Mozilla aims to build openness and choice into the fabric of the Internet. We see that fabric as including technology and products on the one hand, and the communities of people who understand and build an open Internet on the other hand.
We aim to offer increased participation opportunities across our activities—to enable more people to know more, do more, and do better in online life. Recently we’ve renewed our focus on embedding participation even more deeply into Mozilla. Mark Surman and I have each committed to a deeper ongoing involvement in the participatory aspects of Mozilla. We’ve also asked George Roter to lead a 6 month experimentation phase of testing activities that make participation more impactful on our mission and more rewarding for contributors. Mark wrote about this here.
For much of our history, Mozilla has been a pioneer—even radical—in the scope of participation that’s possible with Mozilla. Many of our prior innovations have been adopted as mainstream today.
So that raises the question—what do pioneering—even radical—new innovations in a participatory structure look like?
How do we test out ideas, especially those that might require changes in how we operate? Right now I see the scope as including three broad areas.
- The first area is the world of our “core contributors”—those people who identify deeply with Mozilla and devote considerable amount of time and their energies in moving the Mozilla mission forward. Here we’re focused on how to help this group of people be more effective, how to grow skills and leadership, and how to have more impact flowing from the edges.
- A second area is making connections between all the different groups of people who want to contribute to Mozilla and our mission. This includes our core contributors of course, and expands much further. It includes the people who are Firefox enthusiasts, the 22,000 Firefox Student Ambassadors in 139 countries around the world, and the 1,300 volunteers who help people with our products every day on https://support.mozilla.org. It includes the 382,500 people who make financial donations to Mozilla. It includes the hundreds of thousands of people who participate in advocacy campaigns such as Stop Watching Us and Net Neutrality. Can we act in ways that these groups feel more connected? Can we act in ways that make it easy for people to move from one group to another fluidly?
- The third area is organizational structure and practices. As we learn more about new and deeper styles of participation, how do we organize ourselves to maximize this potential?
We’re going to explore and experiment in these 3 areas. We’re introducing the idea of a Participation Lab to lead this process. You can learn more about how we’ve gotten to this point over the last few months here. And you can find information on the Participation Lab from George Roter here.