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Foundation:Planning:Movement

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This page is still a draft. Comments and contributions encouraged.

During 2009, we want to experiment with building a broad, participatory movement around the Mozilla values. In particular, we want to focus our the general goal (from our Mozilla 2010 goals) of "(Making) openness, participation and distributed decision-making more common experiences in Internet life."

This program aims to provide us with measurable ways to reach our general 2010 goal. Major parts of the program are focused on:

  • engaging participants, peers, media and the broad public;
  • fostering open and reusable innovation; and
  • operating various projects.

Contents

Engagement

A key part of this program - and likely of all our programs - should be an active, ongoing process to engage participants, peers, media and the broad public.

To successfully engage these people we need to maintain a constant flow of accessible discussion about what we are doing, why we are doing it and how people can participate. Much of this conversation will happen via blog posts, mailing lists, news groups and forums. We can increase the visibility of our conversations by using tools like http://del.icio.us, http://identi.ca and the like.

To reach a large and varied audience, we should collaborate with peers and experts who hold similar values by inviting them to make topic-specific posts on our blog, seeking guest spots on their blogs, encouraging visitors to visit eachother's blogs/sites, and so on. See the #Conversation Arc section below for concrete examples.

We need to ensure that we provide enough context for people less familiar with the topic, and clear and well-defined participation points for different audiences.

We also want to make sure that we engage people in ways that help them participate in meaningful and personally valuable ways that align with our values. In each pilot below, I've outlined what I think this will look like for the various participants.

Also, we need to ensure that we recognize (and make use of) work and expertise that already exists in this space. See #Conversation Arc for a concrete example of this.

Open Innovation

The 2010 general goal is large and hairy. To make it easier to achieve will require innovative thinking.

To help foster the needed innovation and as a part of our process of engaging people, we want to publicly iterate over ideas and solicit new ideas from the people we engage. See #Conversation Arc for examples of how we can do this.

We want to share and spread the project ideas that can further the Mozilla Manifesto so that others can use them, as we are unlikely to have the needed resources to implement all of the ideas generated (or simply may not be interested in a particular idea.)

Of course, we will need appropriate licensing for incoming and outgoing project ideas, to reduce our risk of unwittingly creating traps for ourselves or others.

Conversation Arc

Here is a set of potential blog posts meant to get a broad range of participants and peers engaged.

Post 1: Repost Mitchell's final general goal (http://blog.lizardwrangler.com/2008/12/18/final-version-of-general-2010-goal.) Discuss why this is a big, hairy, audacious goal. Correlate it to the Manifesto. Discuss what we've already done towards this goal. Explain that the coming series of posts will explore ways we can measure and realize this goal.

Post 2: Identify things that can be measured in relation to the goal. Ask for help identifying other measurable behaviors and outcomes. Propose milestones.

Post 3: Ask someone like master statistician Patrick Ball from Benetech to discuss strategies to help us collect meaningful data, identify trends and so on.

Post 4: Write a post that catalogs and summarizes major Mozilla activities in the relevant areas. Include and credit friendly projects like Participatory Culture Foundation. This post will help us ensure that we get the positive attention of MoCo folks working in related areas.

Post 5: Write about developing a program to collect brief videos of people saying what the Net means to them. Discuss what we would hope to get from the program, e.g. people thinking about what the Net means to them, a collection of compelling content for use in other works (including mashups), a community of people who are being cultivated as communicators of Mozilla values, etc. Include a series of videos from interesting and famous people who have broad popular interest.

Post 6: Ask James Sherrett from Vancouver startup AdHack (a site dedicated to creating a community of people who create ads) to riff about other things that could be done in this area. (Note: James is a friend of Mozilla Foundation staffer Zak Greant)

Post 7: Have a post that explores how Amazon-like and php.net-like participation models could support the goal and engage a different segment of the community.

Post 8: Ask Vancouver social innovator Joe Solomon to highlight effective online strategies used by other organizations as they work on similarly large goals.

