The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a nonprofit organization that defends consumer and citizens’ rights in the digital world, primarily through the judicial system. Each year the EFF presents its Pioneer Awards, recognizing “individuals and organizations that have made significant and influential contributions to the development of computer-mediated communications and to the empowerment of individuals in using computers and the Internet.”
The award ceremony was last Tuesday at the O’Reilly ETech conference in San Diego, California. There was a brief introduction for each award winner. John Perry Barlow, one of the original co-founders of the EFF, introduced Mozilla. He spoke about the significance of the name — the Electronic Frontier. He said they choose this name believing that there will be a frontier in the digital world for a long time to come. He also said that the Pioneer Awards reflect the ongoing presence of a frontier and its pioneers. There are vast new territories before us — unknown, wildly exciting and yet potentially dangerous. The future of the electronic frontier is unclear, we are defining its character as we go along. And thus, the pioneers today are no less pioneers than those of 20 years ago.
This is of course great to hear. It’s personally satisfying, but it’s also a perfect lead-in to talk about Mozilla. Each recipient was asked to speak for about 5 minutes (or, more precisely, “more than one minute, less than 20 minutes, and somewhere between 3 and 7 minutes.”) John’s introduction let me jump right into what makes Mozilla work. Mostly I talked about how at Mozilla we know there are pioneers, because we see them every day. We have massive numbers of people working to build an Internet that has civic and social value — as well as personal economic gain — built into its fabric. I noted that we focus on interoperability, transparency, openness, participation as the social factors that build and define a great Internet experience as well as our products.
In was a very rewarding evening, and an honor to be recognized.