I think that with the whole #Mozilla fiasco, we're just witnessing once more the limit of the green/open/fair/inclusive discourse when it is essentially used as a smoke screen for commercial activities. For many years now Mozilla has used the model of running a non-profit org in front of their for-profit company. It's quite well documented and as such is not a surprising model, it is used by corporations to interface with different audiences, contexts, etc. There is however always a risk of cognitive dissonance with these models, and this is clear with Mozilla's PR right now, stuck between financial priorities and the need to maintain their image of social justice endorsers they have been working hard to promote until now.
In practice, even though they are often pitched one against the other, I see little difference between the marketing strategies used by #Google
and Mozilla. And why should they be? They both come from the same context, they are part of the same dominant tech infrastructure, and they have used the same tricks to appeal to wide audience, build upon participatory and unpaid labour, and are constantly trying new, sometimes short lived, products to try to expand their market. It does not matter that Mozilla was presenting itself as defender of the open web when free culture was peaking, or was saying its #browser was organic in the early days of food industry critique, or presented itself as a privacy safe harbour in post-Snowden times, or positioned its
community as inclusive and diverse more recently. It still remains a black box that needs to survive following the same logic and principles as any other tech company, specially if it is one that is not necessarily in the most powerful position and depends on the wealth of its competitors to provide most of its earning (basically whoever is paying Mozilla to be the default search engine).
To be sure, I don't want to make it sound like Google or others are any better, but I just want to emphasize that we keep on being sold the same product, the same culture. It's just the packaging that changes, that's all. It also does not mean that what these companies are producing are systematically crap or should be dismissed. But it's unfortunate to realise that the good stuff is impossible to decouple from the crap, specially in an age where surveillance capitalism has been shaping the offering for the worse.
There has been several threads about the possibility of turning Mozilla into a #coop and I think that trying to imagine other modes of production, and dissemination of something as ubiquitous as the web browser is very important. In the most recent years there has been a growing concern that it has became impossible to enter this space given how complex the technical, economical and political landscape around such applications is. But what is presented is often an extreme scenario: giant companies on one side, and small projects lead by single or few devs on the other side. These small efforts are important and deserve attention, but surely there can be other options between these two opposites? Concretely, how many persons do you need to develop, maintain and support a web browser and its community? How much money is necessary for that? What kind of revenue model can be put in place to make it happen? How many paying patrons/supporters/subscribers would be needed to keep it affordable or free?
>European countries should invest !
when I did work experience at British Telecom in 1987, this old engineer who was also the CWU union activist quietly told me that was exactly what had been intended to happen with Viewdata (existing networks were meant to be linked across UK, FR, DE, NL and others and delivered over ISDN) but Thatcho had refused to fund the project as BT had been part privatised; so already an opportunity to do this was lost 33 years ago...
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