At the just-completed Mozilla Summit, Webmaker folks demo’d a nice upcoming feature - using TogetherJS from Mozilla Labs in Thimble to allow collaborative learning.
The past summer was huge for Webmaker: our newly redesigned site began to operate as a central hub for all our tools; the integrity of our site was tested at 1600 separate events around the world; 30,000 users signed up and we quickly learned where our weak spots lay. And then John Cusack told a million people to break the web with us
On August 12th, the webmaker.org product team joined folks from the communications and mentor teams of the Mozilla foundation for 4 solid days of building. The framing of the week was a follow through on our current development sprint - David Humphrey outlined our goals in his “Nine Weeks” blog…
My daughter turned 4 a few months ago. We were musing over how to ask family not to give too much: we’re uncomfortable when she receives a lot of gifts. We don’t want to be ungrateful, so we experimented with asking people to give her $4. We’d then talk with her about saving a 1/3 of the money, spending 1/3, and donating a 1/3 to a charity.
Tonight we discussed what she’d like to do with the 1/3 she’d give to charity. We’d discussed inequality before - and she said she’d like to give the money to kids who needed it. We talked about places in the world at war, and how the kids in those countries suffered. We talked about Syria. And I thought of Bassel.
Bassel Khartabil is a contributor to open source projects. He is a developer. He’s a tinkerer. He’s help build two projects that have had a profound impact on my life: Creative Commons and Mozilla. And for over a year, he has been detained in a Syrian prison - arrested by the government in a mass roundup in Damascus.
Bassel had arranged a screening of my documentary, Rip, in a Damascus hackerspace. We’d exchanged a few emails. I had a chance to meet him in 2011 in Seoul at a Creative Commons gathering, and was very impressed by him. Humble, generous, intelligent. We discussed a potential collaboration - we chatted and explored Seoul. I snapped this picture of him. I had forgotten about this picture and found it on my computer in a backup of cell phone pics.
Bassel’s curiosity is the same as mine and my colleagues at Mozilla. He has a family. I am grateful to him, and upset that he remains in prison for being a hacker and an independent thinker. I feel for his friends and family, and hope that the web he helped build can help in its way to dismantle regimes such as Assad’s.
Layla donated a third of her birthday money to children in Syria with savethechildren.com. Bassel, we hope you are ok.
Background: Webmaker as a community of craftThere’s been broad consensus in the Webmaker community that building a community of practice and enabling users to share their work is an important part of the Webmaker formula. So in 2013, Webmaker.org will evolve to be a place where users are watching, remixing, and creating their own piece of the web - acquiring web literacies, including media production, HTML, and analytic skills as they go.
Leading with making
We’ll build an information architecture and user experience that creates opportunities for our users to make something from the moment they arrive on our site. We want it to be immediately clear that this is a place to “get your hands dirty”. Part of how we’ll get there is by featuring great content made with our tools.
On Webmaker, you’ll be able to watch an artful presentation similar toNPR’s 2012 Musicians in Memorium, and then make your own. You’ll be able to string your favourite YouTube videos together in your own “Top 10 list”, and then have your friends leave media production tips on your work. You’ll be able to make audiovisual memes and mashups on your phone. And you’ll earn digital literacy badges to represent the skills you’ve picked up along the way. All of this will be presented as a consistent, unified, and seamless Webmaker experience.
To get here requires an evolution of how we think of “tools” and “projects”, as well as our product design process.
On the tools side, we will begin to merge our web apps together. We want users to have a “Webmaker” experience, rather than separate Thimble, Popcorn, and OpenBadger modalities. These code bases and projects won’t go away - Webmaker.org will simply become a “client” of the great foundational open source projects we’ve created over the past 2 years. The recent demo of Webmaker X (see screencast below, and Doug Belshaw’s excited blog post here, as well as Lyre’s breakdown on how MarkupAPIs could be a game changer here.)
On the projects side, we need to focus all of our activities towards building a community of craft. An essential aspect of getting there is a robust way to showcase the work of these communities. Building galleries of user’s work and robust user profiles/portfolios will be a key priority in Q1. We’ll need more nuance around what we consider a “project”. As a baseline, a project is a templated piece of content that invites you to contribute, reshape and remix/hack it. A video that needs an extra shot from you, a media rich web page whose meaning is changed when you hack the source code. Iterating on the FORM of these projects is a critical next step for Webmaker.
