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Beating the drum for Open

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Mark Surman, my friend and colleague, who heads up Mozilla.org is beating the drum for openess with a project called Drumbeat. Most people know Mozilla as the host for the community that co-produced the open browser Firefox. Firefox currently accounts for approximately 25% of the web browsers in use. More importantly Firefox is free software, free for anyone to copy, modify, improve and share. While there are other free browers such as Opera and Google’s Chrome for many years it was Firefox which provided the standards complaint alternative to various non standards compliant versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. With Firefox use on the rise Drumbeat is intended to ensure support an open Internet in other areas, the projects long term vision is “make sure the internet is still open, participatory, decentralized and public 100 years from now”. Focus in the first year of Drumbeat is on concrete projects to bootstrap the creation of a community: visualising the Web and assembling an Open Webskills course at P2PU. As fascinating as these are what is more intriguing is the way in which Mark, and Mozilla are using the social processes which helped create great free and open source projects like Firefox as a way of generating not just more open projects but ideas about openness.

It is the potential of this recursive process; an open process to sustain open processes which gets my attention. Can the forces of enclosure use the open process against the commons? Or are open processes themselves the best protection against enclosure? Openness is always under attack, I am grateful that there are initiatives like Drumbeat to keep the internet open.