This post was written by Miranda Mulligan, executive director of the Knight News Innovation Lab, and originally appeared on the the Knight Lab blog.

A significant portion of the Knight Lab team was fortunate enough to join the Mozilla Festival in London, November 9-12. This incredible event, hosted by the Mozilla Foundation, is in its third year and intends to motivate an entire generation of web makers. As far as we can tell, they are doing this job well.

In fact, during the Sunday morning keynote, Mozilla’s executive director, Mark Surman, shared an anecdote that an attendee had likened #MozFest to #SXSWi in its early years. The energy inside Ravensbourne last weekend was magical.

Over the weekend, the team participated in a bunch of sessions. Shawn O’Banion, Larry Birnbaum and Scott Bradley even led a fireside chat. My inner news nerd leapt at the opportunity to completely immerse myself in some deep-think on election-related news apps and tools, something that I have been missing since my departing the daily news cycle about six months ago.

Northwestern senior Katie Zhu wrote up a fantastic post about her multi-year experience with Mozilla’s OpenNews initiative and community, which began as “MoJo” (Mozilla + journalism), the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership‘s inaugural year in 2011. Zhu takes a moment to reflect on last year’s #hacktoberfest and shares a few thoughts on how the program has evolved. Definitely worth a quick read.

the mozfest maker mantra

Do you identify as a “words person” and find all of this web-making intimidating? Ryan Graff felt the same way. However, in his reflection on #MozFest’s Maker Mantra, he notes: “But by the end of my first session, I was sold on MozFest’s participation approach and not nearly as nervous about my ability to contribute.”

Our resident project manager and event planner, Jordan Young, found the Jumping between Hacks and Hackers Communities to be informative and helpful since she’s been struggling with “getting Chicagoans in consistent enough attendance to build a community.”

In the journalism track, there was a significant focus on data-journalism, and we all tried to sit through the sessions. Thankfully, for our blog, Dan Hill quickly recapped a couple sessions that focused on data while Sarah Adler wrote up a deeper focus on the “Data Expeditions: Scout the Data Landscape with our Data Sherpas” session.

Hilary Fung attended a “Science and the Web” session that reminded her of the value of notes, collaboration and building on what others have created: “The talk reminded me how valuable one person’s well-documented work can be for another person’s new idea,” she wrote.

Finally, our own TimelineJS maker, Zach Wise, came along for the ride. Wise was an absolute joy as a travel companion and significant voice in the weekend festival’s discussions. He created a timelapse of a bus tour part of the team took on Friday, and he created a Flickr group that gives you quick visual recap of our trip. We had a phenomenal trip, and we join Joe Germuska and his thankful sentiment.

We’ve already begun our plans to participate in MozFest 2013.

Miranda Mulligan, executive director, joined the Lab in late July 2012. Formerly the Design Director for Digital at The Boston Globe, she has been focusing most of her attention on the intersection of journalism and technology for the past couple years. She is a journalist, designer, and educator with over 10 years of experience in print and web design, photography, multimedia, and information graphics reporting. In 2011, Mulligan led the responsive web design approach to The Boston Globe’s new site – BostonGlobe.com – a design and development practice that allows content to be where users are, no matter their device, taking full advantage of the most popular APP on any device: the web browser. She has also worked for The Virginian-Pilot, interned with The South Florida Sun-Sentinel and The Philadelphia Inquirer, and volunteers her time with Mozilla’s OpenNews, Society for News Design, Online News Association, and local Hacks / Hackers chapters.

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Established in 2011 with a $4.2 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Knight News Innovation Lab is a joint initiative of Northwestern University’s Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Medill School of Journalism. In partnerships built across the Chicagoland region — from neighborhood bloggers to large media companies — the Lab invents, improves and distributes technology that help build and sustain a better informed citizenry and a more innovative publishing environment.