Post 9: Write about how this goal is different from traditional media literacy work. Make the point that media literacy is fundamentally about consumption, while net literacy is fundamentally about participation. (Note: We don't agree on the use of Net Literacy as a term. Some of us feel it is too dull, others fear it is too patronizing. We'll think of a term that better frames the issue. )

Post 10: Expand on the ideas in https://wiki.mozilla.org/Pilot/How_To_Change_the_Net (Using some term other than "Change the Net", as we don't all agree that this is a good way to frame what we want to achieve.)

Post 11: Write about business models that help support this goal. Ask someone like Monty from MySQL to pitch in his thoughts, as he has an interest in this area - http://zak.greant.com/hacking-business-models (Note: Monty is a friend of Mozilla Foundation staffer Zak Greant)

Pilot Projects

A People's History of the Net

This project will help people tell their story of how they found the Net, how it has changed their life and what they hope the Net will mean to them in the future.

We'll help participants by providing them with examples, tips, guidelines and questions to prompt their thinking. With their stories, participants will submit a biography to help put their stories into context.

The project should be localized to as many locales as possible. We want to get a broad, compelling and personal view of how the net affects different cultures and people. We also want to reach across other demographics - ages, years of net use, gender, race, socio-economic status, etc.

Stories will be collected and reviewed by a community. All stories that meet a certain standard will be published on a "People's History" site. The best stories will be published through prestigious channels, such as well-read blogs, print media and so on. We'll need to fact-check the most visible stories to reduce our risk of being gamed. We'll also want to translate the best stories so that we can increase the reach of what should be powerful personal stories.

We hope that project participants will gain insight into how the Net shapes their life, making them better able to understand (and, we hope, align with) the Mozilla values. The personal nature of this project makes it so that any participant able to tell their story can participate - regardless of their technical aptitude. We will need to structure the program to create positive, affirming experiences for participants. We can do this by ensuring that the review process is constructive, that participants in the program are rewarded for positive behavior (and may be barred for destructive behavior), that participation is tied to reputation, and so on. We also need the program to be templateable and to have the potential of being largely community-run over time.

The program will be inexpensive to run and can engage thousands of people in a range of ways: as story-tellers, story-gatherers, reviewers, researchers, editors or community managers. The program also provides us with a channel to educate interested people about Mozilla and our values. We can run the program in stages, extending the amount of time we have to interact with participants. We have many locales in which to run the project, helping us maintain global momentum for it.

This project and the following "Net Worth" project will provide seeds for a mixed, global community of engaged, creative communicators who are a part of the Mozilla community and who actively work to explore and share our values. Both projects will also be ripe for parody — this probably is not a bad thing.

Net Worth: 12 Second Stories about How the Net Changed My Life

The Net Worth project takes a more reductive approach to the same opportunity as the "People's History" project, collecting 12 (24? 30? 60?) second video statements of how the Net has changed someone's life.

Where the "People's History" project provides us with case studies, compelling prose, participant introspection and a community process geared towards helping people build a positive personal understanding of the Net, the "Net Worth" project provides us with the compressed and compelling representations of the pivotal and global power of the Net as told through thousands of statements by thousands of voices and thousands of faces.

We won't further elaborate this pilot at this time - it is similar enough to the "People's History" project to not need further discussion in this document.

Mozilla Net Lifestyle Survey

While each Net user has stories to tell about the Net, only a small portion of us will be able to do so. Also, while there is a lot of value in stories, they are likely not representative of the overall Net experience. We can address both of these issues by running an ongoing survey that gathers information on how the Net intersects with the social, political, civic, personal, financial, business, etc. parts of people's lives. We also want to gather information about how people view the Mozilla values.

As with our story projects, we would seek to localize the survey, gathering data across as many locales as we can.

This survey data will be tremendously valuable for our planning and measuring activities. We can use it to help identify opportunities, needs and risks; develop better models of market dynamics; measure the broad effect of changes in the Net space; and so on. Additionally, most of the participants in our space - from non-profits to communities to businesses to governments - will find this data extremely useful, enabling them to work more effectively.

