Mozilla Webmaker: We Want You to Break Things

Mark Surman

When you think about it, the idea behind “view source” is incredible. Not only can you, with the click of a button, instantly reveal a site’s code; you can copy, paste, tweak and make that code into something all your own. In many ways, it’s this concept that helped make the Internet such a revolutionary tool in the first place. And it’s this idea that lives at the heart of an open source web culture.

It’s also the idea at the heart of Mozilla’s Webmaker project: to inspire people to make the web through remixing and building upon the work of others. We want as many people as possible to become webmakers—and to learn how to build the web by mucking around with code in a playful and exploratory way.

Webmaker started with a set of easy-to-use tools that allowed users to learn code and webmaking while creating great content. Our Thimble code editor allows users to see the changes they make to a web page in real-time, as they edit HTML—and highlights mistakes or broken code along the way. Our Popcorn Maker tool allows users to layer YouTube videos with other rich media and information—mixing content from Flickr, Wikipedia, Soundcloud, YouTube and more in one place. Our X-Ray goggles allow users to instantly view source on anything on the web. And along the way we built of a mentor community—a network of people around the world who are teaching the web through hands-on projects.

Now, we’re taking the Webmaker project to the next step—with a newly re-designed webmaker.org. The site now features:

  • A remix button for everything. All our tools are now equipped with a remix button. Like a view source button, this allows you to see the guts of a project, tweak it, and save it as something entirely your own.
  • A gallery of makes. The home page of webmaker.org is now entirely dedicated to showcasing what users have made, and the abundance of creativity that happens when you give users the tools to create.
  • Common Publishing. Users can now publish anything they’ve made with our tools all in one place.
  • User accounts. Every thing that a user has made is now connected to their unique user account. Just click on a user’s name to see all their projects.
  • Unique URLs and hosting. Each user gets to pick a unique domain, _______.makes.org, that’s connected to their user account. This domain is where they’ll host and display all their content.

That’s right, Mozilla has created a user-generated content site. We recognize that our users are at the helm of popular culture, and we’re dedicated to supporting them in a uniquely open source way. We believe creating content shouldn’t be formulaic, or restricted by the pre-existing rules of a platform. Instead we think it should be a process as free and creative as you, our users, are.

So now what?

Now that we’ve built it, it’s up to you to make good on our bet, and prove you’re just as creative as we think you are. We’ve framed up the structure, thrown open the doors and are now watching with pride and giddy anticipation as people start arriving with their paint brushes, knitting needles and cans of spray paint.

It’s no accident that we launched this new site at the same time as our Maker Party. This summer thousands around the world will be gathering to make amazing projects and, and share what they made with others. Our new site is the virtual place to do that: show off your creativity in our gallery. Remix something someone else has done. Create something from scratch and encourage others to remix it. Use our tools to do something we haven’t even dreamed was possible yet.

While you play, give us feedback. We’re still hammering away at a few loose nails, and just like everything on the web, we’re always improving and building upon what’s already there. This is the first time Mozilla’s dived into user-generated content. The site was built for you—so we’re counting on you to tell us, and help us make it into what you want it to be.

Consider this your invitation: Please stop by, make some art and hang it on our walls. Knock down some of our walls and help us build new ones. Tell us what you love, tell us what you need, tell us how we can make Webmaker even better. We’ll be hosting our “open house” for the next couple months, so come on in.

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