2010 goals: hmmm, a broader public?

November 7, 2008 § 1 Comment

About 10 days ago, I posted the question ‘how can Mozilla engage a broader public around its values?’ I also asked this question to alot of people face to face. Mostly I got blank stares, which may mean I asked the question the wrong way. Or that it’s too abstract. Or just that people are busy.

I did get a very thoughtful response by email from the alwaysarticulate Glyn Moody. Here it is in full (with permission):

Marketing: The “Open Web” lies at much of what Mozilla is currently talking about. I don’t think enough has been done (a) to explain what it is (b) why it matters or (c) to promote it. Given that it’s a nice phrase, milk it: put together more info on what it means and why *end-users* should care. Devise a logo for it; set up some rules for who can use that logo (make it a desirable brand like “open source”, and use the community to police it – no teeth, but plenty of shaming). Then push that logo hard across the Web: where the logo goes, so does Mozilla and its ideals.

Technical: This flows from the Open Web stuff. Put your money where your mouth is, and get more involved in defining the Open Web through technical work. Get involved in standards bodies (no, not the ISO….), get involved in open source projects that impact on the Open Web. Help more projects *use* Mozilla code (OpenOffice.org strikes me as a prime candidate for both Firefox and Thunderbird – you can really help each other.)

Educational: Education not just in the metaphorical sense used above – telling people what the “Open Web” is, but really pushing into the educational system. I know you’re starting to do this, and I think that’s really good. One of the most annoying things is how deep Microsoft’s fangs are embedded in the body educational as far as Windows and Office are concerned: people grow up thinking they are computing, not just examples (and bad ones at that). The more Mozilla can get involved in spreading the word about what computing/coding is, the more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young coders you will have contributing.

Political: This one is harder, but potentially even more important. As Mozilla grows in stature, it can become an important voice talking to governments, especially when the latter are making stupid decisions about computer technology (i.e. nearly always). Call it soft lobbying: you’re not really asking for anything, but offering a lot. Create a post for someone to do this full-time (ideally several around the world in different jurisdictions). The more politic you can be in this – as in not rubbing their faces in their own stupidity – the better you will succeed. There is no respected source of info for governments that has no agenda (hello Microsoft/Google/IBM etc.). Once you have established your independence and usefulness, governments should be beating a path to your door.

I also got useful quick verbal hits from people like David Crow:

Focus on the ‘one web’ message. Help people see that applications that only work on one phone or one browser are a threat to their future enjoyment of the Internet.

… and Tomcat:

The message is that we make our software differently. We are a non-profit hybrid. We aren’t trying to make money. We’re trying to make the web open.

All of this is great food for thought. I’d like more. So, I am going to ask the question in some different ways over the coming weeks. I am also going post soon about a proposed 2010 goal for Mozilla Foundation that builds on this theme. In the meantime, feel free to comment or blog on how we engage a broader public w/ our values. It’s a question that matters.

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