Archive for June 1st, 2007

UN Technical Agency Honors Mozilla

June 1st, 2007

Last week I traveled to the UN in Geneva to accept the International Telecommunication Union’s World Information Society Award on behalf of Mozilla.

The ITU is the United Nations agency specializing in information and technology. The ITU predates the UN considerably, having been formed in 1865 to harmonize telegraphy, and has a venerable history both before the UN and as the UN’s technology agency.

The World Information Society Award was inaugurated in 2006. The Award honors those who have “made a significant personal contribution to promoting, building, or strengthening a people-centered, development-oriented and knowledge-based information society.” In 2006, the Laureates were President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank, a leader in the microfinance movement which has changed the lives of so many.

The 2007 Laureates are Dr. Margarita Cedeño de Fernández, First Lady of the Dominican Republic, Professor Dr Mark I. Krivocheev, Chief Scientist of the Radio Research Institute in Moscow, and Mozilla. The awards ceremony was hosted and the awards presented by the Secretary General of the ITU, Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré.

This is an enormous honor. It is a very significant recognition of the work of the Mozilla project. I want to thank the ITU for selecting Mozilla and congratulate the Mozilla community for making such an impact in people’s online lives.

The award to Mozilla is the first award not made to an individual. Mozilla may be the first Laureate not already deeply involved with the UN. The award was granted based on Mozilla’s “outstanding contribution to the development of world-class Internet technologies and applications.” The award was technically made to the Mozilla Corporation, but I accepted it on behalf of the entire Mozilla community.

This is also an important step for open source and free software. Mozilla produces consumer-facing products and so can — and is — bringing recognition of free and open source software to ever more people. The Mozilla project has now been recognized by the ITU as a fundamental actor in promoting a people-centered Internet. This should help Mozilla deliver our message more effectively, and hopefully will help raise peoples’ comfort level with other free and open source software projects.

Each Laureate was invited to make a brief address to the hand-picked audience. I spoke about Mozilla’s goals of ensuring the sustainability of an open and participatory Internet. I noted we strive for this goal through very concrete means: building software and building communities of people who participate in the Internet. I emphasized that the ability to participate is critical. It’s great to have free software to use, but the ability to get involved when one wants or needs to is the fundamental next step. I also shared the belief that human creativity is widespread, not limited to any one population or economic group, and this drives our goal of developing many possibilities of participation in building and using the Internet.

The ITU has made available (in Real Player format) a recording of the award ceremony. If you want to see only the Mozilla part, the award presentation to Mozilla starts at about 39 minutes in, and my talk starts about an hour and 12 or 13 minutes into the recording. The ITU has also created a written excerpt of the talk.

This message was well received. The reception reinforced once again how important it is to articulate our beliefs and goals clearly. We have great products, but that’s not our big message. Our message is about why our products are great — how we build them, why we build them, and how Firefox is a part of a much bigger effort with other products and projects. And the overall goal is not product centered. It is Internet-centered and it is people-centered.

The Internet should have a facet to it that is people-centered, with multiple opportunities for decentralized participation. Mozilla is building that facet of the Internet — not alone, but as a leader.

Our accomplishments are for everyone to share; our success is for all to enjoy.

Skip past the sidebar