax examples.
  • Klez got familiar with the compatibility service codebase and development workflow; he also wrote glossary entries and other learning content.
  • Mark learned about Kuma by failing to get it running on Windows.
  • Will finished a patch to apply syntax highlighting to the CSS content from MDN in Dev Tools.

And fun!

Of course, the highlight of any Mozilla event is the chance to eat, drink, and socialize with other Mozillians. Planned dinners and parties, extracurricular excursions, and spontaneous celebrations rounded out the week. Many in the MDN group stayed at a hotel that happened to be a 20-minute walk from most of the other venues, so those of us with fitness trackers blew out our step-count goals all week. A few high points:

  • Chris celebrated his birthday at the closing party on Friday, at the top of Whistler mountain.
  • Mark saw a bear, from the gondola on the way up to the mountain-top party.
  • Saurabh saw snow for the first time. In June, no less.

Firefox 39 new contributors

Josh Matthews


With the release of Firefox 39, we are pleased to welcome the 64 developers who contributed their first code change to Firefox in this release, 55 of whom were brand new volunteers! Please join us in thanking each of these diligent and enthusiastic individuals, and take a look at their contributions:

  • agrigas: 1135270
  • bmax1337: 967319
  • leo: 1134993
  • schtroumps31: 1130045
  • zmiller12: 1138873
  • George Duan: 1135293
  • Abhinav Koppula: 732688, 951695, 1127337
  • Alex Verstak: 1113431, 1144816
  • Alexandre Ratchov: 1144087
  • Andrew Overholt: 1127552
  • Anish: 1135091, 1135383
  • Anush: 418517, 1113761
  • Bhargav Chippada: 1112605, 1130372
  • Boris Kudryavtsev: 1135364, 1144613
  • Cesar Guirao: 1139132
  • Chirag Bhatia: 1133211
  • Danilo Cesar Lemes de Paula: 1146020
  • Daosheng Mu: 1133391
  • Deepak: 1039540
  • Felix Janda: 1130164, 1130175
  • Gareth Aye: 1145310
  • Geoffroy Planquart: 942475, 1042859
  • Gerald Squelart: 1121774, 1135541, 1137583
  • Greg Arndt: 1142779
  • Henry Addo: 1084663
  • Jason Gersztyn: 1132673
  • Jeff Griffiths: 1138545
  • Jeff Lu: 1098415, 1106779, 1140044
  • Johan K. Jensen: 1096294
  • Johannes Vogel: 1139594
  • John Giannakos: 1134568
  • John Kang: 1144782, 1146252
  • Jorg K: 756984
  • Kyle Thomas: 1137004
  • Léon McGregor: 1115925, 1130741, 1136708
  • Manraj Singh [:manrajsingh|Away till 21st June]: 1120408
  • Mantaroh Yoshinaga: 910634, 1106905, 1130614
  • Markus Jaritz: 1139174
  • Massimo Gervasini: 1137756, 1144695
  • Matt Hammerly: 1124271
  • Matt Spraggs: 1036454
  • Michael Weisz : 736572, 782623, 935434
  • Mitchell Field: 987902
  • Mohamed Waleed: 1106938
  • NiLuJe: 1143411
  • Perry Wagle: 1122941
  • Ponç Bover: 1126978
  • Quentin Pradet: 1092544
  • Ravi Shankar: 1109608
  • Rishi Baldawa: 1143196
  • Stéphane SCHMIDELY: 935259, 1144619
  • Sushrut Girdhari (sg345): 1137248
  • Thomas Baquet: 1132078
  • Titi_Alone : 1133063
  • Tyler St. Onge: 1134927
  • Vaibhav Bhosale: 1135009
  • Vidit23: 1121317
  • Wickie Lee: 1136253
  • Zimon Dai: 983469, 1135435
  • atlanto: 1137615
  • farhaan: 1073234
  • pinjiz: 1124943, 1142260, 1142268
  • qasim: 1123431
  • ronak khandelwal: 1122767
  • uelis: 1047529
  • Mozilla Tech Speakers: A pilot for technical evangelism

    Havi Hoffman

    The six-week pilot version of the Mozilla Tech Speakers program wrapped up at the end of May. We learned a lot, made new friends on several continents, and collected valuable practical feedback on how to empower and support volunteer Mozillians who are already serving their regional communities as technical evangelists and educators. We’ve also gathered some good ideas for how to scale a speaker program that’s relevant and accessible to technical Mozillians in communities all over the world. Now we’re seeking your input and ideas as well.

