This is an attempt by the Frenchmozilla team to translate this original blog post by Clochix. (1).
Tonight I realize that I have been wrong for a long time when introducing Mozilla as an organization of friendly hippies whose mission is to make the Web better. My bad. Mozilla's mission is not to make the Web better but to make people's lives better. The Web is just the mean used by the Foundation to reach this goal.
The Web is an immense wasteland that Mozilla want to help us live in comfortably. It does so by providing tools to cultivate this land and teaching us how to use these tools. The mission of the Foundation and its value are global, you can agree with them whatever your culture is, I think. But even if we can easily agree on this universal goal, the means to reach it are much more complicated.
During its pionneer years, Mozilla mainly chose a technical path, creating tools. A domain where there are few cultural peculiarities that interfere. You can still debate on what would be more appropriate to forge, a shovel, a spade or a digging shovel. But this would be more personal choice than collective history.
Nowadays we have a set of tools at hand, so it is time to go to the next level: learn how to use them and invent new usages. This is where things start becoming complicated. The issues involved go beyond technical questions and are starting to shift into to social and cultural interactions. We are drifting away from the universal towards an area where there are multiple points of view, depending on the social and cultural environment in which members of the community have grown up in and come from. It is much more difficult to communicate with everyone using one common language. During the past few months I happened to notice 2 examples clearly showing this problem. Two cases where, though I understand and agree with the stated goal, I feel uneasy with the proposed way of achieving it.
The first one is the influence of the North American variant of scoutism on Mozilla. Mitchell Baker recently mentioned how she has been influenced by being one Girl Scout of the United States when younger. Mark Surman, another key person of the Foundation, has just suggested that Mozilla could help and create a Webscouts movement.
This is not only verbal assumption. OpenBadges, which is the key project for Mozilla investment in education, is directly inspired by the badges given as rewards by some scouts movements to testify one acquired ability or another. Unfortunately, the badge concept and its link to education seems to me very hard to explain to the French-speaking people I happen to discuss with. The basics of Scout culture are probably less known in French society as a whole. It may not be relevant to use this reference as inspiring.
That's Mark Surman, again, who made me think about this second case, talking about the possibility to use the generic name of "Web Makers", to name the support program for creation on the web. That's a concept Mark introduced last year and which is inspired directly from the "makers" movement, a very active group in the USA since a long time.
Mark also refers to the peculiar ethics of the adepts of this movement, willing to transpose it to the Web. But, this movement is almost invisible in France, or it has neither the form nor the impact of the one in the US. And about makers ethics…
How, then, could we be able to explain what Mozilla wants to do, talking about WebMakers? There isn't any French word to address this concept, how could we explain something we don't even know how to name?
All that tends to make me wonder whether Mozilla should not include a touch of relativism in its plans. Yes, it is crucial to teach the Web, yes again, creation on the Web must be enhanced and supported, I assume everyone belonging to the community agrees on these points. But the way to achieve these goals may not be the same everywhere. Some analogies here will be clear enlightment, but there would possibly obscure things. I don't like cultural revolution when decided from the above. Maybe each local community, with the support of Mozilla Foundation, should try and grasp these questions of education to the Web and Web creation, and try and solve issues matching local context. Wait a minute, wouldn't it be a refreshed version of the famous motto by René Dubos "Think Global, Act Local"?
What do you think?
(1) Yes, it is Mozilla-related and CoC (whatever) compliant. This blogpost has been certified discrimination-free by our most respected B.O.R.E (Board Of Respect Evaluators)