When I first joined Mozilla I was blown away by its mix of poetry and pragmatism.
Mozilla started with a very basic question: How can we create a web that is more open? In answer to that question we witnessed the growth of a global community of Mozillians around the world who have an ingrained instinct to roll up their sleeves, learn from and teach each other, and build the solution to a problem.
The Mozilla community fundamentally understands that in order to affect change, people need to be makers, not just consumers.
After all, it’s this instinct to teach and build that enabled us to develop Firefox: 10 paid staff and a global army of volunteers contributed to the creation of a browser that beat out the biggest software company in the world. And we didn’t just build a better browser — we demonstrated the power of teaching. Millions of us installed Firefox on our friends’ and families’ computers—and explained what Mozilla stood for as we did this.
Fifteen years later, the world faces different problems.
In this new, post-Snowden era, it feels like everyone is talking about — and craving — a more open and trustworthy internet. The world has a better understanding of how people are being tracked online, and of the delicate balance between privacy and a world where we are all constantly connected. We live our lives online, and store everything in the cloud, yet our lives depend on technology and networks that too few users really understand.
And so, as Mozilla, we strive to answer the same fundamental questions that guided us at the beginning: how, today, can we strengthen an internet that is open and trustworthy? What is the next set of tools to enable people to protect their privacy? How best can we teach everyone basic web literacy skills like how to secure their information? Should we use our influence to ensure government and corporate policies help make the web more open and trustworthy? How do we do this work at scale, recognizing that billions of people will soon be online?
We’re trying to answer these questions in a number of ways, but we can’t do it alone. That’s why we are thrilled to join foces with the Knight Foundation and Ford Foundation on this year’s Knight News Challenge, which will fund $2.75M in grants to find and support great ideas.
In part, this new Knight Challenge aims to fund the technology, education programs and campaigns that will begin to satisfy the craving we have for a more open and trustworthy web. But, it also aims to spark a conversation around how to shape the next era of the web – an era where openness, security and innovation regain their status as elevated principles.
Mozillians bring our very practical ‘roll up our sleeves and build the future as we want to see it’ ethic and that is exactly what we need now. We’re the right ones to figure out how we can best leverage the mechanics, culture and citizenship of the web to keep it open.
So, let’s all commit to help out and participate in The Knight News Challenge. I’d love to see as many people as possible from the broader Mozilla community submit ideas for tech and propose new education programs.
Along with Knight and Ford, Mozilla is trying to build a wave of people creating the web we want. Let’s help start that wave.
This posting is also on the Knight Foundation blog.