Drumbeat: what’s next?
September 2, 2010 § 17 Comments
We’re eight months into Drumbeat. We’ve built a bit of a brand. People are interested. They want to get involved. More importantly: new people have shown up. Educators. Filmmakers. Artists. Not Mozilla natives. These new people are doing interesting things. And their peers are noticing.
It’s is a good start. We have some momentum. There is potential. Which begs the question: now what?
One thing is clear: we need to turn interest into action and impact. With 2011 on the horizon, I’m asking: how do we best do this? What does Drumbeat do next?
I want to know what you think about this. As comment fodder, here are three + one things I think we should focus on as Drumbeat moves into 2011:
0. Narrow our focus. Pick grokkable, magnetic topics.
Drumbeat started with a very broad call to action: ‘help keep the open web open‘. This didn’t work as well as we’d hoped. Some people responded. Most just stared back blankly.
Recently (and somewhat by accident), we’ve shifted focus to more specific mashups of Mozilla’s mission and other people’s big ideas. Re-invent cinema using the open web. Use the culture of the web to transform education and learning. And so on.
These mash ups have been much more magnetic. People already excited about the big ideas in question have looked up and said: ah, the web people are interested. Cool. How can I join in?
No matter what else we decide to do, one of our next steps should be to consistently use these ‘somebody’s big idea + open web tech and culture’ combos to focus what we’re doing. On the flip side, we should (dramatically) turn down the volume of the generic ‘help the open web’ angle.
1. Follow through on what we’ve started. Amp up participation and impact.
During the last eight months, we’ve dug our teeth into some awesome and substantial projects — Web Made Movies, Mozilla / P2PU School of Web Craft, Universal Subtitles. And it’s possible we’ll start work on a couple more by year end.
Each of these projects has big dreams. They also have clear goals for the coming year. A web developer education program that is 10,000 learners strong. A bustling open video studio pumping out productions with leading directors from around the world. Grassroots subtitling taking hold on well known, globally important video sites. These are amongst the 2011 goals Drumbeat projects shared in Whistler.
One answer to ‘what’s next for Drumbeat?’ is ‘follow through and help these projects reach these goals’.
There are three primary ways we can do this. Help with the technology side of these projects (e.g. P2PU leveraging Labs’ open social tools). Build fundraising capacity by actually designing and running campaigns with the projects (we’re doing major campaigns this fall and into next year). And, bring more people and profile to the table (e.g. volunteer recruitment in mainstream Mozilla newsletters and more promotion on Mozilla sites).
Helping in these ways will drive participation and impact in the projects we’ve already started. This, for me, is the baseline of what Drumbeat should do next. If that’s all we did in 2011, would it be enough? Personally, I don’t think so.
2. Get get good at open innovation. Find and grow more promising ideas.
We’ve always seen Drumbeat as a way to get many good ideas on the table, and then to back the best. A decent number of people have responded to this aspect of what we’re doing — there are now over 220 projects on drumbeat.org.
We’ve highlighted and helped a handful of these projects in small ways. Promoting them in our newsletter. Setting up peer coaching on our community calls. But, overall, we haven’t yet figured out a good and sustainable way to help these projects evolve, expand and succeed.
What we need is a simple, systematic way to find and grow promising ideas. One approach: combine the Mozilla labs open innovation process with the ‘magnetic topic mashups’ described above. Pick a topic. Run an innovation challenge. Back the best ideas that come out of the challenge.
For example, we might run a challenge around the question: how can the culture and technology drive innovation in the world of journalism? The challenge process would get many ideas on the table, spark collaborations. We’d offer fellowships or grants to the ‘winners’ of the challenge.
If Jetpack for Learning was any indication, this approach is more likely to yield results than the general Drumbeat ‘propose a project that helps the web’ call to action we’ve been using so far. One of our priorities for 2011 should be to put this open innovation model centre stage, pick some awesome topics and see what we learn.
3. Spark people’s imagination. Make it easy for them to connect. Focus on (big) visibility.
While our existing projects are awesome and important, Drumbeat (and Mozilla as a whole) needs another side to it — a side that is lightweight, easy to engage and, well, sexy.
Why? Because part of our goal with Drumbeat is to spark people’s imaginations — to get millions of people excited about how the open web can liberate, empower and delight them.
If you look at this from a ‘what’s next?’ perspective, this is partly a matter of linking what we’re doing already to things people care about. Making Web Made Movies with well loved producers and artists. Connecting Universal Subtitles to widely known content brands. Showcasing robots, lasers and other shiny open tech toys at Drumbeat events. The good news: we’re working on all these things.
However, ‘sparking imaginations’ need not — and probably cannot — be completely tied up in the idea of Drumbeat projects and events. We should embrace anything we can dream up that delights and engages, and the connects people to Mozilla outside of their day to day experience of using our products.
Google showed how you can do this with it’s recent HTML5 Arcade Fire video. It was a lightweight, fun, internet-scale way to demo what HTML5 video can be. And people loved it.
We hope to do something similar with our upcoming Firefox 4 parks campaign with the World Wildlife Fund — using sexy demos to make the link between the forests of the amazon and the web ecosystem that Firefox helps sustain. We’ve got other ideas up our sleeves as well (including some involving cats!)
But, the fact of the matter is, Mozilla isn’t naturally good at this. We’re more often than not too earnest about the web. We need to develop or lighter sexier side. Especially if we want millions of people across the web to join and support our cause. In terms of Drumbeat next steps, this is a major area we need to work on.
These are early thoughts that need much shaping and refinement. I’m interested to know: Which sound right? Which sound exciting? Which sound unachievable? You’ve been watching Drumbeat unfold. Where do you think it should go next?
I’ve posted an etherpad version of this content for people to hack on. And you can also make comments below. I’ll feed whatever people post into a Mozilla board discussion mid-September. And, if there is alot of interesting changes, I’ll repost the full etherpad version here.
PS. I know this post is too long. Sorry about that. I really want to see how people react to the whole set of ideas here — so my attempts at chopping it into a bunch of smaller posts didn’t work.