What makes the web better?
May 28, 2009 § 32 Comments
When we describe Mozilla, we often talk about the open web and ‘making the internet better‘. Phrases like these are critical to explaining our mission. However, they are also pretty fuzzy. They could mean many different things.
At a recent retreat, Mitchell took a shot at making the idea of a ‘better internet’ more concrete by sharing the following slide:
The idea was to look at what characteristics make up ‘better internet’ by contrasting them against things that make the internet worse. I found this approach super helpful, as did a bunch of others at the event. Daniel Einspanjer suggested that if we could tighten this list it would make a great tool for quickly explaining Mozilla (and good text for a business card). I agree.
With the aim of starting a conversation and refining this idea, I decided to riff on Mitchell’s slide at a talk I gave earlier this week. My version looked like this:
I kept most of the concepts that Mitchell had, spun a little bit to work with my own style and tone. I also added in ‘hackable’, which could also be ‘remixable’ or ‘bendable’ for people who don’t want to say ‘hack’. Whatever term you use, the ability to hack, bend and remix things to suit your own needs seems pretty important to innovation and vitality on the web.
What I like about lists like these is not only that they help us describe what Mozilla is and what we are trying to build. It’s also that they could give us a simple tool for testing particular ideas, projects and web sites. If we had version of this list that we all agreed on, we’d be able to ask things like: “Is that web site / software / organization making the internet better?” That would be a helpful thing to be able to do.
Here is the question I want to ask: What characteristics *do you think* are critical to making the web better? What three or four words would you use? What are the opposites of these words? What does this kind of list look like in your language? Brainstorming on this would help a ton with some of the Messaging Mozilla’s Mission stuff that is going on. It might also help Mozilla people make better business cards :).