One of the ways we’ll do this is by leaning on our excellent partnership development team. Engagements with the Born This Way Foundation, explorations into the Mars Explorer mission, comedy hack days, and Cloud Filmmaking experiments are already underway. Our partnership process will start with editorial strategy and content. Our criteria will be: “what is magnetic, and will draw people in? What would be fun or satisfying to watch, remix or make in Webmaker?” We’ll let these efforts be part of an agile development process that can have a direct influence on the development of our platform.
We’ll also build the capacity for anyone to build projects - ensuring that we aren’t a bottleneck to the infectious energy of the Webmaker community will be something we bake into our work on user galleries in Q1. The entire Webmaker effort is built from “innovation at the edges” - Hackasaurus, WebMadeMovies/Popcorn, Open Badges, MoJo/OpenNews - these are all community inspired efforts that have not only had influence on our product: they’ve built it’s foundation. The Community Learning group will make sure this happens as often in 2013 as it’s happened over the last several years.
Mozilla staff will also work to innovate projects and content-types - David Ascher is leading an initiative to reboot Mozilla Labs, and within that structure we hope to see forays into games and other types of content that will eventually feed back into Webmaker. I’m also looking forward to having staff team members who can quickly make things with our tools to test out theories, engage new audiences and keep the site fresh.
Finally, it’s clear that we also need projects that address very specific parts of our Web Literacies framework. Our information architecture shouldn’t put these into a “learning ghetto”, setting them aside from interest lead projects, but we ought to be clear to our users that there is a pathway to learning specific skills. We’ll continue to build on the good work that’s been started in this area already - many of the projects currently found on Webmaker.org fall nicely into this category of project, and we’ll keep iterating, testing and improving how we teach these skills.
Webmaker roadmap 0.1Attached are public links to the Webmaker roadmap. As you’ll see, we want to phase these improvements in over time in an agile fashion. We want to make sure we’re still seeing gradual improvement to our existing platform, while setting a goal of transitioning to these proposed changes at the end of Q2 2013.
View as slideshowThis slideshow explore:
- Our current challenges, and the solutions to these challenges
- Some proposed designs to address these challenges
- A detailed look at 5 releases of the Webmaker platform in the first 2 quarters of 2013
For our first week back to work, a small group of MoFos met for a few days of offsite. Knowing that 2013 is going to be a year of enabling creativity, we thought it would be suitable to meet at the Art Bar of the Gladstone hotel. Our goal was to create several prototypes of new functionality in Webmaker that would help users create new types of content. Here are the demos. note: hit the full screen button if you need to look at text.
WebmakerX (Bobby, Atul)Live branch: http://webmakerx.toolness.org/#/bpzokgjb
what is it?
- Combines Thimble and Popcorn Maker interfaces
what it means for us technically:
- Implements Popcorn.js as Data attributes within HTML elements
- exposing popcorn functionality through markup (instappopin) and providing a GUI layer
- Markup API is declarative so its very “human readable”
- Popcorn projects are published in thimble, its an elegant combination of our code bases
what it means for the user:
- You can see popcorn code while you author
- We can merge the experience of creating the layout and HTML with authoring the timeline
- You can control your entire media production process from start to finish, using either code or a GUI
- You can learn to code while making cool, time based media
Chapter Markers for Slide Shows (Pomax)live branch: http://jbuckley.ca:8886/templates/basic
Slideshow that was produced: http://jbuckley.ca:8886/v/2.html (note: navigate using the arrows on the side of the embed)
what is it?:
- Popcorn plugins that let users set time markers (think “chapters”) and then navigate to the previous/next mark or an arbitrary mark based on its name
what it means for the user:
- ability to create cool slide shows
- website- type “pages” or sections
- educational/instructional videos with “skip to …” functionality
- scrubbing “markers”
- create media that isn’t just “play through”, but rather interactive narratives, ie choose your own adventure, hackable comics, visual novel„ non-linear story telling etc.
