‘More than ever, the movement for a healthy Internet needs a place to convene, organise and act,’ says Mark Surman, founder and director of MozFest, a festival that aims to “fix what’s ailing the internet”.’
The gathering, to take place October 27–29 at Ravensbourne College in London, will bring together more than 2,000 artists, activists, hackers and makers from 50 countries to explore solutions for internet health.
From hands-on art installations, workshops, and presentations, ‘our aim is to popularise the idea of “internet health” – similar to how environmentalists engaged the public with the term “global warming”,’ says Surman.
‘I think as more people see that internet health has real-world outcomes – as bank accounts gets hacked or people’s Instagram pictures get used by fake news accounts, the idea of “internet health” will feel different and the public will start to pay more attention. But it’s impossible to imagine the situation getting better without individuals, governments and private enterprise all working together.’
Main stage speakers will deliver 20 minute TED-style talks throughout the festival weekend. Speakers will include Nighat Dad, hailed by The Guardian as “the woman fighting cyber abuse” in Pakistan; civic hacker and Taiwanese Digital Minister Audrey Tang, known for revitalising open source communities such as Perl and Haskell; Mishi Choudhary, a leading advocate raising concerns about India’s biometric collection; and Emily Gorcenski, a Charlottesville, Virginia-based anti-fascist activist credited for monitoring online chatter in advance of the Unite the Right Rally.
‘MozFest is lot of fun, but it’s also an intellectual powerhouse of people concerned about these issues,’ says Surman.
In addition to talks, artists from around the world will bring internet health issues to life through interactive art installations. China’s An Xiao Mina will address web literacy, Italy’s Paolo Cirio is taking on privacy and security, German-Australian Gretta Louw will reflect on openness and South Africa’s Brooklyn Pakathi will advocate for digital inclusion.
The festival will also feature a bazaar to try out projects that were hatched at previous MozFests, including EveryPolitician, the world’s richest open dataset on every national legislature in the world, and open source hardware that provides high-speed internet at a fraction of the normal cost.
‘London is a great backdrop against which to do this sort of event, because it’s a city of contrasts,’ says Surman. ‘It’s got all of the innovation, and then its got the most CCTV cameras in the world – its got the beauty of the digital world and the power of digital innovation and the horror of a surveillance society.’