In the past few weeks I’ve been involved in a lot of conversations about strengthening the Mozilla Foundation and a lot of conversations about the 2010 goals. I don’t think we’ve got the connection between the two quite right.
We’ve been thinking about the Foundation’s role in too small a way. We’ve been thinking along the lines of: “Which portion of our goals has a good space for Foundation activity?” Or “are some of these goals particularly Foundation-like?” The result has been identification of some areas that do feel particularly appropriate for the Foundation. But this isn’t the biggest, or most important question. These questions focus on organizational structure rather than the goals themselves.
The really important question is: How does Mozilla assemble / motivate / use all of our resources to achieve the things we identify as most important? In the near future, the Foundation will develop new programs and new capabilities. For example, Mark has mentioned “education” as a likely area of focus. Let’s assume that’s the case, and let’s assume that mobile is a 2010 goal. The question we should be asking is: what are all the things Mozilla can do to bring openness and participation and innovation to a unified web that spans mobile devices and the desktop?
The Foundation leads a set of product – related programs indirectly, through delegation to Mozilla Corporation and Mozilla Messaging. It currently leads a set of programs directly, and will organize and lead a larger set in the future. All of these programs should contribute to the tasks we think are most important. The product groups — browser, platform, messaging, email should all be contributing to each goal. Other parts of the Mozilla community will hopefully use their resources to help achieve the same goals. The Mozilla Foundation should lead the way here.
With this approach, I looked at the goals again to see if they make sense. I think they do. Of course, the goals may be revised a bit as a result of the conversations of the past few months. But I don’t feel that the list should be changed due to increased Mozilla Foundation involvement. If the Foundation focuses on education, then it makes sense that some part of those programs would try to advance a unified web, consumer control over relevant data, and the other goals. If the Mozilla Foundation has a program focused on consumer outreach or evangelism, it again makes sense that part of those programs focus on the 2010 goals.
I also find that this approach better reflects the centrality of the Mozilla Foundation values — we are all focused on building an the Internet that refects Mozilla values. Some of us do so through creating products. This is not separate from the key values or somehow different from the heart of the Mozilla Foundation. The products exist to make our values concrete. Our products exist to put innovation, choice and participation at the fingertips of hundreds of millions of people.
The products also open many doors, from evangelism to participation to thought leadership. All of thse resouces should be utilized in pursuit of our goals.
I’d like to go back and look at the the Foundation through this broader lens of Mozilla-wide goals. I’ve talked with Mark about this. I think it’s fair to say he was also feeling we’re not quite there yet with the Foundation-specific part of the 2010 goals. Mark will certainly speak for himself, but I do know that this more integrated approach resonates well with his work. Look for something on this topic from Mark soon.