For a while now, I have had this feeling: we need to get millions more people to actively love, protect and steward the open web to keep it vibrant over the long haul. Mozilla is in a good position to make this happen.
Most Mozillians I’ve talked to over the past year agree we need to get more people involved. But the ‘why’ and ‘how’ often seem squishy. What would a million more Mozillians do? How could they genuinely make the web better? What challenges does the web face that technology alone cannot resolve? These are tough questions.
The thing is: tough questions shouldn’t scare us. They should encourage us to dive right in.
With this in mind, I’ve started talking to people again about how we might engage the next million Mozillians. I summed up some of the thoughts I’ve gathered in a talk at OSCON2009 last Friday:
The two main messages I was trying to get across with this talk were:
- Mozilla and others have helped build an open, participatory web. It is a wonderful, amazing thing. However, technology alone may not be enough to preserve the web we’ve built. Everything from privacy and security to data portability in the cloud will represent serious challenges in the future.
- The millions of people who use Firefox could get involved in responding to these challenges. Mozilla is in a better position than ever to reach out to millions of loyal supporters to a) explain why an open web matters and b) invite them to participate actively in making the web better.
My feeling is that it’s time engage people in this way, and that we should take our first steps by touching on issues that are close to home. One small example: imagine a significant community marketing campaign on the importance of security and privacy to overall internet health. And then maybe a related ‘internet health audit’ campaign where new Mozilla community members mobilize to eliminate IE6, old plugins and other security risks on the computers of their friends and neighbors. Small tasks, but real participation and real benefits for the web.
Over the next few days, I want to flesh out this example and a few more. The opportunity here is huge and very long term. However, I believe we’ll only know whether and how to proceed by digging into some real and immediate examples.
In the meantime, I’m interested to hear: do others think this is as important as I do?