Mozilla knows it is part of a social movement

So I while back I wrote that the open web is a social movement. The post generated a fair number of pingbacks and emails as well as a few comments. Some people wondered – is the open web a social movement? Is Mozilla part of a social movement? I sense… there may still be doubters.

Today, I bring tantalizing evidence that the open web is indeed a social movement and that Mozilla is actively promoting its growth.

As part of the “party packs” shipped out to people who volunteered to host Firefox 3 launch parties Mozilla included these bad boys:

The Mozilla Cause Bracelet

The Mozilla Cause Bracelet

The rubber bracelet is the sine qua non ingredient for any well known (and sometimes less well known) social movement. For example (or for those not up to date on your rubber bracelet colours) white bracelets = make poverty history, yellow bracelets = livestrong.

The rubber bracelet is THE symbol of a social movement. Hip movements have them, emerging movements want them, and to be clear, non-social movements look silly with them. Although there is no rule preventing it, when was the last time you saw someone sporting a wristband in support of “make mircosoft (more!) profitable” or “re-make the breakfast club.”

And so I thought it was curious that Mozilla handed out wristbands – not advertising the launch of Firefox 3, or even saying “Support Mozilla.” Instead, orange wristbands = support the Open Web – Mozilla.

Remind me again. How is the open web not a social value? And how are its wristband sporting supporters not part of a movement?

14 thoughts on “Mozilla knows it is part of a social movement

  1. Jodie

    “The rubber bracelet is THE symbol of a social movement.”

    I get your drift here… and am excited about the indication… but rubber bracelets are not THE symbol of a social movement. Social movements must run much deeper than bracelets and email lists if they are to realize a fundamental shift in power.

    Reply
  2. Mike Beltzner

    I’m not sure I disagree with your conclusion, but I don’t think it’s supported by the presence of bracelets; I also don’t know if a bracelet makes a social movement. I think Jodie’s right on the money, there.

    The bracelets were made as part of a Mozilla Developer Day event IIRC, and we had a lot of extras, and have been handing them out at events ever since. Supporting open standards and the open web is obviously something that’s important to Mozilla, and I believe the intent of the bracelets was a to provide a fun way for developers to show solidarity.

    Mostly, though, I think saying that the Open Web is a social movement *because* we have bracelets is a little insulting to all of the other efforts underway. Bracelets are advertising and awareness tools; one hopes that seeing someone wearing the bracelet will spur questions and their answers, or allow people involved to more readily identify their involvement. Social movements like the open web are built on action.

    I’d rather see you discussing the Open Web movement in terms of actions and benefits than in terms of how we’re at the same level of “Live Strong” publicity gimmicks.

    Reply
  3. Jodie

    “The rubber bracelet is THE symbol of a social movement.” I get your drift here… and am excited about the indication… but rubber bracelets are not THE symbol of a social movement. Social movements must run much deeper than bracelets and email lists if they are to realize a fundamental shift in power.

    Reply
  4. robcee

    Remind me again. How is the open web not a social value? And how are its wristband sporting supporters not part of a movement?

    The bracelets are marketing swag. They were fun for a day, but after thinking about them for a bit, they reminded me that people who were wearing yellow bracelets were wearing them for a serious reason and it felt cheap. Stephen Colbert is the latest person to lampoon the whole “bracelet wearing thing” — It’s been co-opted by all kinds of people for whatever cause is popular today. If you can think of a charity, they probably have a bracelet and wearing one is often easier than donating time or money.

    See also, “Support our…” stickers.

    Also, while I’m being a grumpy mozillian, I’ll just say a couple of things about the open web as a social movement, I would argue that it’s really more of a technological ideal. Sure, I will complain to companies that create non-standards-based websites that make it difficult or impossible for me to use their service in standards-based web-browsers, but I don’t normally see organized crowds of people protesting unfair web-sites in the streets. Except during Mozilla summits, anyway.

    Reply
  5. Mike Beltzner

    I’m not sure I disagree with your conclusion, but I don’t think it’s supported by the presence of bracelets; I also don’t know if a bracelet makes a social movement. I think Jodie’s right on the money, there.The bracelets were made as part of a Mozilla Developer Day event IIRC, and we had a lot of extras, and have been handing them out at events ever since. Supporting open standards and the open web is obviously something that’s important to Mozilla, and I believe the intent of the bracelets was a to provide a fun way for developers to show solidarity.Mostly, though, I think saying that the Open Web is a social movement *because* we have bracelets is a little insulting to all of the other efforts underway. Bracelets are advertising and awareness tools; one hopes that seeing someone wearing the bracelet will spur questions and their answers, or allow people involved to more readily identify their involvement. Social movements like the open web are built on action.I’d rather see you discussing the Open Web movement in terms of actions and benefits than in terms of how we’re at the same level of “Live Strong” publicity gimmicks.

    Reply
  6. David Eaves Post author

    So this post was written with my tongue somewhat firmly in cheek. Obviously a rubber bracelet a social movement does not make. Nor do orange bracelets transform the open web into a social movement.

    Rubber bracelets have, however, become a recognizable way to promote a social value (which is why Colbert is able to ridicule it in the first place). In this way they are marketing schwag – but they are schwag that is generally used by – and that speak to those who champion and believe in a certain social agenda. Here’s an example of someone who’s armband means just that to them.

