Mozilla Foundation ending its web literacy work

Tired red panda

From an email blast sent to those involved in Mozilla’s education work:

Mozilla Foundation will be ending all staff support for the Mozilla Hive and Mozilla Clubs initiatives by December 31, 2017. While we remain active in web literacy work through fellowships, research, and curriculum, we will no longer directly run local, on-the-ground web literacy programs. These changes will happen over the course of the coming year.

I had the privilege of being Mozilla’s Web Literacy Lead until 2015, and took their Web Literacy Map work up to version 1.5, thanks to the help of a wonderful community of contributors. The work continued through the Mozilla Clubs after I left for the world of consultancy. All of the curriculum and related materials can be found in this GitHub repository.

Chris Lawrence, until recently VP of the Mozilla Leadership Network, and my former boss, has written a blog post about Mozilla’s decision:

But unlike the promise of a digital utopia that existed when we entered this work, when the Internet seemed like a grand path to greater participation and engagement, we now have seen the pendulum swing decidedly towards a dystopian narrative where surveillance, ever-connected devices, and pipelines of propaganda dominate. Of course, both and neither are completely true, and the binary choice further divides us and blocks thoughtful solutions from emerging. We are so excited about the Internet health framework because, like all ecosystems, the Internet is best understood when you realize that aspects can be both sick and healthy and need all of us to help tip the balance to health. To do this, Mozilla’s attention needs to be on a more immediate and bigger set of fights. We need to use our assets — our brand, our megaphone, our global community, our money — to confront those challenges head-on.

I think another story can be told. One about politics and egos, of ‘missed opportunities’ and grant funding; and certainly of ways in which organisations should treat their community volunteers. But that’s a story to tell another time — preferably while nursing a drink. I’m happy to reminisce about a time in my life when, certain personalities aside, I can truly say I worked with some of the most talented people I’ve ever met.

Thankfully, open stuff never dies. It forms the coral reef for the next generation of activity and action. I’m pleased to say that’s already been happening through We Are Open, a co-operative I formed with former Mozilla colleagues and friends. I’m also looking forward to leading Moodle’s work on a new project which, because it’s not grant-funded, hopefully won’t be subject to the same mis-steps as Mozilla’s work.

So this post is a farewell to Webmaker and Mozilla’s Web Literacy work. I have fond memories.

Image CC0 Mathias Appel