Plans are coming together for Mozilla’s Maker Party 2013. And I’m getting excited. Last year’s party had people making things on the web at 700 local events in 80 countries. This year it’ll be bigger. But, more important, I think this year will plant the foundations for something that lasts well beyond the campaign: a movement of people who want to teach 10s of millions of people how the web works.
Mozilla has built this kind of movement before: when we first launched Firefox. Many people just downloaded Firefox 1.0 because it was great. But others became on-the-ground evangelists and promoters. They told their friends about Firefox. They installed it on other people’s computers. They showed them how to use bookmarks, and pop-up blockers and add-ons. And, over 10,000 of them of them put up money to tell the world about Firefox in a historic two-page Sunday New York Times ad.
In my view, the mentors and local champions who will step up to organize the Mozilla Maker Party are just like the early enthusiasts who helped Firefox get to 500 million users. It’s these people who will show the first million Webmakers what they can make. Who will start awarding badges that reward people for their skill and creativity on the web. And who will create excitement about all the tools and programs across the web the empower people to make and create. These mentors and local champions are the core leaders that Mozilla needs if we want to teach the world the web.
Building on last year’s successful Summer Code Party, Maker Party 2013 has a number of pieces designed specifically to help mentors and local champions succeed. Five that I’m really excited about are:
1. Teach the Web: a nine-week free and open online course for people who want to be Mozilla mentors and local champions. It’s highly collaborative, convening nearly 3,000 participants to share their teaching practice, learning materials and learn to hack the web on the way. The course started last week, but you can still sign up here www.webmaker.org/teach
2. Super mentors: these are the passionate volunteers who really make the online course and marquee Maker Parties happen. They are experienced in teaching the web, running events and creating teaching materials. Starting with their work on Teach the Web, the Super Mentors are the leadership core of the larger Webmaker Mentor community. We already have over 100 super mentors. We hope to have many more by the time Maker Party 2013 is done.
3. A big tent with more than 40 partner organizations joining the Maker Party and carrying out making-and-learning activities across the globe. Like Mozilla, these organizations are part of a growing movement to teach the web and promote the maker spirit with hands-on learning. This network of partners is critical to growing this movement: there is no way any one organization can do this on its own. Mentors can bring their own organizations into this tent as a way to get publicity and recognition, or just as a way to be part of the party.
4. Hackable Activity Kits: simple ‘instructables’ that you can use show people how to make web pages, Popcorn videos, etc. The guides are hackable, forkable HTML pages so you can customize them. OpenMatt explains these kits well in this post.
5. An improved webmaker.org: We’re launching some new features on webmaker.org June 15 to designed for making and learning on the web. Not only have these tools have been designed with mentors in mind, we’ll also be taking mentor feedback and improving them on a constant basis.
While the Maker Party campaign runs from June to September, Mozilla’s hope is to build a lasting network of people around the world who want to teach people how the web works. In September, we’ll be inviting mentors and local organizers to stay involved in Webmaker. This will include invites to MozFest 2013 in London this October, opportunities for continued online mentoring and local organizing and a chance to help shape where we take the Webmaker mentor program in 2014+. In many ways, Maker Party is a kick off for these lasting activities.
If you are someone who wants to teach the world how the web works — or even just show a few people how to get more creative online — you should get involved. You can start by joining the Teach the Web course or just signing up for Maker Party 2013 updates. Also, start thinking about what you might want to do in your town or city in the coming months. Getting people excited about the web is actually pretty easy. And fun.