What is Mozilla Tunisia Tour?
Almost 3 weeks already since Clarista, Vivien, Mounir and I were warmly welcomed in Tunis for the launch of the Mozilla Tunisia Tour. Words are not enough to express correctly this experience, but I'll do my best anyways. I wish I could have blogged about this sooner, but I've been basically jumping from one event to the other since then (FOSDEM being the last one, which I'm also currently writing about in my upcoming blog post).
Mozilla Tunisia Tour is a series of events that take place over 6 months. Each month, the event deals with a specific topic. The goal is to share with as many people as possible Mozilla's unique universe, it's philosophy, software, and the importance of the Open Web.
This first edition's main topic was "The Spirit of Mobile". It was also the opportunity to present Mozilla in a general way, and to present the possible contributions the project has to offer, as well as the importance of diversity in free and open software projects and in Mozilla. The next day, we presented technical topics about Mobile technologies in Mozilla.
First Day: Mozilla and WoMoz
The first day kicked off with Melek's awesome presentation of the Mozilla Tunisia community and with the description of Mozilla Tunisia Tour (slides here). Melek is amongst the main organizers of this venue, and her help and commitment from the beginning to the end was just amazing.
Then Clarista, our talented star-contributor, bluffed us once more with her thorough Mozilla project presentation (you may find her slides here).
After a delicious Tunisian lunch, Clarista and I gave a talk about WoMen & Mozilla (WoMoz). We thought that women in free / open source software issues would be quite the same in Tunisia as in Europe or the US - if not worse. But to our surprise, things are quite the contrary there. For example, in IT and CS studies, there are as many women as men... if not more! And women don't quit their jobs or studies when the wish to form a family (as happens in Senegal for example, as Clarista highlighted): they quite happily continue pursuing their career. Clarista and I therefore engaged in a discussion with the audience, after having presented quickly why we had launched WoMoz and the issues we encountered in our country. We learned a lot from this discussion, and had many things to exchange with the people present. We tried to understand in what ways WoMoz could be useful in Tunisia, and even asked if they needed a MenMoz maybe instead But that idea did not stick (men present told us they didn't feel like they needed that...).
However the audience told us that in daily life, there are still sexism issues and that although within IT fields women are considered equal, this does not always apply when they are faced with people outside their field of expertise. WoMoz can therefore help in giving more visibility to women in FLOSS (and by extension, any other computer field), and to help them have the confidence they need in everyday life, so that the work they do is accepted amongst everyone (when I say "everyone", of course I know not literally "everyone" can accept that).
Another domain where WoMoz could help out is with women who do not live in big cities such as Tunis. There are many villages where women don't have the right to work. Or rather, they have the right to, but traditions and social pressure prevent them from doing so. These are often villages where the Internet is an unknown media, or hardly starting to develop. When talking to people from Tunis, we realized that there were actually very few big cities that were as "developed" (communication-wise) as Tunis. Mozilla Tunisia is in fact going to extend their tour to such places, in order to extend the knowledge and importance in education about the Internet, the Open Web and Mozilla. WoMoz has a lot to do there as well, by showing women that they can have access to computers at the same time as men, and that it is an important resource in education and emancipation. We hope that by doing this, women and men alike will get the same access at the same time, and that it will be considered a resource open to all alike.
We have many other things to think about on how we can help out here, and will continue getting in touch with Mozilla Tunisia in order to do this (clarista has written specifically about the WoMoz talk here in French. A translation will come soon, stay tuned![UPDATE] English translation here!)
You may find WoMoz presentation slides here.
I then gave a lightning talk about how to contribute to localization in Mozilla. I gave a step to step explanation on how to get started in localization, and gave some useful links and tips. The Mozilla Tunisia community and some people from the audience are eager to help localize, and we're keeping in touch in order to do this.
Second Day: Hands on Mobile!
Vivien and Mounir were the stars of this second day. They started out by giving a really cool presentation of Boot-to-Gecko, Mozilla's recent complete and standalone operating system for mobile. Seriously, I was captivated by their talk, even though I'm not really a technical person. But they know how to give a good talk and show how cool B2G is going to be.
(picture by clarista, CC BY-NC-SA)
After their talk, the audience split up into groups and the workshop started.
You could tell everyone was highly concentrated, but at the same time enthusiastic about what they were working on. The goal was for each group to come up with an mobile app that would work on the Boot-to-Gecko platform before the end of the day.
And the goal was achieved! At the end, the groups had come up - amongst other things - with: a calculator, a puzzle game, a unit converter, a multiple choice questionnaire... that all perfectly worked on the B2G platform! Everyone was really proud and motivated to continue. As always, the workshop method proved to be much more efficient than just giving a talk about something People get much more excited and ready to get involved that way.
I want to thank from the bottom of my heart Mozilla Tunisia for all they did. We were welcomed so warmly, and the departure was quite heart-breaking indeed! I was bluffed by the passion, eagerness, joy, fun and endless motivation this community has to offer. SERIOUSLY, YOU ROCK!!!
We also learned many things from this meeting, and it was a very humbling experience. I never imagined I would learn so much in so little time. We really need to keep this community going and increase our presence in Africa (not only French-speaking countries). And of course, we must continue helping these communities to grow and flourish.
Oh and just to finish this post, here's to give you an idea of some of the fun we had there :D (sorry, you'll need Facebook to see this...)
All pictures by Mozilla Tunisia, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), except when specified otherwise. And of course, don't take note of the dates appearing on the bottom of the pictures...