- in the future you might be able to do key framing, and create tweens between marks
what it means for us technically:
- it points the way to Popcorn Maker being a method of accepting code snippets of functionality as “triggers”, rather than just “time events”
- In the “WebmakerX” universe, we could imagine many of these types of functionality extensions that we create, and that are also created by a community
- Even the timeline is now a maleable asset, rather than a fixed constant, allowing for customised (non-sequential) playback timelines by triggering a currentTime change
Popcorn Maker video editing (Scott Downe)live branch http://jbuckley.ca:8887/templates/basic/
what is it?:
- Ability to slice together youtube, html5 and soundcloud media into one seamless playback (audio, video, visuals, text and code snippets)
- Ability to set the time of a sequence, rather than have a “media conductor”
what it means for the user:
- you can edit together bits of video from around the web, and combine them with all of the other popcorn goodies
- You can make awesome videos on the web without having to download/compress/re-upload etc - we MASSIVELY speed up the web video production process
- greater level of remixability
- ability to create “mash ups”
- videos as samples (Kutiman http://www.youtube.com/user/kutiman )
- ability to create simple “narrated” experiences - ie take a video and put a voiceover on top
- editing becomes as easy as cut and paste
- potential for a user to pull in all of the attribution data with the content
- when we land this, we move away from Popcorn Maker being controlled by a central video, and instead have a user-defined timeline
In-tool youtube upload (Jbuck)
live branch http://jbuckley.ca:8888/templates/basic
what is it?:
- Directly upload video from your camera to youtube
what it means for the user:
- user can make video record from their webcam to use as content for Webmaking
- frictionless - rather than recording locally and uploading, or recording at youtube and copy/pasting URL, you can do it all from within Popcorn Maker
what it means for us technically:
- We’ll want to start thinking of the “media” tab on Popcorn Maker as a place for multipe sources of media - this is where our “save for later” media should begin to appear
- capability to add content directly to the “media tab” / “gallery” / “save for later”
Save for Later (Jess, Blake, Ian)
what is it?:
- A clipping add-on that allows you to take image, text, video or html content from around the web, pull that into a gallery and then use it as remixable content for your Webmaker projects
what it means for the user:
- as you browse the web, you can bookmark/pin/clip media and images that you like in order to remix them later
- you can essentially use their “bookmarks” from within the browser as remixing content
- you can pull in content from other services like “gimme bar” or potentially pinterest or git gists directly into your webmaker “gallery” or asset library
- think about if built into Firefox, this could be a seemless experience directly associated with your Persona identity
what it means for us technically:
- It shows how we could incorporate Firefox and Webmaker
In this year that is now ending, I had the privilege to work with an amazing crew to create Popcorn Maker. To say that I’m proud doesn’t really sum it up: of course I am proud, but mostly I feel grateful. I don’t think I realized how ambitious we were until halfway through this summer, when we REALLY needed to put the pedal to the metal in order to pull it off. In hindsight, a lot could have gone wrong, and a lot was on the line, so it’s with no small measure of gratitude to my colleagues, to the fates, and to everyone’s extraordinary effort that I’m ending 2012 feeling like we did exactly what we set out to do.
I remember feeling this way when finishing films as well - a certain euphoria and exhaustion, and a sense that the the work only really starts when you release something out of your internal group and into the world. It strikes me that all things worth doing are hard (at least for me). So as I look to new challenges and opportunities in 2013, I wanted to list out what I feel is a Survival Guide For Directors ™. All of these ideas owe to directors that I’ve learned from personally, or through writing (Rands, for example).
PICK GREAT COLLABORATORS
Software and Media Production are both collaborative crafts. As a director, you’re only one member of a team. Your job is to help people do their job well, remember why they’re doing it, and keep all eyes on the prize. Pick people who you know have crossed the finish line, or for whom this is a first chance to do something great. Try and ensure they have as much stake and opportunity in the project as you do.
OWN A FEATURE…..
Whether you’re recording sound, editing the footage, writing some HTML or pitching in on design, you need to bring some part of this to conclusion with your own hands. Not only does it set the right tone, but it grants you an understanding of the team’s challenges that you don’t get by delegating. Particularly if you’re embarking on a new subject area or technical approach, respect your collaborators and spend some time understanding their world.
