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March 5, 2012 / Ben Simon

Moving forward with distributed events

Last week was a big one for moving our distributed organizing plan forward — in addition to really getting down to planning out our summer campaign/day of action, there was some fantastic progress on two fronts:

  • Figuring out what our basic, public-facing event offerings would be
  • Getting a “go to market” plan on an infrastructure that we’re satisfied will actually allow people to self-organize and affiliate within our learning tent

The first has already been ably treated by Michelle Levesque over here — I’ll let her tell you:

We identified a large number of event-types that we have experience with, and then narrowed it down to a set of three event types that we wanted to surface front-and-center.

These were:

1. Kitchen Table (official name pending 🙂 ). This is for parents who want to grab their daughter and 3 of their daughter’s friends. Or a 17-year-old who just wants to show some of her friends how to do something cool. Like all Mozilla events, the purpose of this is still to learn by making, but this is a relatively low-bar event: grab some people you already know, and gather together to play with building some stuff on the web. We’re going to package some example curriculum with this event, but this can really be about anything when it comes to webmaking.

2. Hackjam. A group of people (who you might not already know) gather together in a public space to learn and build things together. This is probably what most people think of when they think of maker-style events.

3. Pop-up. Sort of like a science fair. Bring local groups together to and invite people to come play and make with technology. Expose people to what local organizations are offering around webmaking, and sort of sample a lot of different things.

And for the second, we’ve mapped out basic user stories and the feature sets we’ll need to support them (looks a lot like those initially specked out here and here) — and through some awesome Jess Klein design magic, we’ve got some mockups for two pages: the basic /events page where you can find out about our basic offerings and plug in to any use case you want, and the event search page. Both have a pretty awesome look and feel that stands apart from anything I can recall seeing — I’m very excited to see them in action.

Here’s the main page mockup:

Event Site Mock Up

And here’s the event search mockup:

Event Map Mockup

So how are we getting there? Well, one big question — the platform we’re planning to use — has been resolved for now.

It turns out that Blue State Digital — which we already use for much of our online organizing — is actually much more localizable than we’d thought. While there are definitely some features we’d like which are not supported — most notably a real ability for event organizers to run effective campaigns/efforts of their own through our tools over the long run, as opposed to simply doing one-off events —  it gets us far closer to all of our needed features than anything else that’s possible within a reasonable timeline.

So, that leaves us with what we want to build. Our goal is to launch by May 1st (in time to launch with enough time to have our day of Action in June while still providing enough lead time to hosts) with a site that supports the following uses/flows:

Event Site Uses Supported in Phase 1:
Find Event: 
1) See on Front Page –> Click through –> Know what the event is from description –> RSVP (can msg hosts) –> Share
2) Search based on type/geography –> View results by Date/Distance –> Pick event –> Know what the event is from description –> RSVP (can msg hosts) –> Share
  • Desired additional feature: Search event based on keyword in description
Create Event:
Learn about event types –> Pick Type –> Fill in details –> Publish –> Recruit
  • Agenda & Curriculum design can either happen at “learn about event types” stage or after publishing
  • Desired additional feature: duplicate past events & address all previous attendees of your events at once
Import Event that already exists elsewhere (Meetup, Eventbrite, Lanyrd, etc.):
External event exists –> Provide us with url, event type, date/time, location, description, your email –> Event is published to our calendar
Report Back (attend):
Receive email from Mozilla (or event host) –> Fill out feedback form & share on gallery –> Prompt to host/attend something else in future
Report back (host): 
Receive email from Mozilla –> Fill out feedback form &  share on gallery –> Prompt to host/attend something else in future
And here’s the task list we think we have before we get there:
  • Agenda & Curriculum maker
  • Logistical How-To’s
  • External event importer (Web Dev)
  • /Events pages coding/design (Dev + Design + BS + MT) – 1-2 Months
    • Front page (mockup by Jess already done)
    • Participate
    • Create
    • Resources (how-to’s)
    • Event types (displaying info about event types & linking to agenda/curriculum maker)
  • BSD Skinning/Integration
    • Activate Event Module
    • Event creation user path
    • Event discovery user path
    • Localizations
    • Report back
  • Legal, privacy, and security reviews

The biggest piece that’s missing from this setup is groups. We haven’t forgotten about ’em — personally, I think they’re really crucial to enabling actual self-organizing — but they’re now slightly decoupled from this process. That’s partly because they simply aren’t a necessary piece of a platform like this so it doesn’t make sense to treat them as a roadblock — in fact, there’s no real reason to think of them as a “part” of events; they should really be their own thing. It’s also because groups here will definitely need to plug in pretty tightly with whatever educator community site we wind up putting together.

But, to make sure they don’t get lost, the basic needed functions on groups are:

Join group:
Search based on keyword or geography –> Read description of group –> Join –> Communicate with those in the group
Create group:
Define based on keywords and/or geography –> Have potential members find it easily –> Communicate with those who join
So — onward to make it happen! As always, thought/comments/concerns/insults/plaudits are very welcome.


Leave a Comment
  1. Ben Moskowitz / Mar 5 2012 5:42 pm

    i mentioned this to michelle, too—the events page mockup is freakin’ beautiful.

    • Ben Simon / Mar 5 2012 5:45 pm

      Thanks. Credit basically entirely to Jess for the designs — we were largely inspired by a combination of Tupperware & Ikea, with some & Obama thrown in on the event search page.

  2. Jess Klein / Mar 5 2012 6:41 pm

    Thanks Bens – yeah although Tupperware was a new found inspiration for me- I have to admit, I love the way that all of those orgs do storytelling. I wrote a bit about the role of storytelling in these mockups here:


  1. More on the kitchen table summer campaign « Engaging Openly
  2. What’s notable about the new webmaker events platform « Engaging Openly

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