Participation Plus

June 18th, 2009

So far we’ve used the word “participate” as in: “Mozilla promotes choice, innovation and participation on the Internet.” That’s good, but it’s not enough. Many of us participate in closed systems where the rules are set for us and we don’t see them, certainly can’t change them, and aren’t permitted to “participate” in building the rules. This is true of very popular web services. For example, I “participate” in Flickr and Facebook, but within the system and rules that those organizations set up to meet their own goals. That’s fine; there’s no reason for those sites to change.

Mozilla is trying to build a layer of the Internet that’s different, where “participation” extends to the very core of what we build. I’m still struggling to find a crisp way to describe this. If you’ve got thoughts about how to do this — in any language — I would love to hear them.

18 comments for “Participation Plus”

  1. 1

    Josh said on June 18th, 2009 at 8:45 am:

    I love Mozilla for its flexibility and adherence to code standards. It is a very valuable tool that I use very often. Thank you, and keep up the great work!

  2. 2

    Scott Fitchet said on June 18th, 2009 at 8:57 am:

    I think you’re trying to streamline design transparency.

    (make Bugzilla more social, usable, RSS-able, tweet-able, fun)

  3. 3

    Dan Mosedale said on June 18th, 2009 at 9:03 am:

    One thing that occurs to me is that the sentence fragment “Mozilla promotes […] participation […]” frames Mozilla as a thing which encourages others to participate but makes no implication at all about whether Mozilla itself is participatory. Replacing “promotes” with “is about” feels like it carries more of the implication you’re looking for. Worth iterating on, perhaps.

  4. 4

    Mitchell Baker said on June 18th, 2009 at 9:38 am:

    dmose: yes, the verb is important. My favorite is “Mozilla builds . . . ” openness, innovation, participation, [word i’m stuggling to find] . . .

  5. 5

    Dan Mosedale said on June 18th, 2009 at 10:25 am:

    generativity is a word in this general space that I’ve been liking lately. I’m not sure it’s necessarily the right one here, but it’s got something going for it…

  6. 6

    Mitchell Baker said on June 18th, 2009 at 10:28 am:

    yup, that’s close. something like you can do things without asking permission, and they can be odd, creative things

  7. 7

    Sylvain D said on June 18th, 2009 at 1:32 pm:

    Maybe it’s more about building foundations for everybody to participate on the Internet.
    this is really long, but my English skills are laking the smaller way to say it.
    Maybe “set ground for you take part in the Internet” sounds better.

    PS: As long as my English skills are more efficient in computer sciences than in house building (I don’t even know how it’s called. See?).

  8. 8

    Mitchell Baker said on June 18th, 2009 at 1:41 pm:

    Sylvain: is there a word you like in your native language?

  9. 9

    Sylvain D said on June 18th, 2009 at 3:09 pm:

    I was thinking about “poser les fondations” (3 words instead of one, sorry)

    The “in real world” meaning is the following:
    “Poser les fondations d’un immeuble” witch is the digging and filling the hole with concrete so the future building can be built on solid ground.

    But it can be used this way:
    “Poser les fondations d’un avenir meilleur” that means doing the first steps (and the most critical) to build a better future. (it sounds positive and full of hope)

    But this way it’s not promotion at all. To put it in the way of the 4th comment it’s more building foundations for people/internet users involvement.
    (“Poser les fondations de la participation des gens/internautes”. ).

    By writing (and re-reading) my last sentence, maybe Mozilla just promotes “involvement” (by bringing down technical difficulties for us, that’s the “poser les fondations” part).

  10. 10

    David said on June 18th, 2009 at 8:24 pm:

    I often think about how to approach social networking from a security standpoint. We need modern communications software, but without the profit angle.

    Here is a conversation I started on this vein recently:

  11. 11

    Mitchell Baker said on June 19th, 2009 at 7:36 am:

    I’d like to have a way for some of my info – my friends, contacts, whatever — to be *mine* and then available to and used by a particular website — I hate re-entering names and contacts at a new site. Even in that case most people are likely to want that info to be used by services, including those that have a profit motive.

  12. 12

    raiph mellor said on June 20th, 2009 at 5:24 pm:

    collaboration, co-creativity

  13. 13

    raiph mellor said on June 21st, 2009 at 12:01 am:

    a google for cocreation led to which might be of interest; this page mentions two more interesting words: Crowdsourcing and Wikinomics.

    love, raiph

  14. 14

    Craig said on June 22nd, 2009 at 1:46 pm:

    How about conceptualization or even imagination? Jetpack, for example, is designed to be leveling in a way that taps the broader networked imagination of the Internet.

  15. 15

    Ian Atha said on June 22nd, 2009 at 6:51 pm:

    What you are describing sounds like interactive participation—not a form of passive participation—but a way of altering both parties involved. That’s what partaking in a community involves: all members of a community give and take. Most recently, President Obama’s campaign seems to reflect this idea of a nation-wide community to benefit all: the idea of responsible citizenry.

    Something like “Mozilla promotes choice, innovation and responsible citizenship on the Internet” ?

  16. 16

    John Dowdell said on June 24th, 2009 at 8:48 am:

    Hi Mitchell, I used to have a T-shirt that seemed to describe a similar thing — “Libertarians are Pro-Choice… on Everything!”

    If we open things up so that people have options, and are not locked down into an artificially restricted set of choices, that would allow for decentralized decision-making, a more diverse ecology.

    Do we share some common ground here…?

    tx, jd/adobe

  17. 17

    Lennie said on June 24th, 2009 at 4:42 pm:

    Judging by the title of the blog post I expected an announcement for service week ( ) , but I guess everything what Mozilla does is about participation. 😉

  18. 18

    Asa Dotzler said on June 26th, 2009 at 12:49 am:

    I think the missing components, though the words aren’t quite right, are design (shaping) and construction (building) — that is, the actual making of the thing, not just the utilization.

    As you said, we participate in (utilize) Facebook, but we didn’t have any direct involvement in shaping how it works or building the set of features to suit our needs.

    An Internet shaped and built by its users and not just occupied and utilized by its users is one way I’d characterize it.

    – A

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