We'll need to discuss this project idea with our survey team and other topic experts.


Principles

The following principles and constraints guide the development and deployment of this program. Note that most of these principles apply to our other programs as well.

Program work must:

  • Align with the Mozilla Manifesto
  • Generate results within three months of the program start. Not of all the pilots suggested fit into this timeframe, but the early pilots will generate results if started soon enough
  • Generate significant and measurable cultural, financial and social return on investment. Somewhat arbitrarily, I've suggested that we aim for a minimum 100-to-1 return over one year. Roughly, every hour that we invest (or fund), we want to see one hundred times as much Manifesto-aligned value created (see metrics below).

Program work should:

  • Complement the activities of others who are helping to realize the pledges in the Mozilla Manifesto
  • Be engaging to and validated by our peers within Mozilla and the Mozilla peer communities (Creative Commons, Wikipedia, etc.)
  • Bring people into the Mozilla community as participants & creators
  • Have tangible and relevant personal benefits for participants
  • Be done in a transparent and visible fashion
  • Be done online or have a strong online component
  • Be localizable and templeatable

Metrics

Metrics and return on investment are tightly linked. To have a chance to understand the change we foment, we need to be able to measure what we put in and what outputs are generated along the way.

Towards this end, I've outlined a rough set of metric areas that we should consider benchmarking and tracking, along with some larger issues that we should work with sociologists and other -ists to study.

To measure effectively, we'll need better reporting that tracks what how much time we spend and what results we observe.

Of course, we'll need to balance between the 'want to measure' and the 'need to act'. Ideally, we will find partners that have an interest and incentive to perform studies, and automate collection of some metrics.

We'll also need to consider which data we choose to share.

Community

For communities related to the activities, we may want to track:

  • The number of communities
  • Community diversity
  • Community size in terms of output and time frames (e.g. 23 people who have reported more than 5 bugs in the last year)
  • Locale vitality - how active are the different region and language groups.
  • Participant affiliations and motivation - what enables people to contribute and what are their motives
  • Visibility of program participants and community resources
  • Community output in terms of:
    • Bug reports
    • Goods created and infrastructure maintained
    • Discussions statistics
    • Donations, fund-raising, volunteer hours
    • Events and meetings

Community lines are blurry. We can't easily fix this and we shouldn't try - mostly we just need to point out the blur so that we don't create false expectations around the metrics. We can ask community participants to help us understand and measure the community. We may also be able to instrument the online infrastructure of communities that we help start.

Goods and Infrastructure

We want to gather metrics about the goods and infrastructure that our activities create or enable. We also want to gather metrics about what these goods and infrastructure enable directly. By goods, we mean everything from software to how-to guides to business models to research. By infrastructure, we mean everything from online services to government and university programs. Community is a particularly important instance of infrastructure. Particular information to gather includes:

  • What goods and infrastructure have we generated from the program activities, both directly and indirectly?
  • How closely aligned are the goods and infrastructure with the manifesto?
  • What major works have been derived from these goods and infrastructure?
  • How downloaded/used/redistributed/bundled/exploited is the good or infrastructure?
  • How much visibility is associated with the good or infrastructure?
  • What is the economic value of the goods and infrastructure in the market?
  • How is the market affected?

Individual Empowerment and Engagement

We want to know how participants are affected by their participation in the Mozilla community and empowerment programs. Elements to assess could include:

  • Freedom to access essential infrastructure (gov't resources, civic resources, banking, etc.)
  • Freedom to work
  • Quality of life
  • Revenue tied to Mozilla resources
  • Individual visibility and reputation
  • Perception and support of Mozilla goals

Revenue

For our non-profit governance, we probably measure revenue more than enough for project purposes. We probably just want to correlate the following things with our projects:

  • Donations
  • Directed donations
  • Guided donations (where a second party donates money to a third on our advice, but without the funds passing through us.)
  • Other revenue
  • Program effect on our public support test

Notes