    During the second half of 2015, we’ll keep working with the individuals in our pilot group (our pilot pilots) to create technical workshops and presentations that increase developer awareness and adoption of Firefox, Mozilla, and the Open Web platform. We’ll keep in touch as they submit talk proposals and develop Content Kits during the second half of the year, work with them to identify relevant conferences and events, fund speaker travel as appropriate, make sure speakers have access to the latest information (and the latest swag to distribute), and offer them support and coaching to deliver and represent!

    Why we did it

    Our aim is to create a strong community-driven technical speaker development program in close collaboration with Mozilla Reps and the teams at Mozilla who focus on community education and participation. From the beginning we benefited from the wisdom of Rosana Ardila, Emma Irwin, Soumya Deb, and other Mozillian friends. We decided to stand up a “minimum viable” program with trusted, invited participants—Mozillians who are active technical speakers and are already contributing to Mozilla by writing about and presenting Mozilla technology at events around the world. We were inspired by the ongoing work of the Participation Team and Speaker Evangelism program that came before us, thanks to the efforts of @codepo8, Shezmeen Prasad, and many others.

    We want this program to scale and stay sustainable, as individuals come and go, and product and platform priorities evolve. We will incorporate the feedback and learnings from the current pilot into all future iterations of the Mozilla Tech Speaker program.

    What we did

    Participants met together weekly on a video call to practice presentation skills and impromptu storytelling, contributed to the MDN Content Kit project for sharing presentation assets, and tried out some new tools for building informative and inspiring tech talks.

    Each participant received one session of personalized one-to-one speaker coaching, using “techniques from applied improvisation and acting methods” delivered by People Rocket’s team of coaching professionals. For many participants, this was a peak experience, a chance to step out of their comfort zone, stretch their presentation skills, build their confidence, and practice new techniques.

    In our weekly meetings, we worked with the StoryCraft technique, and hacked it a little to make it more geek- and tech speaker-friendly. We also worked with ThoughtBox, a presentation building tool to “organize your thoughts while developing your presentation materials, in order to maximize the effectiveness of the content.” Dietrich took ThoughtBox from printable PDF to printable web-based form, but we came to the conclusion it would be infinitely more usable if it were redesigned as an interactive web app. (Interested in building this? Talk to us on IRC. You’ll find me in #techspeakers or #devrel, with new channels for questions and communication coming soon.)

    We have the idea that an intuitive portable tool like ThoughtBox could be useful for any group of Mozillians anywhere in the world who want to work together on practicing speaking and presentation skills, especially on topics of interest to developers. We’d love to see regional communities taking the idea of speaker training and designing the kind of programs and tools that work locally. Let’s talk more about this.

    What we learned

    The pilot was ambitious, and combined several components—speaker training, content development, creating a presentation, proposing a talk—into an aggressive six-week ‘curriculum.’ The team, which included participants in eight timezones, spanning twelve+ hours, met once a week on a video call. We kicked off the program with an introduction by People Rocket and met regularly for the next six weeks.

    Between scheduled meetings, participants hung out in Telegram, a secure cross-platform messaging app, sharing knowledge, swapping stickers (the virtual kind) and becoming friends. Our original ambitious plan might have been feasible if our pilots were not also university students, working developers, and involved in multiple projects and activities. But six weeks turned out to be not quite long enough to get it all done, so we focused on speaking skills—and, as it turned out, on building a global posse of talented tech speakers.

