September 6, 2012 § 6 Comments
People often ask: Where did Mozilla Webmaker come from? And, how does it fit into the big picture of Mozilla’s mission? There are loads of materials online that answer these questions. I figured I should create a ‘reading’ list for would be web makers that pulls together some of the main threads. Here it is.
This video is a great place to start. In 3 minutes, you get primer on how Mozilla used Firefox to keep the web alive and on where we are headed next with mobile and web literacy. The main take away: Mozilla is a global community of people creates compelling products and experiences that build openness into the internet. This is an important foundational idea to get. It’s how Mozilla thinks about itself.
While it could use an update, the Manifesto is still a solid foundation answering the question: what should Mozilla be working on right now? The Webmaker initiative has it’s roots in the principle that “… individuals must have the ability to shape their own experiences on the Internet.” This almost is impossible unless individuals have some basic literacy in how the web works and how to program it. That’s why Mozilla is making such a big bet on web literacy. The Manifesto also says that Mozilla should “build and deliver great consumer products that support [these] principles.” This is why we’re working so hard on Thimble, Popcorn and high quality remixable content: we believe compelling online creativity apps are powerful way to promote web literacy.
In September 2011, I started a series of blog postings outlining the basic web maker concept and asking for feedback. These posts argued that “… Mozilla has an opportunity to build the next generation of web makers.” They also set out the basic idea that we need both teach and build tools that encourage creativity, tinkering and invention on the web. These posts formed the touchstone for what we’re actually building in 2012. You can read them in order as a set or go back to ‘#nextbeat’ tag in my blog. While the #nextbeat version is confusing (you have to read from the bottom up as they are in reverse order), it’s also more interesting as it includes all the original comments and public discussion about the webmaker concept.
By the end of 2012, we’d agreed to put significant resources toward what is now called Mozilla Webmaker. Our top level goal was to “… roll Mozilla’s best software and learning resources into a simple ‘kit’ for web makers.” Practically, this meant building Hackasaurus, Popcorn, Hive, Open News and many other efforts we’d started under the Mozilla Drumbeat banner into a cohesive offering and brand. I posted an overview of our plans to do this in February 2012, including links to team-specific plans. There is also a wiki page with the top level Webmaker goals and objectives approved by the Mozilla Foundation board in December 2011. As I thought experiment, I recently did a July MoFo Goals Review. While we’ve still go work to do, we’re tracking well.
Now that we’re almost a year into the Webmaker conversation, I’ve been turning my mind back to the question: what’s the big picture strategy we need to keep the web open and vibrant? At the broadest level, I think the answer is a mix of products, literacy and public policy that bake the values of the Mozilla Manifesto into the web and into our expectations of how the web works. Mozilla’s three big projects right now — Firefox, Firefox OS and Webmaker — cover the product and literacy bases. We also need to find a way to shape policy, at least in cases where it threatens the web. I did a talk recently at Campus Party Europe that looks these things through a big picture lens. It’s rough and a bit long, but this talk is worth watching if you want to situate Mozilla Webmaker within the context of keeping the web open for the very long haul.
Of course, these five posts are just a primer. There are thousands of posts and reflections that people have written about the webmaker concept. And there is even more out there on the broader topic of web literacy. I’d be interested in hearing what other reading you find helpful or inspirational on this topic. If something comes to mind, please post a link as a comment below.
February 20, 2012 § 6 Comments
Want to know what we mean by web making? Or why you (and Mozilla) should care? Michelle Levesque and I did this 20 minute talk at last month’s Learning Without Frontiers conference to answer these questions:
One thing that’s worth pulling out of our slides is the definition of ‘web maker':
a web maker is anyone who makes things using the open ethos and building blocks of the web
I’ve been using this definition for many months now, but it often seems to fly past people. I want to underline it here as this web maker audience is central for all the learning programs Mozilla is developing this year.
