Reflections on the Mozilla Media Festival
I'm back in Canada after a very productive five days in London at the Mozilla Media Festival. It takes a lot to get me to travel for events, but I really love the Mozilla Festival, with its eclectic mix of artists, designers, educators, journalists, and developers. I'm a mix of "arts and science" and it's nice to be with people who get both.
There are all kinds of things I could discuss here, but I'll share just a few thoughts. First, as I said to Boaz after the first day's keynote, where Brett Gaylor announced the 1.0 release of Popcorn.js and the NFB's Kat Cizek had just released their new Popcorn-powered web documentary on stage and in parallel on wired.com, "Popcorn is a thing now." Everywhere we went at the festival, and in all kinds of keynotes and presentations, people were talking about, working with, and extending popcorn.js. We could have easily done a whole conference on Popcorn, with separate tracks for content creators and developers (and no I'm not volunteering to run this). No matter how we tried to set-up our sessions, we were always crushed by standing-room only crowds wanting to learn more about how to use Popcorn. It was really rewarding to see that kind of uptake for our work.
The festival was also the very first time we've managed to gather (almost) our entire developer community in one place. With the exception of Rick Waldron, and some alumni, we had everyone there. Thanks to Mozilla I even got to bring 4 of my students. It was incredible to have everyone there, since it meant that we were able to build quite a few prototypes, demos, and new plugins based on things we heard in the sessions. From support to SilverLight video to accelerometer control to Document Cloud integration. Jon and Dave even managed to get one much discussed feature working: multi-device popcorn events (imagine watching TV and having popcorn data show on your tablet or phone). It's so much fun to throw people of all backgrounds in a room together who don't normally meet and start brainstorming about what to build...then building it. I've worked with many students in a Mozilla context, but this team is one of the strongest, and I was really proud to have them there with me. Scott, Chris, Dave, and Jon are simply amazing.
On the gaming front, it was amazing to see people's responses to our Joystick API running live in a Firefox build at the science fair. The light went on for many people who suddenly realized they were on the web, yet doing something that seemed so foreign to the web. It's not foreign anymore. Jon and Alan took Rescue Fox and separated the camera movement from the grappling beam control, allowing 2 separate axes to be controlled by two different sticks. It is such a basic thing that you'd expect from any real game, but until now it was impossible on the web.
"You mean this is the web?" Yeah, and it's coming soon, thanks to Paladin. We had a lot of interest in what we're planning for Paladin in general. People are hungry for this kind of thing to work in the browser.
There's so much more to write and show, but I'll have to leave it for future posts. The main take away for me from the festival is that that our big bet, with projects like Processing.js, Popcorn.js, and now Paladin.js, that mixing pure browser/web devs with content people, artists, and other non-techies in the context of the web is a winner. The diversity of talent that's gathering around events like the festival and these projects is going to produce some important code, art, and community. I'm glad to be part of it.