    What’s next

    We’re still figuring this out. We collected feedback from all participants and discovered that there’s a great appetite to keep this going. We are still fine-tuning some of the ideas around Content Kits, and the first kits are becoming available for use and re-use. We continue to support Tech Speakers to present at conferences organize workshops and trainings in their communities. And create their own Mozilla Tech Speakers groups with local flavor and focus.

    Stay tuned: we’ll be opening a Discourse category shortly, to expand the conversation and share new ideas.

    And now for some thank yous…

    I’d like to quickly introduce you to the Mozilla Tech Speakers pilot pilots. You’ll be hearing from them directly in the days, weeks, months ahead, but for today, huge thanks and hugs all around, for the breadth and depth of their contributions, their passion, and the friendships we’ve formed.

    Adrian Crespo, Firefox Marketplace reviewer, Mozilla Rep, student, and technical presenter from Madrid, Spain, creator of the l10n.js Content Kit, for learning and teaching localization through the native JavaScript method.

    Ahmed Nefzaoui, @AhmedNefzaoui, recent graduate and active Mozillian, Firefox OS contributor, Arabic Mozilla localizer, RTL (right-to-left) wizard, and web developer from Tozeur, Tunisia.

    Andre Garzia, @soapdog, Mozilla Rep from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, web developer, app developer and app reviewer, who will be speaking about Web Components at Expotec at the end of this month. Also, ask him about the Webmaker team LAN Houses program just getting started now in Rio.

    Andrzej Mazur, @end3r, HTML5 game developer, active Hacks blog and MDN contributor, creator of a content kit on HTML5 Game Development for Beginners, active Firefox app developer, Captain Rogers creator, and frequent tech speaker, from Warsaw, Poland.

    István “Flaki” Szmozsánszky, @slsoftworks, Mozillian and Mozilla Rep, web and mobile developer from Budapest, Hungary. Passionate about Rust, Firefox OS, the web of things. If you ask him anything “mildly related to Firefox OS, be prepared with canned food and sleeping bags, because the answer might sometimes get a bit out of hand.”

    Kaustav Das Modak, @kaustavdm, Mozilla Rep from Bengalaru, India; web and app developer; open source evangelist; co-founder of Applait. Ask him about Grouphone. Or, catch his upcoming talk at the JSChannel conference in Bangalore in July.

    Michaela R. Brown, @michaelarbrown, self-described “feisty little scrapper,” Internet freedom fighter, and Mozillian from Michigan. Michaela will share skills in San Francisco next week at the Library Freedom Project: Digital Rights in Libraries event.

    Rabimba Karanjai, @rabimba, a “full-time graduate researcher, part-time hacker and FOSS enthusiast,” and 24/7 Mozillian. Before the month is out, Rabimba will speak about Firefox OS at OpenSourceBridge in Portland and at the Hong Kong Open Source conference.

    Gracias. شكرا. धन्यवाद. Köszönöm. Obrigada. Dziękuję. Thank you. #FoxYeah.

    Bringing Participation to Whistler

    Lucy Harris


    Mozilla at Whistler 2010

    Mozilla at Whistler 2010

    The Participation Team is heading to Whistler this week where we’ll be running an innovative series of discussions, presentations, and workshops all centered around creating an approach to participation that is massive and diverse, local and global, strategic and impactful.

    Whether you will be joining us in person or following along online. Here’s an overview of what we’ll be up to this week and how you can get involved:

    Skills Building: Human Centered Design
    Tuesday July 23rd 3:30pm-5pm

    The Participation Team will be participation in an open session about design thinking and problem solving both generally and as they relate to specific projects. Please arrive promptly at 3:30pm if you’d like to participate!

    Join in person: 3:30pm in the Participation Room in the Delta Whistler Village Suites hotel.
    Join remotely: Follow us on discourse and Twitter using the hashtag #MozParticipation to find out what we’re learning during this session.

