MozFest Recap

In late October, the Grant for the Web program team was honoured to participate in the 10th anniversary of MozFest, the world's leading festival for the open Internet movement.

MozFest marked our most in-depth engagement with community members to date. Over the course of five days we held multiple workshops and hosted an indie games arcade, all with the goal of explaining the grant and showcasing some of the existing use-cases for content monetization based on open standards and protocols. We spent hours talking to creators, publishers, technologists, and folks from local governments and foundations, about what less-invasive business models on the web could mean for them and their audiences. So much of what we learned will shape the five-year Grant for the Web program, and we’re immensely grateful for everyone that shared their experience with us.

Grant for the Web drawing by Scriberia is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Designing Grant for the Web

We kicked off the week with a four-hour workshop at MozFest House dedicated to understanding why the current state of the web is broken for creators. We heard things like “distribution channels are dominated by big players,” “micropayments don’t generate a livable wage,” and “licensing models are outdated.” We also identified bright spots by asking who’s thriving, and where? We learned that creators feel empowered thanks to tools like Shopify and Creative Commons licenses, which let them control how their content is valued and shared. This workshop culminated in an ecosystem-mapping exercise that surfaced important context for us to keep in mind when creating the grant’s initial call(s) for proposals. Participants reminded us how geography, class, ethnicity, currencies, and language must be top of mind as we consider inclusive outreach to specific groups of content creators.

Just some of the many, many ideas generated at the workshop

Web-Monetized Indie Games Arcade

Envisioning new business models for the web can sometimes feel abstract, so with the help of  games designer Andrzej Mazur, we created an indie games arcade to demonstrate some of the existing technology based on the Web Monetization standard and Interledger Protocol. Guests could play a selection of indie games, monetized with Coil, while watching micro-payments streaming to the games’ creator. For many, seeing this in action was an aha moment, demonstrating a viable alternative baked right into the web browser, to annoying ads and subscription paywalls. The arcade’s neon lights and an Occulus headset lured people of all ages into our space and we had many lively and illuminating conversations, all while trying to beat each other’s high scores in Flood Escape. Play the arcade games here!

Our indie games arcade at MozFest

Q&A and Brainstorming with early-adopter content creators

The current reality for content creators on the web is grim: making a living through one’s music, writing, design, journalism, code, or games is next to impossible for most, and the few that do manage to generate revenue must often resort to ads and charging for subscriptions – solutions that can be unfriendly to audiences. We wanted to hear from people who dedicate vast amounts of their creative energy and time to publishing on the web. People like blogger/podcaster/technologist and start-up founder Crystal Beasley, and game developer Andrzej Mazur. In what ended up being a packed MozFest session, they shared their experiences as creators, along with Adrian Hope-Bailie who spoke about the value of open standards and protocols powering new business models for the web. Breakout groups followed, and participants were able to give direct suggestions to the program team on how Grant for the Web could best spur innovation in a better, privacy-centric model for web monetization.

Breakout groups at the MozFest Grant for the Web session (Photo by Connor Ballard-Pateman)


Through conversations with many different people from many kinds of backgrounds, we learned a lot that we can incorporate into the design of the Grant for the Web program and the initial calls for proposals. Some of our favourite recommendations include:

  • Have clear basic criteria
  • Provide help for non-technical folks
  • Ensure diversity in grantees
  • Incorporate different payment models
  • Use the grant to take risks
  • Don’t duplicate, collaborate!

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