I didn’t think I was that important. I’m just one small part of one small space in one small corner of the world. I never realized the work I do was helping to build a healthier internet. Those ideals were too lofty for my thinking and action. But the Mozilla Open Leaders Project changed that perspective.
For the past 14 weeks I’ve been working on a Mozilla Open Leaders project in Round 6, with Cohort D. The project focused on supporting the Virtually Connecting community in the work we all voluntarily do, as a global grassroots group organizing to bring voices into conversations where and when barriers prevent participation and access. So in a small way, I was offering my gift of time and attention to build a better internet, in collaboration with others, specifically Wendy Taleo, Nate Angell, and Rebecca Hogue.
At the end of the project there are some insights to share.
First, everything you or I say and do on the internet is either one small step to make it better, or one small block to build barriers for others. It’s my responsibility to make sure I’m not putting blocks in places where they don’t need to be. I have a responsibility to look closely to where barriers should be removed. It’s my responsibility to be hospitable in my actions on the internet.
Second, there’s a code of conduct inherent in the work we should do on the internet. Every Moz meeting started with a review of the code of conduct. I respected the time and effort it took to make sure these were understood and followed. This can be extended into understandings about digital citizenship or civil discourse, but without some sort of ground rules that are understood and abided by, there can be no better internet. Our words, actions and treatment of others requires a sense of the humanity of others in these spaces or the whole thing will devolve into negative space and chaos. My kindnesses and hospitality, in small ways, can build a healthier internet, one word or digital piece of work at a time.
Third, there are people like me in every corner of every small space in every part of this world. The Mozilla Open Leaders, with mentors and open project leaders (divided into five cohorts), was truly an opportunity to get to meet some of those individuals who would otherwise toil in anonymity, without recognition, without encouragement or support. Individually we’d all continue to try to build a better internet but together we can support each other while we’re doing it. It was amazing to hear the voices of individuals about their work, some of this being done in places where basic human rights may not be recognized, but where these brave individuals are working, on their own, to build a better internet. All projects are described and project leads are identified in this open listing:
- Cohort A – 21 projects: final project presentations are described
- Cohort B – 18 projects: final project presentations are described
- Cohort C – 16 projects: final project presentations are described
- Cohort D – 12 projects: final project presentations are described
- Cohort E – 15 projects
Each of these projects is worth a closer look. Each one is led by individual people working toward building a healthier, safer, more open internet through technical or cultural initiatives. The listing is truly global in scope. Use this listing to see what others are doing in their own small pockets of the world. It is an eye-opener and a way to join in – there are open invitations to collaborate with any one of these projects, since Moz Open Leaders is only the beginning for most of them.
So, now that the Mozilla Open Leaders project is completed, what’s next? The work we’ve accomplished for the Virtually Connecting community will continue, maybe not in such a concerted or structured way, but it will open conversations about the work we do as a community. Conversations about hospitality, reciprocity, roles, and processes are only starting.
There will be new connections to continue to nurture, in new spaces and places to continue to explore. One of these is GitHub. This was the first time I used this digital resource and there is so much more to learn. For many of these projects, I’ll only be an observer or catalyst, since the projects are well out of my comfort zone or areas of interest. For others there may opportunities to build stronger ties and connections.
I encourage you to take a peak at the projects yourself. They are posted and linked above. Each cohort presented their projects to each other in a final Zoom meeting that was held this past week and the links are posted above. I’m sharing a few of the ones that caught my attention:
- Equity Unbound: Equity-Focused, Open, Connected, Intercultural Learning — Maha Bali, Catherine Cronin, Mia Zamora
- Creative Learning Zines — Saskia Leggett
- VRstorygram: Community Environment in Virtual Reality — Heather N. Stone
- Jandig — Angelo Pixel, Heloise Cullen
- Swipes for Science — Anisha Keshavan
- Yale Privacy Lab — Sean O’Brien
For those looking for a way to help build a healthier internet, get involved in something meaningful, or just learn more about internet related tools and processes, this is a great way to engage. Most projects are asking and actively seeking supporters for the work they are doing. If you’ve got talent, time, energy, interest, or just want to learn along with others in some meaningful work, here’s your invitation. Jump in, introduce yourself since Twitter handles and GitHub links are included in the project information.
Why not do something from your small part of the world to build a better internet, share a positive message, and connect with others.
You’re not in this alone. You’re not just one small part of one small space in one small corner of the world. Get involved, get connected, get building a better internet!
Featured image: Photo by Elaine Casap on Unsplash
Apartment building image: https://unsplash.com/photos/Sq7WPOjHGDs