Posted on November 30, 2011 in Uncategorized by adamNo Comments »

I follow Mark Surman on Twitter and it was there that I learned about his Web Maker ideas for MoFo. He has posted a 30 minute slidecast of the plans for 2012 on his blog; go watch it. I’ll wait.

I haven’t had something ‘click’ this strongly in a while and its only just occurred to me why — if the community of Web Makers is wide and broad enough, the openness of the web is more assured than if only the ‘geeks’ of the know how to run the web.

If everyone understands the basics of markup (X-Ray Goggles) and can make interactive sites without the use of expensive, proprietary frameworks (Popcorn.js) then things like citizen journalism become possible and the effectiveness of [stupid, inane] things like national firewalls and clueless politicians (Mozilla vs. SOPA) is greatly reduced.
I’ve been on the side of ‘open’ for years. I’m just as the right age where Linux and Open Source became viable alternatives when I was most capable of learning them and so have very strong Open Source Anarchist tendencies (I won’t write for places that have registration or paywalls for instance and will not be taking any presenting gigs at conferences that do not make the proceedings freely available as well). Information really does want to be free — contrary to ‘well intentioned’ governments or corporate entities.

But I think the badges is where things have the greatest potential though. [As much as I dislike the word ‘gamification’,] I suspect badges are a powerful meme for encouraging the generation of Makers; those who are 8 – 15 years old now. Not being a Gamer I wasn’t sure on the idea until ‘badge night’ at Cubs the other week. (I’m now the Akela-equivilant for our Pack.) Badges, or more specifically receiving badges, is a huge motivator. Badges are a self-perpetuating cycle. Once one gets a particular badge then others are motivated to also get that badge. And there is often one (or two) kids that self-motivates to find new badges they can get which keeps the cycle intact.

The Badge backpack also has the potential to be a type of ‘team jacket’. At least around here, when a kid makes it onto a Rep sports team the parents are told of the registration and tournament fees. And once they pick their jaw off the floor they are also told about the other ‘optional’ fees — like team jacket and bag. Though these are ‘optional’ they are really ‘mandatory’ as every kid wants to go to school in the jacket that announces them as a Chief (baseball), Warrior (Lacrosse), Iroquois (Soccer) or Wolf (Hockey). If the backpack can be embedded into their ‘place’ on the web easily (through the skills learned with X-Ray Googles) and isn’t forgeable (though all credit to the kids who eventually figure out how to) then it can be a competition to have the most complete backpack.

The Web succeeded because it was open. If it is to remain open we need the next generation to be Web Makers just as the current generation of leadership were Infrastructure Makers.