Wow! Phew! What’s Next?
These are a few of the words and feelings rushing through me right now as I sit in Hive NYC HQ—physically, digitally and mentally unpacking our first Summer Code Party event. It’s Saturday night and we just finished up at Down Town Community Television with Tumblr, Institute of Play, MOUSE Squad/Core youth and People’s Production House. Of course, we also were heavily featuring the Mozilla Webmaker tools and projects that our colleagues at Mozilla have been working on. It was thrilling and gratifying to see an estimated 150 teens, families, educators, university students and geeks of all stripes hacking, webmaking and networking.
The hive was abuzz with teens as the energy was high and activated.
The event was yet another adventure in the learning experience we call Hive Pop-Ups. Pop-Ups can quickly be described as free-flowing, interest-driven festivals where people and organizations highlight and share their tools, projects and ideas, with a diverse audience. The events take on a flow of their own. Pop-ups are parties with a mission, they are unpredictable, feature a mix of social butterflies/wall flowers and randoms and leave you charged, energized and sometimes tinged with a few regrets.
Hive NYC’s Leah wrapped it up best when she tweeted from the Hive NYC account:
Gr8 educator #mozparty debrief. Likes: teens, energy, interest-driven, stoked audience. Builds: mini-challenges to inspire, small share-outs
Like any party, even great planning can sometimes go awry! For today’s event, our challenges immediately revealed themselves. Despite rented mobile hotspots, we struggled with WIFI early and often, dealt with short set-up time and early arriving partiers and failed to establish a central broadcast channel to unite the learners and educators in the space. Also while we were able to throw out challenges to the room to respond to, they weren’t as thematically connected or as coordinated as in past Pop-ups. One of the essential challenges in creating a great Pop-up event is finding excellent ways to manage and surf the energy in the room, inspire attendees and to disperse the crowd towards learning stations with steeper climbs and higher learning curves. In the debrief at the end of the event, many of the facilitators brainstormed ways that projects could garner meaningful feedback and benefit from crowd-sourced ideas when builders felt stuck.
But enough with the woulda-shoulda-coulda! Here are my quick reflections on what I thought was awesome about today!
- We had an incredible turn-out from Hive NYC orgs: The Point, NYSCI, City Lore, Real Works, AMNH, Tribeca Film Institute, The Rubin Museum, The Bronx Museum, and Parson The New School for Design, ALL had educators and youth at the party joining their fellow networkers.
- Inventive responses to spotty Internet by participants. We had our “What is the Web to you” exquisite corpse mural, our Remix Facebook design session, Hive NYC T-Shirt Hack, a Decode the Code html Pictionary activity and the Gamekit Design-a-Sport challenge. Greg Trefry from Institute of Play had 15 participants in a back room inventing a sport that used balls, chairs, a moving dolly and the walls to design a sport—big shout-out for getting that together!
- How incredible the Webmaker tools are. From the X-Ray googles, to Thimble and Popcorn Maker. Today’s Summer Code Party cemented that these and other web apps to come will transform how we teach/learn and enact digital literacy.
- People’s Production House’s Pop Squad. The Pop Squad is a team of youth Popcorn Maker designers, filmakers, evangelists and facilitators. They bring a sense of fun, experimentation and levity to the events where we have worked together. I really think PPH is building a model for how youth can teach youth skills with seriousness, timely political tie-ins and fun.
- The image of whole families coming together to the event to spend a Saturday afternoon hacking and playing! One Pop-Up volunteer called these groups the “Swiss Family Robinson of the 21st Century!”
- Cohorts of teens from existing Hive orgs and projects using the Pop-Up as a way to continue to work on and develop their stuff. We saw Tribeca Film Institute youth continue to enhance a video on gun violence they are producing with web features via Popcorn Maker and many groups who use Tumblr their to deepen their skills and further trick out their blogs.
I would like to leave you with an example of what I think is the Mozilla Webmaker/Summer Code Party ethos and essence. One of our partiers, Daniela, spends her time making zines and building a coalition of other female Latino zine writers and designers to use the medium for empowerment, community-building and communication. She explained during her share-out that she came to the Summer Code Party Pop Up to finally learn enough about Tumblr and coding to turn her passion for this work into a blog so she could share it with a bigger audience. Here is what she was able to build this afternoon: Poc Zine Project. During the Pop-up she thanked us all for the opportunity to connect, learn and finally upgrade her skill set.
This is why we do it people—and we’re in it, to win it.