….BUT GET OUT OF THE WAY
Since you’ve picked great collaborators, let them be great. Give them a sense of the vision, but let animators run wild. Let designers surprise you with an unexpected innovation. Remember your developers need time to bake a feature and that they’re as or more creative than you. Let your sound editors create brilliant juxtapositions you just don’t have the talent to dream up. Your job after all is to look after the audience, so do them the favour of letting artists be artists.
TRUST YOUR GUT…
Especially on projects with a long time horizon, everyone is going to have an answer when something goes wrong. Oh, and something always goes wrong. If something feels like it’s the wrong approach. or too easy of a solution, or not quite right - it probably is. You’ll need lots of advice, but learn to trust your own.
…BUT BE FLEXIBLE
You’ll never work on a project that turns out exactly like the original idea, so learn to adapt when real life steps in. A team member may leave, a documentary subject might change due to current events, you might run out of time or money. You’ll need to cut features, change your narration, change your story or your product. Remember that the proposal or slide deck you created at the start of this is just a thought experiment - the real test is whether it can actually exist in the world, and sometimes no amount of brute force or late nights can produce something that isn’t meant to be.
…JUST NOT TOO FLEXIBLE
At the end of the day, what drives things to the finish line is vision. It might need to change, but everyone needs a picture in their mind of what you are building together, who it’s for, and why the world will be better when it arrives. So as you adapt to reality, make sure that you and your team aren’t building something that they wouldn’t have signed up for. That way mediocrity lies, and that is cancer. Encourage an environment of peer review and critique, so calling something out as being not up to snuff doesn’t feel personal.
TAKE YOUR TIME WITH THE CREDITS
Have someone read them over. You never get in trouble for thanking anyone, ever.
And above all, don’t be a jerk. Life is too short. When you work in software or movies, generally everyone is there because they love it. Don’t be the person that changes that. Instead, be as light of a touch as humanly possible , help everyone get the job done, be a bullshit umbrella and fight like hell for your team.
Following on some great posts by David Humphrey, I’ve used Popcorn Maker to post some thoughts around the direction we’re headed with Webmaker content.
This post is meant to provide some specificity to the 2013 Webmaker goals wiki. In this wiki, we’ve identified “webpages that move” created via tools that “make it way easier than it is today to mix your phone, web and social media content together into a compelling, moving collage that you can share with friends” as the core of the Webmaker experience next year.
This type of content exists in the wild, and in particular the Popcorn.js community has created some fantastic examples of these types of web pages. With a combination of Popcorn Maker, Thimble and the X-Ray Goggles, we’re poised to let anyone make these media-rich experiences.
I’ve put these content types into three categories, and I’m keen for feedback:
The Audio Slide Show
Movie from the cloud
The Procedural Story
Please leave some comments - in my next post, I’ll explore how we can build social into the experience of making and learning with our tools.
On Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting a local Mozillian (a Mozilla community member) in my home city. I live in Victoria, BC, which is home to a small but passionate tech community. Despite this, I often feel like where I live and what I do are often very separate. So it was with a lot of pleasure that I met with Emma Irwin for lunch to debrief on the #Mozparty event she ran this summer. Emma lives in Sooke, which is near Victoria, but commutes in for her job. We ended up covering a lot of ground, and also discussed her plans to hold a popcorn event this fall (yay!) and about how to build the Webmaker community generally.
I should also say that Emma is a Mozilla Rep (or Remo). The Mozilla reps program “…provides a simple framework and a specific set of tools to help Mozillians to organize and/or attend events, recruit and mentor new contributors, document and share activities, and support their local communities better.” This was a learning experience for me - I’ve had the pleasure of knowing some Mozilla reps from previous Mozilla events, but this was the first time I was meeting another Mozillian “in the wild” so to speak. I wasn’t at an event, I wasn’t at an office, I was privileged to speak with someone who was volunteering their valuable time towards the same mission that I’m employed to serve. Emma is a busy mother, with a full time job, who has volunteered for many other causes, and was choosing to spend an increasing amount of time with the WebMaker initiative. Listening was important here :)
My colleague Benjamin Simon had created a simple form and asked me and my co-workers to poll people who had hosted events. Emma had a blast running her event - she had a few great volunteers help her - their blogs are pretty great testaments to the fun and learning that participants got out of these events. She also had a lot of suggestions of how things can get better.
