Digital Inclusion: Introduction

I’m looking for purpose.

It was when reading an article my dad sent me titled “16 ways to have the confidence of a concrete elephant” by Matt Anderson that I read confident people have a sense of purpose.

In order to gain that purpose individuals must answer the great old question “how can I make the biggest difference in the world?”

I took a moment to think through this question. I decided to first focus not on where I wanted to make a difference, but what I cared about. The most obvious thing that came to mind was the web. I care about this place online that provides a space for people around the world to connect, create and develop. It’s easy to see why the opportunities and outcomes are endless on the web, and is the reason I’ve been dedicated to fighting for a web that is open and accessible to people everywhere. I also deeply care about the people online; how they form, build and grow communities within networks related to their interests and motivations. I have spent the better part of the last 7 years working with online communities and understanding how to turn their interests and motivations into movements where they can have an impact.

The past two-something years at Mozilla has been fundamental to my learning about the issues I care about. Mozilla’s mission is to create an open, safe and accessible web and it does so with thousands of volunteer contributors that reside, literally, all over the world. I’ve been working on campaigns and programs that focus on helping individuals teach and learn web literacy; a term we’ve coined at Mozilla as the ability to read, write and participate on the web. It aligns with our belief that the more you know, the more you can do to contribute and build a better web. The intersection between my values and what I do at Mozilla couldn’t be a better fit.

It’s when looking at our community, the projects I’m working on and the web as a whole that I see a deep need for the understanding and practices around digital inclusion. I’m one of the many within Mozilla Foundation who openly meet and discuss how we can practice inclusion in our work. As communities online grow, we’re realizing that being inclusive is much harder to scale, especially if it’s within a diverse community that crosses many parts of the world. Digital Inclusion can be very hard; and if you are not purposely inclusive you often come off as non-inclusive to individuals without realizing it.

When thinking about how I can make a difference in the world, I’m increasing realizing that this is the space I want to working in. It’s a space that I deeply care about. It’s a space I want organizations and society to be better at. It’s a space that provokes emotions such as rage, frustration and persistence.

Someone once said that you have to find what makes you angry and devote yourself to that cause because when it gets hard, and it will, you will still be there.

The issues surrounding inclusion in the world, organizations and communities are what fuel my fire and where I want to make a difference in the world. I want to work in getting communities of all backgrounds and locations online, and I especially want to provide opportunities to those of various race, age and gender. I want to creates spaces that are open, safe and encouraging of a variety of backgrounds.

Here starts my path to purpose. Over the next few months (and beyond) I want to explore different areas of digital inclusion and how we, people and organizations, can practice inclusion for existing online communities as well as for the billions of people who will be coming online in the next few years for the first time.

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