    TED Style Talks: Exploring Radical Participation at Whistler
    Wednesday June 24th at 4:30pm

    A series of invited experts on participation will challenge us in short TED-style talks, bringing thought-provoking ideas on Radical Participation. Then join over one hundred Mozillians who care about participation as we come up with some rough designs for what radical participation could look like at Mozilla in the years ahead. Confirmed speakers include:

    • Natalie Foster – Co-founder and Executive Director of Peers, the world’s largest independent sharing economy community, and former digital director for President Obama’s Organizing for America (OFA) and the Democratic National Committee.
    • Jono Bacon – Senior Director of Community at XPrize where he leads community development and growth XPRIZE Foundation. He is the author of The Art of Community and the former Ubuntu Community Manager.
    • Jeremy Bird – is a founding Partner at 270 Strategies and a longtime strategist. He also was the National Field Director for the 2012 re-election camapgin of President Barack Obama where he was  dubbed the campaign’s  “Field General” by Rolling Stone Magazine.
    • See the full list of speakers  here

    Join in person: Wednesday June 24th at 4:30pm in Sea to Sky Ballroom C at the Whistler Conference Center
    Join remotely: Watch live on AirMozilla at 11:30pm UTC on June 24th, join the discussion on discourse and read the  blog afterwards for a synthesis of the most poignant ideas.

    Personalized Design: 26 Participation Lab Sessions
    Wednesday June 24th – Thursday June 25 9:30am – 9:00pm

    We’re hosting customized sessions throughout the work week to help teams solve problems and capture opportunities related to contributor or volunteer engagement, user/supporter/contributor participation, and many other topics related to participation. With over 26 projects registered we’ll be meeting with teams throughout the week.

    View the full schedule and the description of each project below.

    Join us in person: Registration is now closed for customized Lab sessions, however the Participation Room (Raven A + B at Delta Whistler Village Suites hotel) will be open to all throughout the week.
    Join remotely: What do you think of the sessions? Send us your thoughts and questions on discourse.

    Participation Moving Forward – Strategy Session
    Friday July 26th 8:30am-10am

    On the last day of Whistler the Participation Team will be gathering with volunteers, staff, and experts to think about what participation might look like at Mozilla 10, 15, 20 years in the future.

    Join in person: Participation Room (Raven A + B) at Delta Whistler Village Suites. Please arrive promptly at 8:30am if you’d like to participate.
    Join remotely: Share your thoughts/visions for the future of participation at Mozilla on discourse here.

    Read more about the Lab and what we’ve been up to in Emma Irwin’s post “Participation Lab, What We’re Learning”.


    Participation Lab, What We’re Learning

    Emma Irwin

    Photo from Securing Web @ZAP Day 1


    In recent months the Participation Lab has been tracking multiple experiments across the project that demonstrate fresh approaches to participation.  To really understand and bring strategic value to Mozilla, our focus in these experiments has been to encourage human centered design and a deliberate setting of ‘milestones for learning ‘  and measuring success.

    Learning milestones are places in a project’s execution where we stop and evaluate the initial hypothesis about participation: do these goals still make sense? Are we still on track to learn about participation?  What are we already learning? Where can we help?

    What we’re finding is that ‘learning check-ins’ are a critical opportunity to recalibrate, and advance the depth and success of project and contributor success.  Participation shifts, and evolves with the project, it only makes sense to pay attention to those subtle changes. As a result of these conversations, and  analysis we’re starting to see a shift towards a new innovative approaches.

    The lab has also observed a number of trends in terms of what people struggle with most in establishing and measuring their participation experiments, and themes in how we’re trying to solve for better participation.  All of this is leading to more insightful prototyping and execution of participation goals, and in the spirit of the virtuous circle : amplifying impact on contributor success and sense of value, and project goals.

    Education & Training, Evangelism and Representation, and Market Research were identified as our top three themes in the nearly fifty projects we’re following. Learn more about these themes and how they’re being implemented below.

    Education & Training

    Community Education was at the heart of many initiatives we’re following. Many working hypothesis include education and training as a connective tissue for community building and  development of future leaders.  Almost all had a working theory, that through education and training we can build content and generate meaningful outcomes to project as part of learning outcomes.


