The open web & privacy: Highlights from Mozfest


I’m fully recovered from my very short (and intense) trip to London for Mozfest and am eager to share some insights. This was my first time at Mozfest and I’m happy to say it lives up to the hype. Forget the stuffy lectures – this event was all about brainstorming, collaborating and making. It was an amazing collection of creative thinkers and do-ers! Here are a few things Mozfest-ers got me thinking about:

Open access, open source, open data, open web…what’s the difference?
I’m a big advocate for open access. But, I’m embarrassed to say, I haven’t thought much about how “open web” or “open data” pertain to “open access” and “open source”. Mozfest gave me a crash course on the relationships between these terms. Here’s my take:

Open access refers to unrestricted web access to research, including peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles, theses, or books. Open access journals, like the Journal of Media Literacy Education are important for making research and information easily accessible for everyone.

Open source is a development model that encourages 1) sharing a product’s design (code, blueprint, etc.) through free license and 2) collaborating online to improve a product or design that is freely redistributed and frequently updated. Mozilla Firefox is an open source browser that has been modified to build new applications, such as Songbird. As a result of open source, better products can be created.

Open data. There is a belief that data, specifically government and scientific data, should be available to everyone to use or republish without copyright or patent restrictions. provides data from the U.S. government in hopes of making the government “more transparent” and to encourage creative use of data to drive innovation.

– Open web. Open access, open source, and open data are all part of the open web. According to Mozilla rep, Santiago Hollmann, the open web is defined by 1) decentralization, 2) transparency, 3) hackability, 4) open development, and 5) accessibility. The open web is critical for pushing internet tools and content in new directions and for empowering many groups and individuals (not just companies or the government).

The Mozilla Open Badges Initiative promotes an open web by encouraging individuals or organizations to create, administer and verify badges. Check out this video from Doug Belshaw to learn more about open badges:

Don’t wait to share your ideas and work
So much great work is being done to make the internet open, accessible and meaningful for everyone. I went to a session hosted by the Open Knowledge Foundation, OpenStreetMap, MozillaWiki, Wikimedia UK, and Creative Commons where we discussed how to improve collaboration and sharing among communities who take more “open” approaches.
Something we all agree on: Share your ideas, challenges, process and products early – don’t wait till you’re “finished”! Sharing openly and early on will result in more innovative products, better research, and improved learning experiences.

Privacy concerns and open web
I’ve been wondering how the open web movement will impact our privacy. Turns out, many others are thinking about this too. There was a thread of Mozfest sessions dedicated to privacy, and during the festival Mozilla announced Lightbeam, a Firefox add-on that shows the relationship between the sites you visit and third-party sites, making our interactions and experiences much more transparent.

Through, you can calculate your “digital shadow” and discover ways to reduce traces of your activity. Check out the game Data Dealer if you’re interested in learning more about what’s done with your information online.

For more highlights from Mozfest, check out the Mozfest Tumblr page.

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