One of the top goals of Mozilla is to give more people more control over their on-line lives. At Mozilla, we’re passionate about the Web, but like every tool, it can be used in positive ways, but also less beneficial ways.
So how does Mozilla empower users? There are many ways, and the most obvious is Firefox. With hundreds of millions of copies of Firefox used each month, the values we put in Firefox positively influence and empower our users. We protect them by fixing security bugs as quickly as we can, by preventing phishing and telling our users when they’re about to visit rogue sites. I won’t get into many details for now, but you get the idea.
It does not stop here. Douglas Rushkoff, explains it very clearly:
When we gained literacy, we learned not just how to read but to write. And as we now moved into an increasingly digital reality, we must learn not just how to use programs but how to make them.
Mozilla does not want to train each and every Web user into a developer, but we certainly think that everyone would benefit from understanding better how the Web works. Mozilla Foundation’s executive Director, Mark Surman, has been doing a lot of work on this topic, and I encourage everyone to read his Mozilla Learning Proposal .
For now, I’ll just on a very simple Firefox add-on named Collusion, whose promise is to help you discover who’s tracking you on-line. As we hear about “on-line privacy breaches” horror stories on a daily basis, most of us have no idea of who’s tracking us on the Web. Collusion is a very easy way to visualize who’s tracking us. I’m using it myself, and here is what is shows after I’ve visited a dozen of sites while working on this article:
Each circle represents a Website. Sites with a halo are sites that I have visited. Sites in gray are sites that I have not visited. A line from one to the other means that the former site has set one or more third-party cookies to inform the latter site about my visit.
I encourage you to install Collusion (no need to restart Firefox for this) and give it a try. Then browser the Web as you would normally, and you’ll see that many Websites that you do not visit can track you. Not feeling like installing an add-on? Just check out the Collusion demo.
This is just an example of what Mozilla does to make people more aware of how things work on the Web. Interested in learning more? You may want to visit Hackasaurus.org, a program to “build a generation of web makers”. I’ve already written about the folks behind it, it’s an amazing initiative…