Here is what Emma had to say:
How did she see her webmaking experience level before the event? Emma has been a developer for about 12 years, so she has a very advanced level of web literacy. She is also frequent volunteer and community organizer. She works for Royal Roads University as a developer - she isn’t an instructor but has many colleagues who are. Royal Roads offers a lot of distance learning so the subject matter is in the air she breathes. Note: I think we could tweak this section of our survey to better indicate how people self identify - an instructor, developer, artists, etc.
How helpful did they feel our projects/tools were (or did they use something else)?
Very helpful - Emma had been following the Hackasaurus project before it was folded into the webmaker initiative, so was familiar with X Ray Goggles and based her event around that. She used this as a starting point, and moved to Thimble afterwards
Did they feel like their guests learned very much?
Yes - Emma felt everyone learned quite a bit.
What could be improved with materials/explanations/tutorials?
The decision to remove the publishing functionality from X-Ray Goggles for the summer campaign was hard on Emma’s event. They simply weren’t prepared for it, so had to scramble a bit to explain to their kids. The reasons why were understood, but hadn’t been well communicated.
Emma reported that almost everyone felt the tooltips were too close to the mouse - they confused the kids. She felt they should be in one place - almost all kids struggled with this.
She also felt there were way too many comments in the projects. They didn’t make sense to her learners - they were too meta and the number of them distracted her impatient participants (who were 9-14 years old).
The different methods that webmaker.org and Thimble displayed projects was also confusing, and sometimes took away from the event. Since projects were only sorted by difficulty within webmaker.org, she found herself accidentally asking a kid to do a project out of their league. All kids love Zombies but that particular task was actually hard. They were moving fast and would have rather been troubleshooting something else.
What could be improved with materials/explanations/tutorials?
Emma found the reference material she found on P2PU helpful, but that it was bit “scattered”.
What could be improved with the event platform?
Emma had already filed a bunch of bugs on the event platform (note: I tried to find Emma’s bugs on Bugzilla and the Webmakers issue tracker and couldn’t - makes me wonder where she filed them and suspect our process for that could be much better). She could not, and still doesn’t think she knows how to, edit an event she has submitted. update:As Emma notes, she filed her bugs here, and it looks like they were quickly fixed. She didn’t know this, though, so seems there is some disconnect there.
A few other very helpful insights I gleaned from this rock star contributor:
Emma told me that #1 challenge to hosting the event was explaining it to people. Whether it is explaining “hacking” to explaining the nomenclature of the events, ie a “kitchen table is this. A pop up is that”, to webmaking generally - every single step of the process involves an explanation. We should try, when we can, to just use plain speak. Emma has been working through these issues on her blog.
Emma led with the XRay goggles - and based on some slides that the Hackasaurus team had published, she remixed these for her local event. See her remixed slides here. This gave her a way to spin the event to her local context, her volunteers, etc. She had confidence rolling into the event because she had actually taught with the XRay Goggles before and had given a lot of thought as to the best way to explain them.
Emma had actually taught with the XRay Goggles in schools - it struck me that this was a great event type - the school visit. She shows up with her laptop, gives some fun slides, and they hack for a bit. Though she reported principals and other teachers being uncomfortable with allowing her into a classroom to teach kids how to hack…
Something notable she reported is that when she described her job (a programmer) lots of kids lit up and asked how they could do that. Emma is obviously proud of her work and enjoys it, and this resulted in the kids showing an interest in that as a career. She has anecdotal reporting that the kids were doing the activities at home.
Finally, one thing Emma noticed was that her age range was too broad - she had kids from 9-14, and found that the younger ages trailed off at one point or another during the day. She’d have closer age ranges, such as 11-13, for next time.
Speaking of next time - I’m pretty excited that Emma has another event coming up, this time using Popcorn. Luckily I’ll be able to attend, so if you are like Emma and I and live in the Victoria area, please come by!