If you want more info — or if wonder what I mean by the ‘open ethos and building blocks of the web’ — there are lots of old posts by Mitchell, myself and others that unpack this general topic. Here are a few:
- Describing Mozilla. (Mitchell)
- What makes the web better? (me)
- Describing the open web. (Mitchell)
- Open web definition for drumbeat.org. (me)
- Kids and the open web. (Atul)
PS. here is a PDF of the slides from the talk Michelle and I did. Can also send Keynote to anyone who wants to use these.
February 2, 2012 § 3 Comments
The Mozilla Japan team did a great job at branding at the recent Hive Tokyo Pop-up. In particular, they a) made a typical cafe look like a Mozilla space while also b) giving community projects a good way to explain themselves with hackable signs. It impressed me enough that I wanted to share.
The core asset was a poster-sized glossy foam core board with Mozilla branding around the edge and a big whiteboard space in the middle:
For people who don’t do events, this may seem like no big deal. But it’s huge. At something like a Mozilla Festival Science Fair, these posters let presenters tell their own story while still using a single brand to pull together the whole event. Here are a couple of signs from the event:
In addition to these poster boards, Mozilla Japan also did a good job of general signage and small elements that pulled the space together in a cohesive way. They even had small event signs to cover over the cafe’s own signage (didn’t get photo). A nice touch!
We should emulate some of this stuff for our community event spaces at Mozilla offices. I’m going to investigate building up a set of materials like this for the Toronto office at the start using generic Mozilla branding. We should also investigate for community events we do in cities around the world. We’ll probably also do some stuff like this for the Mozilla Science Fair at MacArthur’s DML conference in San Francisco.
October 31, 2010 § 5 Comments
Melissa Shapiro recently ran our team through a media training. She pushed us hard to come up with the three bullet Drumbeat elevator pitch. Here is what we came up with:
- Mozilla exists to make sure the internet stays open and awesome.
- With Drumbeat, we’re moving beyond Firefox to build more things that make the web better — not just software.
- We’re doing this by reaching out new kinds of people — teachers, filmmakers, lawyers, journalists. These people will play a key role in shaping the future of the web.
This is similar to what I presented at the Mozilla Summit in the summer, but much simpler and easier to repeat. So, I figured I should share it.
June 1, 2010 § 26 Comments
A common Drumbeat questions is ‘what do you mean by open web?‘ Having a solid answer is especially critical as reach out to teachers, lawyers, filmmakers and other people new to Mozilla.
Of course, there are many good answers. Nonetheless, we need a single, simple list of ‘open web ingredients’ to explain what we mean to people interested in Drumbeat. Here is what we thinking about using:
The open web is made up of four primary ingredients:
- Freedom: built with technology and content that anyone can study, use or improve.
- Participation: anyone can participate or innovate without asking permission from others.
- Decentralization: the architecture is distributed and control is shared by many parties.
- Generativity: we can make new ideas from old ones. As we use, we also hack and innovate.
Or, for short:
- Open web = freedom, participation, decentralization and generativity.
This definition is inspired in part by Mitchell Baker’s ‘better internet’ talk from about a year ago. It was also shaped by responses to Mozilla’s what is the open web? contest from earlier this year and by other attempts to define the open web.
One issue we bounced around on was whether to talk about transparency (we had that in earlier edits) or freedom (the ‘study’ element of software freedom covers ‘transparency’). The current version uses freedom both because of its breadth and because free software and content are clearly core building blocks of the open web. Could be too arcane for the Drumbeat audience?
Keep in mind: our goal is a working open web definition for drumbeat.org, not something canonical. It should speak to people who aren’t necessarily technical and suggest how they can shape the web. At the same time, it needs to be sound, encompassing the primary ingredients we believe make up the open web.
The plan is to put an expanded (and likely evolved) version of this definition up on drumbeat.org later this week. If people like it, maybe we can use it more broadly in other venues. Who knows.
Comments and suggested improvements welcome, as always.
May 26, 2010 § Leave a comment
Almost five months into 2010, key Drumbeat projects and the Drumbeat local event series are picking up speed. Web Made Movies, Universal Subtitles and P2PU Open Web Career Track have all released new material and gotten more people involved. And additional events have taken place in Toronto, Berlin, Sao Carlos and Florianapolis. We’re also making progress on our overall fundraising and engagement efforts — albeit slower than hoped.
