I’m extremely happy to announce I have accepted a new position with Mozilla as the European Drumbeat project producer. Unfortunately, I will be leaving both Socialsquareand Creative Commons. My new job will be leading projects that make the web better. Or, in the words of Mozilla: “lead projects that help people around the world to understand, participate and take control of their online lives”. This is what I love doing, and i am both humbled, proud and eager to get started.
“Ok, so, I know Mozilla, but what is this Drumbeat thing?”
Friends and family were initially as confused as I was, when I first heard about Drumbeat. “Does it have something to do with Firefox?” most of them asked. Well: Drumbeat is related to Firefox, but it is not the same thing. Drumbeat is about taking the story and mission of Mozilla beyond code (the stuff that browsers and the web is made of) and reaching into the broader internet culture. It’s about engaging new people in new ways.
So what is this really about?
For the critical reader – one of my first questions when I was interviewing in Paris was: “What’s the real agenda here?” (meaning: this is too good to be true!). I’m trained as a journalist; and supposedly always looking for hidden agendas. So far there seems to be none. This is NOT about Mozilla or anyone else harvesting ideas from many to the benefit of a few. It’s about keeping the web free and open, working together, and defining what the future of the web should be like. Mozilla has proven that large-scale collaboration can result in great, perhaps the greatest, results. The success of Firefox is both reassuring and an extremely tough act to follow. I don’t know how to code. I donated a few bucks to help Firefox at the outset, and got my name in the Firefox 1.0 NYT ad in return. I’ve had a Spread Firefox banner on this blog; stickers on my laptop, submitted bugs when my browser crashed. But, with Firefox, even if I could not contribute directly writing brilliant lines of code, I always felt part of a mission, something bigger. My ownership was proportionate to my contributions. This is how Drumbeat projects will be. And, importantly, Mozilla will provide seed funding (grants) to projects which are well-defined and ready for support. This is an ideal way to spend some of the money Mozilla has made from search royalties.
“What kind of projects will you be looking for? Could it be anything?”
So, while projects will be varied, all of them will include a strong element of people participating and lending their skills to activities that directly improve and protect the open nature of the internet. Some of the existing projects are related to the free culture advocacy and activism which has been a big part of my life for the past few years, others will be new and exciting territory. This could be arts, education, journalism, governance or, hopefully, something completely unexpected – if it helps the overarching goal of making the web better, stronger and more open, it’s relevant.
Where, what, how?
I will be based in Paris, France, at Mozilla’s European headquarters. About 25% of my time will be devoted to Web Made Movies, one of the first Drumbeat projects, headed by web documentary pioneer Brett Gaylor. Web Made Movies will, if successful, spread a deeper understanding of how openness makes the internet the wonderful thing it is, develop new practices and tools based on HTML5 technologies. And it will create a networks of web-native filmmakers who want to push the envelope. But mainly over the next months, I’ll be identifying and supporting projects with a clear idea and strong potential for user participation, and working to push them forward. Since it’s still early days, we will be focussing on bringing new people into the circle. So, if you’re reading this and you have an idea, submit it here. At the end of the year at least one will be moving forward, will be funded, and will be getting a lot of attention and support from the Drumbeat team, from a great community of talented people, and from me in particular. I will be blogging (less words, maybe some audio, lots of video) along the way; more details about that later.
So, I’m sad to be leaving my colleagues at Socialsquare and friends in Copenhagen behind, but confident that everyone who knows me understands why I have to do this. Keep in touch, and please help me make Drumbeat successful!