Open. Participatory. Distributed. Hackable. Special.

I ran into Mark Surman this morning and he reminded me about the upcoming Mozilla Drumbeat event in Toronto on April 24, 2010. I like the Drumbeat events. Get everyday people who use the Internet and web technologies involved in new ways to understand participate and take control of their lives.

At a practical level, Drumbeat community members use web technology to make things that improve and protect the open internet. They run local events where people propose and work on these practical projects. They encourage others to get involved. Mozilla helps find contributors, funds and advice for the most promising Drumbeat projects. It also directly leads a number of Drumbeat projects of its own.

It’s all about making and building. Getting regular people to understand the impact and the potential the open web as a generative tool on lives, careers and information. It’s about taking the tools, methods and techniques developed through the collaborative development process used at Mozilla and extending it to help support the open web (it reminds me of the evolution of Mozilla as described by my friend David Eaves). Check out Mark’s blog posts about Drumbeat or his presentation below

What are potential Drumbeat projects?

Some of my favourites of the currently submitted projects include:

Universal Subtitles

Universal SubtitlesSubtitles bridge linguistic and physical barriers to video. Help create an open lookup standard that lets any video client find matching subtitles in online databases, along with free and open source tools to enable users to easily create subtitles and translations, a Firefox extension that will look up and display matching subtitles, and an open community subtitle database.

Privacy Icons

This project has a very simple goal: to develop a series of graphical and machine- readable privacy icons that companies can use to convey important elements of their privacy policy to users and that developers can build applications on top of to enable users to make choices based on the disclosures in the policies.

You should check out the projects. Think about how you might get involved. And more importantly, who are those people that are peripheral to our little web technology community that you know that should be participating? Open government folks? Media company people? Real estate technologists? Teachers? Artists? Share Drumbeat with them. Invite them to join you. Invite them to participate.