This is a detailed post that has been a long time coming. In summary:
- Popcorn has achieved a lot in the last 5 months
- We’re discovering that our template model is creating too much complexity
- We’re realizing that Popcorn is a powerful media literacy tool
- We’re increasing our focus on Popcorn Maker as a remixer
0.2 - Ghostbusters
0.3 - Breakfast Club
0.5 - Pulp Fiction
What we’ve been working towardWe articulated a design philosophy of Popcorn Maker in February:
- Let people create great delightful interactive video experiences - quickly
- Always stay human readable: HTML, CSS and JS.
- Let users walk away with the source and hack it.
- …and importantly, encourage the maximum amount of flexibility and generativity*.
For Popcorn Maker, we saw the potential for generativity withinin templates. We imagined templates would be the vehicle that would let new contributors create an infinite variety of different interactive video experiences - essentially a video app factory. By creating a base template, we would invite webmakers to modify these templates, submit them to us, and create a virtuous circle of invention and creativity.
What we’re learningWith the launch of Mozilla’s Summer Code Party, a series of events designed to kickoff the webmaker program, we are in a great place to test our assumptions and see how people are using the app. We’ve learned a lot, but two things I want to call out:
- Generativity generates complexity
- Popcorn is an interest based learning tool
1- Generativity generates complexityWhen we imagined the innovation that templates would foster, we didn’t (but probably could have) imagined the engineering problems that would emerge as a result. Each template created a chain reaction of bugs, Quality Assurance problems, and testing issues. To ship the 4 templates we created for the summer campaign, we ended up playing whack-a-mole with bugs and features began to slip.
A case in point is the Robots template that we produced for Storycamp. Our process worked like this:
- The storycamp team (Laura Hilliger, Ben Moskwoitz, Jacob Caggiano, Kate Hudson and I) decided we wanted to teach students “procedural storytelling” - that a story can be told by changing a set of variables
- I created some content by remixing video from the Internet Archive
- Kate created a template that would allow learners to remix this content by adding popcorn plugins - change the google maps plugin and the robots invade your home town, change the flickr plugin and they’re pursuing different humans. Most popular - a new popcorn plugin that used speak.js to allow you to make the robots say whatever you want. Fun!
- The problem started when this new template begun crashing browsers. Turns out that each time the robot talked, it actually needed to start a new computing process in the web browser to transcode a new audio file. Each time the bloody robot would talk, 300 mb of RAM was being used up! Slower computers fell to their knees. Solutions were proposed, teeth were gnashed. (note: this was our implementation, not the fault of the very cool speak.js library).
- We ran into problems with our manual tests. Could you swap in youtube? Would that work on export? Turns out that CSS animation is crashing Firefox. Is it crashing Chrome? Omygod have you seen this in Safari?
- you get the picture.
#2 - Popcorn is a great learning toolSince the Mozilla Summer Code Party would be a coming out party for Popcorn Maker, we were pretty nervous when 50 or so kids assembled, ready to use the app. I filmed them using it:
A few things became apparent right away:
- Kids get it. Aside from a few annoying papercuts (timeline zoom, our event editor),they found the interface intuitive
- They got the idea of mixing video with web content. To the point that they didn’t understand why we thought this was cool :)
- They got excited when we let them work with existing Youtube content. They (naturally) thought their project was cooler when it was based on their favourite pop star or TV show
It was clear at the Toronto event, though, that there was some pretty interesting learning going on. While the kids naturally took to remixing using video, it was definitely the case that none of them had ever used a web app to combine video and 3rd party APIs before.
Looking at the first draft, its clear that Popcorn does address many of these proposed literacies. I circled the literacies I felt were relevant to using Popcorn Maker.
Of course, there’s a fine line between which literacies we depend on vs which ones we teach - but clearly Popcorn addresses many of the “soft skills” of webmaking. And it raises for me a central point of this whole initiative - we aren’t only teaching people to code - we’re teaching people how to express themselves on the web. I’ve never been a coder, but you’re damn straight I’m a webmaker. We need to make sure our tools address not simply how to right semantically accurate HTML and CSS, but that they make you understand that the web is a malleable thing.
