Tag Archives: web

Code is all around us

What do we think about when we think about “code?” Many of us think something like this:

Alien. Intimidating. Gobbledygook. Maybe even vaguely sinister, like The Matrix. Something that says: this is not for you.

Whereas, for the Mozilla Webmaker project and our Summer Campaign to teach the world to code, we want people to imagine code more like this:

Or this:

Or maybe this:

In other words: code as something all around us. Warm. Human. Poetic. Not some scary bunch of geeky gibberish that only anointed high priests understand.

We want to show code and webmaking as revealing the patterns and hidden dimensions of everyday life. Swirling all around us. Like everyone’s second language.

The web as literacy. Code as everyone’s second language.

Code and webmaking as literacy — rather than just a professional skill. For a general audience of everyday people who have mostly never touched code before (teachers, youth, journalists, filmmakers, your mum), we want to employ a visual language that treats code less as math and mechanics and scary algorithms — and more as magic pixie dust. Or a maker’s language that can turn your big ideas into reality.

Once you see code as something that makes up your everyday world, you can begin to start using it yourself. To make something amazing, or bend the rules of everyday (digital) reality.  Moving from passive consumer of other people’s stuff to active creator of your own.

The hidden patterns and algorithms of everyday life

This opening to “Stranger Than Fiction” isn’t about code per se — but it perfectly captures the spirit we’re after. Revealing the hidden patterns and algorithms of everyday life.

The web as a maker’s world — NOT a series of tubes

Other visual examples of the web often try to depict it as a network or ecosystem. The challenge with this approach is that it emphasizes the pipes and tubes and tech — instead of the human dimension, and the web as a maker’s world.

Not this.

How do we apply this idea of “everyday code” in our visual language, branding and videos? As we think more about how to visually tell our Mozilla Webmaker story, we want to move away from abstract depictions of “the web” and instead emphasize the human dimension.

We want to tell stories about real people and Mozilla community members making amazing things. Passing and sharing them with others through a combination of maker spirit, open collaboration, and building the future they want together. Using real code to build big ideas.

Not this really, either

Seeking your examples: what else is like this?

I’d like to ask your help in collecting more examples like these. Images, web sites, memes, concrete examples — anything. Examples of:

  • Code as poetry. Code as a language for saying something more simply or elegantly than could be expressed otherwise.
  • Code as meme. Like “Movies as Code” Or “Programmer Ryan Gosling.”
  • Code as expression of the everyday world. In places we don’t ordinarily think of it: nature. An alarm clock. Your car.

What other sites or examples should we be looking at? I’m new to this world, and would love to learn from your favorites. Please share links as comments here. We want to collect memes and examples that can help inspire this style guide for our “Meet the Webmakers” video series.

We like the direction — but want to insert more real code into the mix, and slip in references that real developers will appreciate. So what examples would you include for inspiration? I know you’ve got them…

Crowdsourcing the State of the Union

Mozilla partners with public media to empower citizen engagement in U.S. election coverage

Tuesday’s State of the Union Address from U.S. President Barack Obama will include something special: crowdsourced captions and subtitles provided by everyday citizens around the world.

Using new web tools from Mozilla and the Participatory Culture Foundation, participants will transcribe and translate the President’s speech into dozens of languages in a matter of hours, making it more accessible to those with disabilities and in other countries across the globe.

Launching “Open Election 2012″

The event marks the launch of “Open Election 2012,” a new partnership  between Mozilla, PBS NEWSHOUR, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting  (CPB) and Participatory Culture Foundation.

Open Election 2012 will showcase how new open web technologies and citizen participation can make election coverage more accessible to diverse audiences, and provide new ways to engage with the news.

Adding context and interactivity with Mozilla Popcorn
Throughout the election, PBS NEWSHOUR will also use “Mozilla Popcorn,” a new HTML5 media tool Fast Company recently called “the future of online video.”

Popcorn makes it possible to pull other content and context from across the web right into the story, providing new ways for viewers to interact with video news.

Engaging and inspiring audiences
“It is part of the mission of public media to make our content available to everyone,” explained Hari Sreenivasan, Correspondent and Director of Digital Partnerships for PBS NEWSHOUR.

“From Chinese to Dutch, the speech translation is a true service for those for whom English is a second language and the hard of hearing. We hope to engage and inspire audiences too often forgotten.”

Learn more

Who owns “you” online?

There’s a battle going on for your online soul. 2012 will be a year where the good guys take some important steps forward in that battle.

Mitchell Baker and Ben Adidas posts on online identity and what Mozilla is doing to empower users are important reading for anyone who cares about where the web is headed.

As Mitchell notes, all of us are now creating and sharing more and more of our personal data online. This opens exciting possibilities, but also serious questions: How do you protect and empower yourself in the cloud? Who can you trust? And who ultimately owns the online version of “you?”

Who makes the rules? The architecture of “you”

You are valuable. Your online data, decisions and content are worth something to yourself and others. As thinkers like Ben Cerveny have pointed out, each of us leaves a trail behind us as we travel through the “luminous bath” that is the web. This data says something about you, leaving a set of footprints others can potentially follow. Your data is unique, and it has value.

So who makes the rules around how your data gets used? As Mitchell writes:

The ability of big data and cloud service providers to monitor, log, store, use, correlate and sell information about who we are and what we do has huge implications for society and for individuals.

Right now there’s no convenient way for me to share information about myself and maintain control over that information. I share information about myself by putting it someplace where someone else makes all the rules.

This is bigger than just Google and Facebook. The question of “who makes the rules” is a more fundamental question about the architecture of user data and the Internet itself.

This architecture boils down to some fundamental design questions about how your data is shared. Do you decide, setting the rules once, then pushing them out across your online experience? Or are you instead subject to a confusing mishmash of different rules for your data, each set by whatever application or service you happen to be using at the time?

Putting you at the center

Mozilla believes you need to be at the center of your online experience, with the option to store your data in the cloud and then set the rules for how it it accessed across the web. This means you get to set the rules, instead of other sites deciding for you. Mitchell writes:

To really help people with the way we use and share data today, Mozilla will need to offer people the choice of storing data in the cloud in a way that allows services to access it with your permission. This will be a new thing for Mozilla. It will involve new challenges.  It’s important that we take these on and address them well. If we develop an offering that handles user data in the cloud properly we will help ensure choice and user sovereignty in new areas of online life.

Identity that answers to no one but you

Concretely, as Ben Adidad explains, this means Mozilla will ramp up work on a host of “user-centric” (I think of them as “you-centric”) services this year, including an innovative approach to identity, a mobile web-based operating system, and an app store. As a non-profit answerable only to you, we’re in a unique position to take this on, without ulterior motives or fine print. Mitchell writes:

No other organization has both the ability to do something totally focused on user sovereignty rather than financial profit, and the ability to have wide impact. A Mozilla presence in the cloud will allow us to to fulfill our mission in important new areas of online life.

The web you deserve

A web that recognizes “you,” knows who you are, and can respond accordingly is an exciting thing — so long as you’re the one in control of the experience.

That requires a trusted, ideally non-profit broker to help you manage your identity and set the rules for your data — with no ulterior motives or fine print.

This is different than the “bait and switch” model that now seems common in the cloud, luring us in with shiny services and products, only to reveal hidden costs, nasty fine print, or a cavalier approach to our personal data down the road.

The web — and you — deserve better. I’m excited that Mozilla is leading that charge in 2012.