Drumbeat notes #1: core concept and framework

This is the first in a series of ‘notes’ posts about Drumbeat, mostly from conversations with Gunner, Mitchell, Bob, Jesse, Elizabeth and people I talked to at the cottage. It covers the bits of Drumbeat that are starting to feel more solid and includes a whiteboard doodle I did w/ Mitchell.

Drumbeat elements

1. The core concept of asking people to be ‘stewards of the open web, explaining and protecting the internet as a critical public asset‘ resonates pretty widely. Almost everyone I talk to thinks this is interesting and useful.

2. The goals that these millions of ‘stewards’ could pursue are becoming clearer. They are: a. raising awareness about the open web amongst friends, neighbours and peers; b. developing ideas and solutions to critical web issues in the future; and c. taking action to implement and evangelize these solutions. Still more work needed on these goals, but this is basically the drumbeat we want to start.

3. The ‘funnel framework’ I’d been using to explain Drumbeat isn’t working at all. It’s squishy and confusing to people. Mitchell and I pushed on this earlier in the week. We boiled the Drumbeat framework down to three connected and repeating elements (see diagram above). They are:

a. Small local events. Most of these would be existing events like Barcamps or campus clubs where Mozilla people (and others) start conversations or share skills related to key open web topics. Reaching out to these events could happen alongside other orgs that care about the open web such as Creative Commons. There could be 100s (or 1000s?) of these around the world every year.

b. Larger annual event. Each year, we would hold a bigger event on a major issue or trend confronting the web. Security. Identity. Mobile. It would draw people from our community, the web industry, academia and the many smaller events around the world. Output: whitepaper and other docs focusing the issue being discussed and suggesting possible products, consumer actions, etc.

c. Online community. This would be a place where people could express themselves on critical web issues (think ideastorm meets ‘what I love and hate about the web’), take action on ideas that come out of the year events (e.g. our current ‘internet health’ campaign) and, of course, organize and get materials to run local events.

Tomorrow or on the weekend, I am going to write up notes on bits of Drumbeat that feel less solid. Especially, what are ‘good’ specific topics and issues to tackle, and how do we determine these on an ongoing basis. A number of people have said this part is most squishy.


  1. Rolf replied on | Reply

    Hi Mark,

    I think your circle of online -> small events -> big event is exactly what “grassroots 2.0” should offer. I’d also add two lines of thought it evoked with me:

    • The circle seems to match with the pyramid (or ladder) of engagement thinking (aware -> care -> act -> lead), where the web offers easy ways to get involved, and the big annual event breeds leadership. “Recycling stewarship” around the concept of an “open web” definitely makes sense.

    • To take the renewable energy analogy into the nuclear: if it becomes a critical mass, it will have energy to spend. I’ve seen plenty of “stewards” burst into other groups, trying to convert people (often the converted) who are more concerned with the changes of power. How do I become a steward of “open” in my own community in a sense that unites, aligns my community with a common cause even if it’s not “core business”?

    A good example given by Arjen Kamphuis at HAR2009 was the reasoning of the IT folks in the Friends of the Earth network: if we feel that having fair trade coffee and biological products in our offices is essential to our mission, we should also choose fair trade technology and software.

    How to be a “pragmatic steward of the open web”? You can neither convert nor convince the “status quo structure of power”, you’ll either need to show how they stay in power, or start a revolution :-)

  2. gina replied on | Reply

    Online organizing is like dating. Eventually you have to meet in person if you want to consummate the relationship. Great stuff! Looking forward to your next iteration :)

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