should Mozilla empower movements?
Posted by suneelgupta on November 11, 2008
In my last post (build your movement here), I thought out loud about Mozilla creating a “Movement Suite”, which would offer a set of applications to empower any group looking to build or expand a movement. In his reply, Mark Surman correctly pointed out that existing sites, such as Social Source Commons, have similar offerings. So there are two issues here: 1) whether Mozilla can make a meaningful contribution in the movement empowerment space; and 2) whether Mozilla would be competing with existing sites if it made this contribution.
1. Can Mozilla make meaningful contributions to a crowded space of sites that offer a central point for movements to build their toolkits? My sense is that we can for two reasons. First, the Mozilla add-ons site, which would be a natural place for a “movement suite” to live, has the traffic to ramp adoption of movement applications better than any other mission-based site I’m aware of. According to alexa.com, mozilla.org is the 797th most popular online site (over the past 3 months) and nearly 85% of that traffic directs itself to the add-ons site. The ramp is further illustrated by the following chart, which compares mozilla.org traffic with that of techsoup.org, a fantastic and relatively well-known resource for movement builders.
The second, and more important reason, is that Mozilla has enough trust to ramp a movement suite. A high traffic applications site doesn’t have impact if a user doesn’t trust it enough to proceed with a download. At the beginning of the year, Ken Kovash at Mozilla announced that 600 million add-ons had been downloaded from Mozilla.org. This is a positive sign of trust.
2. Would Mozilla be competing with existing sites like Social Source and Tech Soup if it decided to help empower movements? I don’t think it would. The primary objective of a “movement suite” is not to build, but to gather existing applications into a central point. Mozilla’s add-ons site currently hosts over 6,000 add-ons, the overwhelming majority of which were not built internally. To create a movement suite, Mozilla might pick the best 8-10 applications for movement building and package them, like Linked In did with its application suite. If other non-profit sites share our vision to empower movements by guiding them to the right tools, then we would be supporting their mission, not competing against it.
Furthermore, a movement suite might actually include tools built by other movement enablers. Mozilla’s objective would be to promote these tools widely so that more movements have the tools they need to operate effectively.
Lots of wrinkles and further thought needed here. First, we need to continue to build our list of applications that would go into the suite (eg, what does a group need to build a movement effectively?). Second, we need to determine a fair way to select the best applications that achieve these objectives amongst over 6,000 add-ons that live on the site. Third, we need to figure out a way to push the movement suite to those who need it the most – other than promoting it on the add-ons site.
I continue to seek advice, and have learned a lot over the past few days from Nicholas Reville at the Participatory Culture Foundation as well as Atul Varma and Paul Kim at Mozilla. These conversations are helping me to move past the “why” and on to the “how”.