    By building and training a community of core contributors in Market Research, Marketpulse aims to collect data about phone sales in target markets. This project encourages contribution through a series of participation steps, each with complementary training. Marketpulse also recently completed a four-week online course “Interviewing Users for Mozilla” which taught contributors this qualitative research skill in user research.  As a result of this project, Mozilla has gained user research on the “Large Screen Experience”.

    By “Interviewing Users for Mozilla” course participant: Sukanta Pal

    MDN Fellowship

    The Developer Fellowship program provides a model for Mozilla and advanced developers to work together more extensively, allowing Mozilla to gain outside expertise and influence to help build our curriculum, shape our products and evangelize our programs.

    Mozilla Security Project – Securing Web @ZAP

    Is a volunteer-lend series of workshops for students and security enthusiasts. During  the workshop, participants are trained in ways to detect the threats  by performing security attacks using the ZAP security tool.  At it’s core this project is about teaching people about security by contributing to Zap.  Each week focuses on a different method of contribution: source code, creating extensions and addons, documentation and localization. Hypothesis is that by teaching participation as part of curriculum we can gain a greater base of contributors as a result. Very cool!

    Sumath’s Hypothesis is that by embedding contribution opportunities in education & training we can improve the number of, and quality of contributions, and help spread Mozilla’s mission to more people.

    Evangelism and Representation

    Mozilla’s community reaches around the globe, with diversity so great it’s an exciting to imagine the potential of volunteers empowered to share, speak and advocate for Mozilla’s mission.  It makes a lot of sense to work on mechanisms for this type participation. Common hypothesis are that word of mouth marketing is an extremely valuable tool for promotion and that empowering community members with more skills and avenues to share their passion for Mozilla will help raise awareness of Mozilla and Firefox.

    Firefox Friends

    Firefox Friends a program that take advantage of the existing passion of the Mozilla community to make it easier for people to share their love of Mozilla and Firefox within their social networks. Firefox Friends is exploring the hypothesis that providing the community with a tool for collecting and sharing Firefox oriented content will increase awareness and growth of Firefox.  To make it easier for community members to spread the word about Firefox and Firefox initiative,

    Tech Speakers

    Tech Speakers was a six week program combining group speaking practice and technical content development. A fantastic curriculum, combined with live mentorship opportunities is resulting in a growing base of high-quality volunteer speakers.

    Market Understanding

    Mozilla serves users in markets all over the world.  To deliver useful insights and research that will help product and functional teams be successful we’re seeing deep investment in  Mozilla’s global community to bring a competitive edge.

    Firefox OS Core Team Africa

    With Fx OS launching in 21 African countries in 2015 , there is an opportunity to test a new approach to building new relationships and new communities of supporters/volunteers across the continent.  A series of experiments. Goals have been to build out programs that to get new contributors involved in Firefox OS activities to increase awareness on the product and make an impact on product goals

    Webmaker Research

    By creating a launch playbook modeled after Firefox OS we will be able to create launch teams in target markets, this will result in a number of new users. Supporting local content leads we will be able to generate original content and learn from local communities in order to deliver and build a more effective localized product and content.


    The Firefox OS team has embarked on many different initiatives and campaigns to bring Firefox OS to market without always having sufficient understanding and knowledge of the reality on the ground, due to a lack of local market data. This local market data is extremely difficult to obtain, let alone, update regularly if you’re not actually on the ground. Leveraging the Marketpulse tool  community regularly collects price and user data for Firefox OS phones in their local market and web stores providing this much needed data.

    You can see there’s a lot going on,  and that even within each of these projects multiple experiments are taking place.  There’s a lot to be excited about in the coming months for participation at Mozilla. You can track the this and other Participation Team activity through our Heartbeat tool, or by reaching out to us directly.  In the near future, we’ll surface more concrete examples of what we’re learning,  and we expect, celebrating the new successes in participation at Mozilla.

    We’re in Whistler next week, check out for Lucy’s post on what we’ll be up to there!