From the webmaker website:
"Mozilla believes it’s crucial that we give people the skills they need to understand, shape and actively participate in [the web] instead of just passively consuming it."Douglas Rushkoff sums this up in the nice (and gleefully bombastic) turn of phrase “program or be programmed”.
Watch this clip from my 2008 documentary Rip! A Remix Manifesto - Mark Hosler of Negativland sums up culture jamming - you can stop after Mark raises his fist :)
Hosler’s desire to remix media, to participate in culture rather than consuming it, is the same impulse that led Atul to create the X-Ray Goggles. Whether you’re remixing a commercial or hacking the HTML of the New York Times, you’re reflecting on why and how a piece of media is being crafted. And both are a path towards creating your OWN media - to be a participant.
Or as Faisal Aziz, a webmaker who had arranged a mozparty event in India described when he realized he could remix the Robots template to include a Bollywood film
"OMG!!!!!!! That is totally awesomeeeeeeee!!!!!!! ,…the reason i why i love this tools is freedom to select videos which resembles regional cultures, we can experiment with our local videos and make learning easy,interesting and entertaining."
Popcorn Maker as remix appLooking at the kinds of creations people have created with Popcorn through this remix-as-learning lens, we realized that the most successful projects have in fact been remixes. A few examples:
The Pop up Video template:
Talk back to any video on the web - cheekily add comments or context
History In These Streets
Mix together Google Street view and a narration hosted on soundcloud
Ryan Merkley, our COO at the Mozilla Foundation, demo’ed Popcorn at Ted Global using a custom newscaster template. He created a mock newscast that drew dynamically from Google Maps, weather information, and flickr.
These creations all had a few important things in common:
- They’re created by combining media from across the web - including 3rd party APIs
- They’re relatively quick to make
- They completely fill a constrained, rectangular layout
- To further highlight Popcorn as a learning tool, and to evaluate how it’s used by casual webmakers, we’re aiming to host the app at webmaker.org as soon as possible
- we’re rethinking the interface to make it dead simple for people to quickly remix their favourite videos. Rather than a nice to have, support for hosting sites such as youtube become high priority
- we’re focusing on one universal layout/template, and ensuring all of our popcorn plugins work with this new layout. This will simplify our development, speed up QA, ensure that popcorn creations work embedded in 3rd party sites, and reduce odd interface requirements such as target areas and certian plugins only working with certain templates.
Taking a cue for our colleagues in the thimble app, we’ll also replace “templates” with “projects”, which are essentially pre-populated starter content that demonstrates how to use the app in a creative way, and which invite the user to jump in and remix. We think that THIS is where the generativity lies - showing people different and creative ways to use our app, and providing them with starter content that lets them get to work immediately. It is also a key goal of the Mozilla Foundation in 2012 to provide easy ways for contributors to get involved in our projects - this will help.
We’ve updated our roadmap to reflect these new priorities. The best place to interface with our roadmap is via individual milestones in our Lighthouse issue tracker:
…though we’ve updated the popcorn roadmap etherpad for quick digestion.
It also worth looking at how these new priorities are being translated into UX changes in the app - here is Kate’s most recent summary.
This post is the first of many on this subject - and is meant to start conversations. Please leave some comments, and thanks for bearing with me!
I just noticed something strange on Wikipedia. It appears that gradually, over time, editors have begun the process of moving women, one by one,...”
- Webmaker in 2013: Collaborative Tools - Popcorn Maker
Yesterday, Jess Klein and I demonstrated the power of modern web technology as a...
- OpenNews: Why Develop in the Newsroom?
As the deadline to apply to become a 2013 Knight-Mozilla Fellow approaches, there’s one question...
- OpenNews: Four Weeks to Apply for the 2013 Fellowship!
In four short weeks, the opportunity to apply to become a 2012/13 Knight-Mozilla...
- bizVizz1. What do you propose to do? [20 words]
Mobile app enabling people to photograph a logo or enter a company’s name to instantly access tax...
- Behind the Scenes: Lego Antikythera Mechanism
This is a 2000-year-old analog computing device reconstructed out of Lego. It predicts solar...