Drumbeat Festival 2010

At the end of October 2010, the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival went down in Barcelona. I, Sveinn Sandvik Svendsen went there representing the Kaizendo project. I also dropped by the Open Ed conference since it was co-located. Following is a recap of my experiences there, my exploration of the FLOSS culture around Mozilla, and a little about what I learned.

I want to thank the NUUG and Mozilla foundations for supplying Kaizendo with the funding for this trip.

Appetizer (Entrada): First encounter

I was running on fumes from the minute I landed in Barcelona. The only thing stopping me from eating passers-by was my even more dire need for sleep. I checked into the Hotel Principal Monday the 28th of October, and after a quick nap, I went to the neighboring restaurant "Organic is Orgasmic". I ordered vegetarian tapas en Français from the friendly waiter, and waited patiently for my meal. After it had been served, I looked at the plate. It had six different heaps of things I didn't really know what was, and also a pizza slice. It all looked a bit strange, but strange as in colorful with a mixture of smells that I hadn't seen together before. But, I dived in, and soon realized that all of these elements fit perfectly together. I combined the pizza with the guacamole(-ish), the bean-paste and the broccoli-mash. All of these had something to give each other: I tasted one of them, and still chewing on that, I tried another one. I tried different combinations, even different orders for the combinations of tastes, and every bite was a new taste experience.

During the meal, I had noticed some people coming in, speaking English. There were a few piercings and a mustaches amongst them. I had an eerie feeling that these people were hackers, and decided to act on that hunch. They turned out to be members of P2PU's tech team. I got to chatting with them, and asked what they were doing after their meal. They told me they were going to their "Hacker Dungeon" to continue their "tech sprint" which had been going on for a few days. I spent Monday and Tuesday evenings hanging out at the Dungeon, getting to know these people and their project, seeing how they worked together, and helping them a little on their way. It was amazing to see such a community based mostly on volunteer work. After wetting my appetite, I had a hunger for more openness enthusiasts.

First main course (Primer): Open Ed

Tuesday morning I got up early, had chocolate cereals and toast with jam in the hotel cafeteria, and set off to the Cosmo Caixa, a wonderful science museum and also the venue for the Open Ed 2010 conference. Open Ed pretty much went slowly by. I had a program with only titles to go by, so finding out which lectures were most interesting for Kaizendo or myself wasn't easy. During Open Ed, I still found lots of interesting people with interesting projects:

Mostly there were people from different academia tip-toeing ever so slightly towards open standards, open publications and such. The people there tried to not over-hyping what they were doing and coming with realistic estimates for the use of OER in their areas. What I experienced at Open Ed was sober and optimistic realism.

I was looking forward to having a taste of the Real Deal of openness, i.e. Mozilla.

Second main course (Secon plat): Drumbeat

After attending the Open Ed, I was really hungry for more radical solutions to education and learning methods in the future. Tuesday evening I met up with David Bruant (with whom I were to co-host a session) at the Mozilla volunteers meetup, and while at the meetup I asked Nathaniel James what I should do during the Festival. He thought for a bit, then told me:

Do one third sessions that you plan to go to, one third random sessions, and one third wandering about.

Having no idea whether this suggestion would work out, I still followed his advice. Wednesday evening started with a reception and a science fair at the museum of contemporary art (MACBA) at El Placa Dels Angels, and I presented Kaizendo there:

All photos by mozillaeu on flickr, CC-BY-SA 2.0 licensed

My enthusiasm for Kaizendo grew with every person stopping, and soon I was shouting “Get yer business cards and stamps here!” loud across the hall. My enthusiasm seemed to appeal to people, and I talked non-stop for three hours, and some helpful, lovely people (from P2PU and local volunteers) came with drinks to me during the fair. Apparently because I looked exhausted but hadn’t noticed it yet myself.

That evening inspired me. I finished it in discussion with a representative of Wolne Lektury (publishing and categorizing/tagging the texts of classical works from polish and international litterature) about the formatting of texts used in education. Daddy D from the Hackbus strolled in on the conversation, and it continued for approximately an hour until midnight.

The day after (starting at 9:30), I started exploring the different tents around the Placa del Angels, and I learned a lot about the different communities gathered there:

Karien Bezuidenhout from the Shuttleworth Foundation wanted an update on the project, how long we’d’ve gotten so far. We had a comfortable and encouraging chat, and I explained to her how inspiring it is to be a part of the drumbeat community and to work on a project that can potentially change the way we learn.

The Drumbeat festival had extreme diversity. There some people hacking the entire festival, some were roaming, some were marketing. Everyone was learning, and they were having a fun time doing it! What the Drumbeat festival succeeded in was to display to the different communities of the freedom and openness cultures of the web what diversity is in the Drumbeat community, and what strength lies in the many areas it sprawls across. To me, there are many possibilities to explore in this community, many projects to watch, many people to learn from. There are more than I can ever cover in a lifetime, but I know that the few items I try will provide me with special and unique experience. I’m still getting to grips with all the things I encountered at the Drumbeat Festival, and a lot of the information and contacts will take a while to digest.

I was thoroughly sated on free and open source software, and a little tired. So the last few days let me regain my energy:

Dessert (Postres)

The Festival ended in a party at City Hall, a club by the Placa del Cataluña.

The last day I took a stroll throught the wonderful Parc Güell, designed by the Catalán architect Antoni Gaudí. The views were wonderful, with everything ranging from curling paths to great terraces.

A well deserved relaxing day after the four really intense days of conference and festival, and a sweet, light aftertaste for the whole experience.

Further reading

The entire programme (of scheduled events) with links to etherpads containing specific information about the different sessions: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Drumbeat/schedule 
Openmatt's first blog entry from the festival: http://openmatt.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/3-2-1-drumbeat-festival-blasts-off-in-barcelona/

A blog entry and a video:

Open education resources:

Sveinn Sandvik Svendsen