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I’ve had the great privilege to work at Mozilla for about 2.5 years now, and time after time there are some things which always stand out:

  • Distributed nature is our strength
  • Passionate people make great things happen
  • We are global, yet think, and do what’s right at the locale level
  • We are deliberate

People will tell you with no surprise, this is the kind of backbone and success of open and decentralized organizations. But I will tell you, unless you’ve experienced the possibilities in action, and worked with such a team to truly create, its hard to appreciate what this kind of dedication and commitment is all about.

A current example is Mozilla’s Open to Choice campaign, whereby scores of people are coming together from across Europe intent on informing and educating people about the importance of the Web browser, and why that informed choice matters. The campaign sets out to help tens of millions of Europeans who are currently experiencing the Microsoft Browser Choice screen, an initiative from Microsoft which gives Internet Explorer users the opportunity to choose their own Web browser. So far together Mozilla has –

Our campaign is on going, but at this stage I would like to call out some heartfelt thanks to the Mozilla teams, and our ever present wider community including: Members of the Mozilla Marketing community who have already done so much to share and spread browser choice in Europe. Our design community who helped create web site and campaign assets. And a special thanks goes to *all* the l10n teams who worked tirelessly, burning much midnight oil to get the campaign site live in 15 locales. Plus, to many friends and partners of Mozilla who are also making this campaign possible, a heartfelt thanks to you.

Patrick Finch also has a blog post thanking everyone who worked on the Browser Choice screen for Mozilla.

I’ve said this at least 50 times in the last few weeks, but I’ll say it again here – working on a project such Open to Choice, which has so much importance, to so many people, created by so many committed individuals — is a true inspiration. There’s no doubt in my mind that informing millions of people about the importance of browser, and Web choice is exactly the right thing to do. And that’s what we’ll keep doing!

In the tech space right now you can’t have missed the news about the EC and Microsoft’s landmark settlement, and the Browser Choice screen. Its a historic first step in placing choice directly in the hands of the user. But it is just that, a “first step”.

Creating choice, and advocating for it has been integral to the Mozilla mission since its inception (you will recall going back to a time when there wasn’t another solid browser choice to IE). But choice is nothing if you haven’t been able to learn about the options, and therefore ultimately make a decision that’s right for you.

Last week in association with YouGov in the UK, Mozilla commissioned a survey which concluded 77% of Britons did not know the Browser Choice screen was coming, and that they would soon be asked to choose their browser. So what’s the good of choice if (i) no-one knows there is one and (ii) what’s the right choice for them?

If you’re reading my blog via the Mozilla planet blog, it goes without saying that you understand the implications of the choices you make online, and I bet you’ve been bent on helping those around you understand this for many years. You’re tech savvy and web smart — but how does that lady in the next town from you learn more about why choice matters online? How will she learn why her browser is so important to her online experience, and how will she then make the right choice for herself when the times comes?

Its clear much, much more needs to be done to help citizens understand the online choices which are available, and their implications for the individual and the Web. Everyone should have the right to make an informed choice which is best for them.

I’m proud to be part of Mozilla, who has chosen a path to educate people about the Browser Choice Screen. We started our campaign with an Open Letter from John Lilly (Mozilla CEO) and Mitchell Baker (Mozilla Chair), calling for wider discussion around Web choice and in particular the Browser Choice screen.

I believe we all – as individual custodians of the Web, (and just darn nice people!) that it’s our obligation to make sure more people know how best to choose for themselves. In the case of the Browser Choice screen, it doesn’t matter to me which browser is chosen, or if a decision is made not to make a choice. But it is important to know how a choice of browser affects one’s experience online, and that its important a decision to based on a person’s individual needs, and belief.

What can you do?

  • If you’re a journalist – I urge you to write about the browser choice screen, and help your readers make an informed choice. Provide the facts and raise awareness, you have their ears.
  • If you are a blogger and Internet commentator, also please inform your fans and readers. Everything you can do to help people educate themselves, will ultimately better serve the Web.
  • If you’re an individual who has already made your browser choice,  please help educate someone in your school, office and family to make theirs.

opentochoice.org has been started by Mozilla as a place to learn and discuss online choice. Browser choice is simply the beginning, much more needs to happen to ensure Web users are fully in control of their online lives, and can make choices which best serve their needs. Join us there.

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