Why Mozilla (for me)?

It’s official. I’m here at Mozilla for the indefinite future with a title of Head of Core Contributors, Participation. Basically, I’m responsible for enabling a team of volunteers and staff to grow the size and impact of our community of most-committed volunteer Mozillians.

As I considered this role, I asked myself: Why Mozilla? Of all of the places in the world that I can apply my energy and talents, why here? I wanted to share my answer (as of today):

The past 150 years has brought the greatest advances in freedom and opportunity in human history.

It has also brought (a) existential, complex global and local challenges, and (b) a centralizing of power. Centralized power cannot solve, and is often the cause of, these existential challenges.

The web is the single greatest (and maybe only) chance humanity has to address these challenges, because it can decentralize power and unleash the human ingenuity of millions of people.

But the web itself is being centralized and made less open. From locked-down content, to ring-fenced platforms, to the advertising/ economics of the web, to technology stacks. The largest and most powerful organizations and governments in the world are eroding the openness of the web.

Mozilla is probably the world’s best chance to reverse this trend. We are the only organization in the world that is championing a vision of openness on the web, has the scale to achieve it, and as a mission-driven, not-for-profit doesn’t have its purpose corrupted by shareholders and profit motives.

At the same time, this is such a wildly ambitious organizational vision that only a movement of talented people working together — volunteer Mozillians and our allies — has a chance to see this vision become a reality.

What’s truly energizing about my role is that the Mozilla brand, user-base, financial resources and mythology is a platform to build a participation function that can scale to directly enabling millions to take actions aligned with their own passions and beliefs. This can be at the leading edge of what anyone has done before in organizing people globally and locally. And when we are successful, the web will be the platform we need to address humanity’s most pressing challenges.

Finally, to quote a great Canadian Marshall McLuhan, “the medium is the message”. The pattern of working that Mozilla is pioneering is transformative (or will be with the organizational changes that have been articulated in the vision of radical participation) — open, self-organizing and adaptive, creativity from the edges, distributed leadership and voice, each and every Mozillian accountable to each other and for the whole.

At a meta level, these are key to the broader global social justice changes I believe in. This pattern, and its impact on the millions of deep relationships we can build through participation, may be another of Mozilla’s enduring legacy and impact.

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