What is this project?
“Reimagine Open” is an initiative led by Mozilla acknowledging that the historical, open architecture of the internet has been subdued by the interests of a select few — which has led to many negative experiences online. Mozilla would like to revisit the ways we practice open to imagine better futures for our digital lives. Is the term "open" still getting us where we want to go? How do the challenges of today push our understanding of openness and what we need to build and advocate for?
This is part of the reason why today’s online experiences seem to be all about addiction, privacy and security breaches, misinformation, online harassment, and hate speech. It is time to resurface the positive implications of “openness” facing today’s challenges of online life.
Access, individual opportunity, participation, and empowerment are the driving factors, enshrined in the Mozilla manifesto, behind why Mozilla has been and continues to be dedicated to championing the open internet.
By revisiting the ways we put open into practice, and open systems in particular, we can identify shortcomings and imagine better, positive futures for our digital lives.
To read further reflections on these questions and how Mozilla is reimagining open, see this paper which was the culmination of the first year of this work.
Reimagine Open 2021 Goals
Ultimately, we want to see more people building a better internet -- either on their own or collaboratively with Mozilla.
With this in mind, we have the following 2021 goals for the Reimagine Open work:
1. Continue to clarify what open -- and the Mozilla Manifesto -- mean in the current era.
2. Test what (if anything) ‘open’ means today for our allies working on local innovation, trustworthy AI, tech policy, racial justice, ethical tech startups, etc.
3. Encourage others to test out and expand what open means in their work.
A set of loosely connected people and teams across Mozilla are pursuing these goals in their own way. Their work is listed below.
2021 Project Directory
|1.|| Powering Local Innovation in the Global South
Can the foundational principles of openness be applied today in the context of supporting innovation ecosystems in the Global South?
|Background||In early 2020, Mozilla greenlit work now known as the African Innovation Mradi. This is a joint Mozilla Foundation/Corporation initiative, with the primary objective of catalysing innovation with and for communities in Eastern and Southern Africa. Our approach to this work is to be driven by local needs, to support local voices and entrepreneurs, and to solve local problems. Our goals are to generate product development, build community, build capacity, and produce a meaningful impact on the African internet ecosystem.|
|Reimagine Open Project|| In 2021, part of this work will convene a group of partners to support and deepen conversations about ‘open’ in the Africa region and India, and spur the creation of actionable recommendations for the future, specifically:
|Regional Focus||The regional focus is pan-African as well as a country deep-dive on India.|
|Contact||Alice Munyua <email@example.com>|
|2.||Transparency, Open Data and Telecommunications|
|Background|| More detailed and public information on the extent of telecommunications infrastructure is becoming essential in order to better understand access, connectivity gaps, opportunities and how they can best be addressed.
Within the telecommunication sector we are now seeing more layer separation and specialisation of services. This is creating a more complex network environment that requires a higher level of public transparency in order to understand how investments are benefiting society.
Currently most telecommunications infrastructure data are not available in a format that can be easily integrated into other geographic information systems precluding their use for analysis by regulators, researchers, and investors.
|Reimagine Open Project|| There is a wide variance in approaches by operators and regulators with regard to transparency in the sector. Some operators publish a detailed network map and government communication ministries publish a detailed map of their national fibre backbone. Most countries publish nothing at all. What is needed is a change of norms to make transparency the default with operators and regulators alike.
This initiative will build upon existing data and on lessons learned from the Open movement to change the norms around transparency in the telecommunications sector. It will catalyse a multi-institution partnership focused on open standards and advocacy.
|Regional Focus||The regional focus is pan-African.|
|Contact||Alice Munyua <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|3.||Open and Trustworthy AI|
|Background||Mozilla has ideas for how to work towards AI that enriches the lives of human beings, rather than harms them. We call it ‘trustworthy AI’ and this framing guides a large part of our work. If we want a healthy internet — and a healthy digital society — we need to make sure AI is trustworthy. AI, and the large pools of data that fuel it, are central to how computing works today. If we want apps, social networks, our devices and government to serve us as people — and as citizens — we need to make sure the way we build with AI has things like privacy and fairness built in from the get go.|
|Reimagine Open Project|| In 2021, we will undertake writing an addendum to the 2020 Trustworthy AI paper (in progress). The paper, released in May 2020, talks about how industry, regulators and citizens of the internet can work together to build more agency and accountability into our digital world.
The 2021 addendum will link our work on trustworthy AI explicitly to our reimagination of the concept of ‘open’.
|Contact||Mark Surman <email@example.com>|
|4.||Open and Movement Building|
|Background||Since 2019, and as part of the second phase of Mozilla Foundation’s movement building strategy, our work has focused on developing trustworthy AI. But key to developing trustworthy AI across our movement is hearing from, and understanding what 'open' means to and for other movements and communities.|
|Reimagine Open Project|| “Open” in modern social movements
One of Mozilla’s 2021 OKRs is to grow across movements. We seek to strengthen partnership with diverse movements to deepen intersections between their primary issues and ours, including trustworthy AI.
This work will help us reach our goal of understanding what utility the concept of open has for our allies across movements.
|Contact||J. Bob Alotta <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|5.||Strategic communications (joint MoCo/MoFo re: Mozilla identity)|
|Background||Open has been a part of Mozilla’s identity from the beginning. But, continuing to deepen our understanding of what open means to us is crucial as we combat intractable challenges facing our digital world today.|
|Reimagine Open Project|| Across Mozilla, a team of people has come together to work on a strategic communications plan. This work will very likely incorporate some aspects of ‘open’ in our joint messaging and reimaging what open means for the future of Mozilla will be a central consideration as this work develops.
How this project takes shape, if it does, is still under investigation by the larger team.
|Contact||Ashley Boyd <email@example.com> & Erica Terry Derryck <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
In January 2020, Cathleen and Michelle published a recap of the Reimagine Open process to date, acknowledging contributions from partners such as the Global Innovation Gathering and the Labmobile, as well as pointing to the many efforts within and beyond Mozilla that sought inspiration from this process. Read more about privacy & security in product, radical transparency in advocacy, open principles in public policy, reclaiming openness in fellowships, as well as a new large-scale exploration about the State of the Internet.
Reimagine Open has also contributed to Mozilla's thinking around environmental sustainability as well as an exploration of cities as a solution space for inclusive participation and open decision-making.
Mitchell Baker, Cathleen Berger, Alan Davidson, Amba Kak, Alice Munyua, and Michelle Thorne tested and probed the idea of reimagining open in an open consultation process over the course of 2019 and into 2020 through conversations, speaking engagements, dedicated focus groups, and a broad-based survey.
- Launch of Reimagine Open
- First set of results from open consultation process
- What came out of Reimagine Open?
- Reimagine Open: Building a Healthier Internet
- What could an “Open” ID system look like?: Recommendations and Guardrails for National Biometric ID Projects
- Road to Sustainability: Introducing the Museum of the Fossilized Internet
Interviews and articles
- Mitchell Baker shares vision for future of tech, Cornell Chronicle
- Mitchell Baker, The Future of the Internet, Norad conference
- Mozilla calls for openness in digital ID systems 1,2,3
- 5 ways to take care of your digital self
- Privacy during a time of the COVID-19 pandemic