A scouting movement for the web

I’ve been thinking about ‘a scouting movement for the web’ for a while: a practical movement focused on skills, creativity and the internet. I finally got around to doing a talk on this idea at last week’s TEDx Seneca. Here is a video of the talk:


The talk starts with a question: what was the most important social innovation that scouting gave to the world? Answer: civilian camping. Before Baden Powell, only the army camped. Camping was strictly for professionals.

A century later, camping is a mainstream amateur activity. Powell met his ultimate goal: he skilled up millions of urban young people as a way to connect them back nature. But he also turned whole generations of people into joyful campers and stewards of the environment.

Imagine if we could do the same with coding and the web? A 100 years from now, we could have a world where making and coding online are a mainstream amateur activity. There would still be professional coders, of course. There always will be. But a huge number of the people making apps, tinkering with robots and writing code would be doing it for the joy of it. Or as a part some other vocation. Or, because they simply wanted to help take care of the web.

There are many practical and immediate reasons to want to teach web making. Skills and jobs and so on. But encouraging creativity and stewardship of the web are equally important. Scouting shows us that building a movement around ideas like this — and teaching a particular skill and technology to whole generations — is very much within the realm of the possible.

PS. Phillip Toronne wrote a piece in Make Magazine on Scouting 2.0. Some good and related thoughts in there.


  1. Goofy replied on | Reply
  2. CaptainCalliope replied on | Reply

    The first thing that comes to mind is that ‘scouting’ involves a certain spirit of exploration into the unknown. Innovation around this theme gave us the infrastructure and rituals that enabled civilian camping to emerge.

    Infrastructure and rituals.. Seems like the start of great framework for evaluating wins (and epic wins) in Webmaker programming.

    The second thing that comes to mind is Apigee(http://apigee.com/). They are creating some compelling products that help developers learn how to develop apps that are for and of the web instead of arbitrarily walled gardens. Their focus is on the enterprise however.. not the individual, ‘casual’ webmaker.

    I think Infrastructure at the intersection of personal data ownership initiatives and toolkits for hypermedia literacy (like apigee and the webmaker app) are the sweet spot for Webmaker programming to create some compelling rituals and social experiences to fire up this movement.

  3. Cathy Davidson (@CathyNDavidson) replied on | Reply

    This is a brilliant, clear, simple, direct, and powerful discussion of why we all need to be working to keep/make/remake the open web!

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