    The bigger piece is that people are connecting to something beyond technology. Does this help us take action? I’m not sure – but it may be that the pool of people who care could be significantly, depending on how we frame the challenge.

    Reply
  7. robcee

    Remind me again. How is the open web not a social value? And how are its wristband sporting supporters not part of a movement?

    The bracelets are marketing swag. They were fun for a day, but after thinking about them for a bit, they reminded me that people who were wearing yellow bracelets were wearing them for a serious reason and it felt cheap. Stephen Colbert is the latest person to lampoon the whole “bracelet wearing thing” — It’s been co-opted by all kinds of people for whatever cause is popular today. If you can think of a charity, they probably have a bracelet and wearing one is often easier than donating time or money.See also, “Support our…” stickers.Also, while I’m being a grumpy mozillian, I’ll just say a couple of things about the open web as a social movement, I would argue that it’s really more of a technological ideal. Sure, I will complain to companies that create non-standards-based websites that make it difficult or impossible for me to use their service in standards-based web-browsers, but I don’t normally see organized crowds of people protesting unfair web-sites in the streets. Except during Mozilla summits, anyway.

    Reply
  8. David Eaves

    So this post was written with my tongue somewhat firmly in cheek. Obviously a rubber bracelet a social movement does not make. Nor do orange bracelets transform the open web into a social movement. Rubber bracelets have, however, become a recognizable way to promote a social value (which is why Colbert is able to ridicule it in the first place). In this way they are marketing schwag – but they are schwag that is generally used by – and that speak to those who champion and believe in a certain social agenda. Here’s < href=http://daveman692.livejournal.com/335417.html>an example of someone who’s armband means just that to them.The bigger piece is that people are connecting to something beyond technology. Does this help us take action? I’m not sure – but it may be that the pool of people who care could be significantly, depending on how we frame the challenge.

    Reply
  9. Mike Beltzner

    Wow, I didn’t at all catch your tone of irony; apologies for the somewhat serious response.

    I actually see the Open Web as an ideology and philosophy, that by keeping these technologies open we have a chance to build a non-controlled, non-proprietary, dynamic system that can evolve and react to change differently than any other organizational system that exists outside of nature.

    I disagree with Rob that the Open Web is purely a technical concern, as the sociological impacts are far-reaching, perhaps moreso than the technological ones. I think that it’s the illustration of those impacts that observers and analysts like yourself can make clearer.

    Reply
  10. Mike Beltzner

    Wow, I didn’t at all catch your tone of irony; apologies for the somewhat serious response.I actually see the Open Web as an ideology and philosophy, that by keeping these technologies open we have a chance to build a non-controlled, non-proprietary, dynamic system that can evolve and react to change differently than any other organizational system that exists outside of nature.I disagree with Rob that the Open Web is purely a technical concern, as the sociological impacts are far-reaching, perhaps moreso than the technological ones. I think that it’s the illustration of those impacts that observers and analysts like yourself can make clearer.

    Reply
  11. Jeremy Vernon

    I think any social movement has come into its own when it attracts slacktivism trappings like the gel-bracelets.

    They are supposed to be, in effect, flags to designate your awareness and support for a given issue. Of course as the colour-coding becomes increasingly diluted things either become meaningless or devolve into the convoluted minutia of a hanky-code style system.

    That said, I wear mine so people ask me what it’s about – giving me an in to talk about the open web. They are a conversation starter – and a bracelet that doesn’t have the conversation proverbially attached isn’t going to do anything; that’s why they’ve stuck to causes.

    I think, perhaps the biggest impediment to people considering the “open web” a social movement is the obscurity of the topic in most people’s understanding – which is a cultural thing. Everybody knows what AIDS is and where Africa is; it’s not a problem that needs elaboration or proving.

    “I support the open web” sounds to most people like, “I support mittens, kittens and brown paper wrapping” – nice, but there’s no implied call to action. People can deduce how to support Diabetes (donate to a charity), they don’t necessarily know how to support the open web (unless they do so by accident via downloading FireFox.)

    Reply
  12. Jeremy Vernon

    I think any social movement has come into its own when it attracts slacktivism trappings like the gel-bracelets.They are supposed to be, in effect, flags to designate your awareness and support for a given issue. Of course as the colour-coding becomes increasingly diluted things either become meaningless or devolve into the convoluted minutia of a hanky-code style system.That said, I wear mine so people ask me what it’s about – giving me an in to talk about the open web. They are a conversation starter – and a bracelet that doesn’t have the conversation proverbially attached isn’t going to do anything; that’s why they’ve stuck to causes.I think, perhaps the biggest impediment to people considering the “open web” a social movement is the obscurity of the topic in most people’s understanding – which is a cultural thing. Everybody knows what AIDS is and where Africa is; it’s not a problem that needs elaboration or proving.”I support the open web” sounds to most people like, “I support mittens, kittens and brown paper wrapping” – nice, but there’s no implied call to action. People can deduce how to support Diabetes (donate to a charity), they don’t necessarily know how to support the open web (unless they do so by accident via downloading FireFox.)

    Reply
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