Drumbeat: turning a corner

October 31, 2009 § 5 Comments

Over the last two weeks, Drumbeat has been turning a corner — from open discussion about what’s possible to focused discussion on what to do first. A number of people have approached me to say: “great, but I am confused by what’s decided and what’s still changing.” This post is an attempt to clarify.


If you boil it down, the overall vision of Drumbeat is making sure the internet is still open, participatory 100 years from now. Big dream, but the right one. The basic framework we’ve been building around this vision is pretty fixed now:

  • Mission: explain, protect and improve the internet as a public resource.
  • Goals: drive awareness, ideas and action that create a better internet.
  • Approach: website and local events gather people actively involved in creating a better internet. Annual Drumbeat Festival as major convening point.

We’ve been sharing this framework widely for a couple of months now. While some quibble on words, most people like it. This is basically the stable 0.1 Drumbeat framework. It’s not going to change much in the short term. I’ve indicated this on the Drumbeat wiki framework page.

During the last two weeks, Drumbeat discussions have focused on: what to do during Drumbeat year one? While there is more flux here, there are some things we know we want to do:

  • Broad framing is around a ‘better internet’ — one that’s more open, participatory, decentralized generative.
  • Main task = gather people who are — or want to be — doing things to build a better internet. This becomes nucleus for Drumbeat, allowing things to get much bigger in long term.
  • Website and local events provide place for people to showcase ideas and get others involved in their projects. The most compelling ideas feed into the Drumbeat Festival.
  • Drumbeat Festival is convening point for this group. People show their work and work together. Like a drum circle.
  • Mozilla should help drive or even lead a few early projects. These help show what we mean by Drumbeat, attracting attention and people.

Up to here, the general plan is also reasonably solid. Not quite v0.1, but should be within a few weeks, at which point we’ll say ‘year one is rolling’. The elements most in flux are around the details inside this year one plan. Things like:

  • Defining the outer boundaries of ‘better internet’, at least for now. We’ve tried to do that here by using examples.
  • Developing a list of people and orgs already doing things to build a better internet. This list will help us populate the alpha Drumbeat website and make event invites.
  • Deciding on small projects Mozilla should take on itself as first steps? They will be modest, but need to be compelling and have impact.
  • Working out the specific approach and content for the Drumbeat web site and local events.

There is also a bit of continued discussion of basic terminology: better internet vs. open web vs. internet as public resource, etc. Personally, I think it’s time to set this aside. If we make any of these terms into household parlance, we’ll be a long way towards winning. And most people don’t see the distinctions we all do.

A number of people have asked: where they can help at this stage? What we need most is more names of people and orgs already working on better internet ideas, especially outside of North America. There is a page where you can add names to the wiki. Also, ideas and comments on the emerging website framework will help right now. There is a website sandbox page here. Of course, the best way to figure out how to help is to just jump into the Drumbeat discussion forum and introduce yourself.

PS. Sorry this is long winded. Based on comments from a number of quarters, I really needed to cover all this terrain in one post.

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