The Mozilla Manifesto: Looking Ahead

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When the Mozilla Manifesto was drafted five years ago to better define the principles of our project, we started by noting that the Internet “is becoming an increasingly important part of our lives.” Fast-forward to today and the Internet seems more ingrained in our lives than ever. As we look ahead to where the Web is going, and consider all the challenges that could arise, now is a good time to reexamine the Manifesto’s applications both inside and outside the organization to ensure it stands the test of time.

In a series of ten blog posts, we’re going to look at each of the Manifesto’s ten principles individually. Our goal is to create an open dialog with our community to explore what the Manifesto means to each of us. In combination with the online discussion through our Community blog, we will host in-person sessions at the MozCamps and MozFestival this fall. We want to ensure the Manifesto reflects our community’s values and can inform our stance on policy issues that may determine the future of the Internet globally.

The Internet’s role in society

The first principle in the Manifesto states, “The Internet is an integral part of modern life–a key component in education, communication, collaboration, business, entertainment and society as a whole.”

Let’s kick off the discussion with what we believe to be an important debate: if the Internet is a key component in society as a whole, is there a natural tension between the importance of public benefit (i.e., the Internet as a public resource for society) and Mozilla’s philosophy of individual sovereignty?

Individual sovereignty has benefits because the principle is globally extensible while remaining consistent. However, ways of interpreting public benefit or a view of the Internet as a public utility will be approached quite differently around the world. For example, a country may make rules that limit individual sovereignty on the Internet and justify it by saying that they provide the greatest collective public benefit. Indeed, public resources by their very nature are regulated and controlled by government decision makers.

Can we find a way for the two concepts to live side by side? Do we want to?

Will it be Mozilla’s role in 2013 and beyond to define the greater good of the Internet for society or to be the champion of individual users’ destinies?

Please share your feedback in the comments section and keep coming back to continue the discussion with us (we’ll be tagging each post in the “Manifesto” category).

3 responses

  1. Gervase Markham wrote on ::

    Indeed, public resources by their very nature are regulated and controlled by government decision makers.

    Depending on what you mean by “public resources”, this is either a tautology or false by observation. There are many countries where many public resources are not regulated and controlled by government. In fact, there are today some countries without functional government – but their people still have shared resources which they have to manage.

    The idea that individual liberty and the collective good of society are somehow at odds with one another is one which is only shared by some sections of the political spectrum. It cannot be taken as foundational for discussion, as you seem to be by the way you pose your questions in the penultimate two paragraphs.

    Society is made up of individuals; if we seek to benefit each of them, and succeed, then society as a whole benefits. Problems arise when you seek, by coercion, to take from one set of individuals and give to another – you then have to decide whether such coercion is morally legitimate, which (for some people) may involve looking at the cost to the first group and the benefit to the second. But Mozilla is not in the business of taking from group A to give to group B; we give our software and services away freely to everyone, without depriving anyone of anything. This is the wonder of being in the market of producing non-tangible goods :-) So there is no need to set the good of society against the good of individuals.

    So I’d say that Mozilla promotes the greater good of society by benefitting individuals.

  2. Fredy Rouge wrote on ::

    Hi, before speak about manifesto i have some ideas about his place in the web and about the presentation of mozilla, this is my first post

  3. Fredy Rouge wrote on ::

    Hi, before speak about manifesto i have some ideas about his place in the web and about the presentation of mozilla, this is my first post: http://fredyrouge.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/mozilla-manifesto-1