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I wanted a lazy Sunday, but Cotton’s daddy wanted to drag me to the Mozilla Festival. Not interested. Then he told me there would be around-the-clock flat white, I was sold.

Fitting In

Then the first problem came about. What do people wear at MozFest? I have no tech related clothes! Or, more correctly, what is tech related wardrobe?! In the end, I opted for smart casual. You can never go wrong wearing all black, right? Well, the all black ended up being the best choice I made, offering a blank canvas to stick all the stickers on myself.

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This is the first time I have been to a congress of technology. Previously all the conferences I have been to were biology related, which can be quite serious. I did have my worry whether people there were able to spot that I was an impostor. It turns out, no one even gave me a second look. People seemed to be very comfortable with who they are. I spotted a guy wearing a T-shirt with Doge on it, and another guy with Mickey mouse shirt. Then there were girls, who looked as if they popped out from the fashion magazine. In short, everyone was just different. It was later I found out that the true nature of Mozilla is to celebrate openness, sharing, and each individual’s differences; the aim was to provide a friendly environment for people to exchange ideas. It is a community built by the community, shaped by the community and curated by the community.  To me, it was a very novel concept. I work in an area, more often than not, competitive, confidential, and fierce.

 

VR

It was at this event, I further learned more about virtual reality (VR), which I first wrote about in my previous post on Google Cardboard. My ideas of VR only extended to using it as a gaming gear, movie with better experience and the possibility of using VR in education. Then I was introduced the idea of using VR in the context of journalism, that if there is no limit on the technology, we could recreate conflict zones so people can fully empathise with victims of riots and war. This is truly an idea of using modern technology for humanitarian initiatives.

 

Then there was the idea of VR painting. I painted a rabbit, the video of it is somewhere on the web. Of course, like I always have said there is still some distance between reality and fantasy. The current VR technology is still not mature enough to do these things. Then there is the problem of any potential medical conditions VR might cause. VR is very taxing on the human brain, we do not yet know the consequences of wearing VR headset for prolonged period. Also, the question of what the effect of VR be on a developing brain (i.e children). However, on the optimistic side, if we dare to imagine, sooner or later, we will actualise our fantasies.

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Snowball

Then I learned more about Snowball, a free plugin on wordpress that would help bloggers or journalists to produce professional looking web page. It was very easy to use, and offers the ease of integrating videos, social media and parallax images. I will definitely use it, after I am sure that it is compatible with the my version of wordpress. Additionally, I really advocate bloggers to move to wordpress, it offers so much flexibility and power,

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Bottom up

MozFest also had a youth zone, offering children a chance to learn more about the sharing community. Age has caught up with me, I finally realise that I am not as quick and as receptive in learning new things. I finally understand why using computer was so easy for me, but hard for my parents. Here, the kids were able to code using Scratch and command robots to move in certain ways, for me it was just an area I never dared to venture into. I don’t think we become more stupid as we age, but more that our attitudes have changed. As we get older, we become so comfortable with what we use day-to-day, reluctant to new changes. We become more conservative, and less risk taking. This is also why, it is sometimes hard to persuade top professors to adopt new technology and techniques for research. Well, we have to do the bottom up approach. The young generation is the future, so it is important to allow young children to adopt positive initiatives (i.e openness and sharing), and learn technology. I am hopeful, sooner or later, the sharing attitude of Mozilla will travel upwards in the hierarchy.

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Conclusion

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It turned out, I loved it, not just for the coffee. People were all very friendly. I quickly shook off my impostor syndrome and felt at home. I felt safe in acting as my normal self, being almost child-like sticking stickers all over my legs. Although I knew nothing about coding, people accepted that, and showed me their work in a way I could understand. I was also quite proud, that I, in fact, added values to the meeting by stating the huge gap between the informatic world and pure biological world, and inputted how biomedicine could be changed to be more open and sharing.  In my opinion, our world would not progress, unless people learn to work collaboratively and synergistically, rather than always trying to get ahead of each other. Meanwhile, I started to appreciate how much open source is available out there. It is almost like I opened up a Pandora’s box, but instead of popping out monsters, I discovered a whole new field of resources. It was an event that truly opened up my eyes, realising that it is important to think laterally as well as vertically. I joked to Cotton’s Daddy, perhaps, we are waiting to have a second Renaissance. I am excited what the world beholds.

Of course, having unlimited supply of flat whites also added extra enjoyment for me. First time, I had a flat white made with oat milk.

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MozFest: nerdification in progress…
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