One things that has been particularly good to see: our first efforts to push community support and donations to a Drumbeat project have started to show (modest) results. By actively promoting Universal Subtitles in late April, Drumbeat helped to surface 600 beta testers as well as other offers of support. We generated over 100 comments like this one:
“Hi, I don’t have any talent in computer. I’m just a common people who can speak Mandarin, Cantonese, English, Malay, and little Japanese. And maybe very little Spanish. Is there anything I can do to help?”
Of course, support like this isn’t an end itself — the real goal is to make sure Universal Subtitles succeeds in bringing open video translation to the web. But it’s still good to see that the Drumbeat concept of bringing new people to participate in projects that improve the web has at least some early traction.
As we go into the summer, we’ll need to make some decisions about where to push hardest on Drumbeat for the rest of the year. The current plan is to focus on a few key projects build up strong participation and impact — the ones mentioned above plus a few more based in Europe or Brasil. We also want to pick a handful of cities to really invest in where we can get a vibrant community going. Sao Paulo is one of these. Berlin may be another. Finally, we need to pick a theme for the 2010 Drumbeat Festival. The current thinking is something around education (‘learning, freedom and the web’).
My May Mozilla Foundation status update provides a detailed overview on all of this, with a special focus on where and how we should focus our resources for the rest of the year. Here it is:
This slidecast offers slightly shorter version of info presented at our most recent board meeting. I’ll continue to provide these updates every two months, following the board meeting schedule. Comments welcomed here on my blog or by email.
May 18, 2010 § 12 Comments
A few weeks back, I posted an updated Drumbeat description. People said it was good, but not good enough. We’ve pushed hard to come up with something better and crisper. These result is a simple set of key messages that explain Drumbeat and why it matters. We’ll use these to write site copy, update our slide decks and drive our upcoming social media campaign.
I’ve pulled the current version from the wiki and pasted below. It’s very close to final — we’re turning it into new web site copy as we speak. Feedback and tweaks welcome. As always, we’ll iterate.
Drumbeat is about keeping the web open.
- We’re building a movement. We want to keep the web open for the next 100 years.
- Where to start? Everyday web users making and doing things that help the open web.
- Drumbeat’s role: host projects and events that gather smart, creative people around big ideas.
We all benefit from the open web.
- It’s the most powerful communication tool in the history of humanity.
- The nervous system of trade, education, governance, activism, and play.
- Lets a single idea achieve global impact.
- All without needing someone else’s approval or permission.
- Open = ( Participatory +Transparent + Decentralized + Generative)
But we can’t take the freedom of the web for granted.
- There are many who would neuter or control the web we have built.
- Imagine an internet filled with devices you can’t tinker with and walled gardens.
- What’s at risk? Privacy. Access. The freedom to create and innovate.
We need to protect it. Improve it. Grow it.
- We helped keep the web open when 20,000 of us built Firefox.
- And we’ve been continuing that work ever since.
- It’s what we do. It’s all we do. And we’re known to do it well.
Drumbeat = your chance to keep the web open and free.
- A chance for the rest of us to get involved.
- A global community of smart, creative, everyday people who actually make and do things that attack problems, power big ideas, and build the open web.
- Who? Teachers. Lawyers. Artists. Bankers. Plumbers. Anyone who uses and loves the internet.
You can get involved online or face-to-face.
- We’ve planted a flag. A place to gather and collaborate.
- Start a project, or join one that’s already rolling.
- If your project gets traction, we’ll shout from the top of the mountain about it. We may even fund it.
- Go to an event in your city. Work on a project with neighbors, or just paint a picture of what you want the web to look like in 100 years.
- It’s all about lending your skills and creativity to the cause of the open web.
For those who are interested: the text above was very much fueled by community input. Major sources of input included comments my Drumbeat messaging post from a few weeks back plus a key messages thread in the Drumbeat newsgroup. Kudos go to Dharmishta Rood and Geoff MacDougall for pulling all these ideas together.