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Under the hood: OpenMedia’s Vision for an Open Internet and Open world

Get a glimpse under the hood at OpenMedia in our new blog series.

After a positive response to my Crowdsource This blog we decided we should spend a little more time sharing our strategies, principles and mode of operation at OpenMedia. So I’m happy to announce a new blog series called “Under the Hood.”

In upcoming blogs in the series I’ll share our strategic goals for the year(s) ahead, some of our unique inner workings, decision-making processes and organizational structure. Should be fun!

At times our civic engagement work can be overwhelming, but we try to never lose sight of the fact that our best ideas come from our supporters. So please, share your input and questions in the comments section, via email, Facebook, Twitter or even in this open Google Doc. All of our materials are living documents so don’t be shy.

To start off this series I’m going to share a vision statement I wrote with the OpenMedia team earlier this year. We wrote this out to help ground our work and guide our strategic discussions. I hope you like it and I look forward to hearing your feedback!

OpenMedia’s 2016/17 Vision Statement

Everyone is empowered through open, accessible, surveillance-free access to the Internet. Over time, and sometimes quite quickly, it’s possible for systems, organizations, and institutions to be transformed to embrace values of the web such as open participation, collaboration, and grassroots economic development.

We may be witnessing the early days of discovering new forms of engagement and democracy inspired by the possibilities of the open Internet. At the same time, outdated bureaucracies are working to impose their hierarchical business and governance models on technologies that are playing an increasingly important role in our daily lives.

We see this tension playing out around the world with the clash between government and industry bureaucracies versus networked communities. Big Telecom companies are trying to control online services to make the Internet more closed and expensive; Big Media companies are trying to restrict how we share culture and knowledge online; and governments are trying to impose new regimes of surveillance and censorship.

Left unchallenged, outdated government and business bureaucracies will turn the Internet from a tool that can be used to break down barriers, to a tool to censor, spy, and control from the top. Decisions made in the coming years will shape free expression online and indeed the basic tenets of a free society and what makes us human.

It’s time to decide if we’ll begin to operate more like the web with open, participatory, and collaborative values, or if we’ll end up with a world that is increasingly bureaucratic, hierarchical, and unfair.  

OpenMedia stands to play a decisive role in ensuring the values and practices of the web are reflected more broadly and deeply in our society. We likely represent the largest community of of civically engaged digital rights advocates in the world — with this comes responsibility and opportunity.

An emerging crowdsourced model

The Internet community has been swift to push forward new models of decision-making in unprecedented ways. At OpenMedia, we strive to utilize participatory and community-led processes – modeling the values that should govern government and commercial decision-making.

Going forward OpenMedia will help reimagine democracy by increasingly modeling what a web-infused world looks like through our campaign processes and operations. Internally, this means living into our core principles while trying our best to distribute leadership, minimize hierarchy, and operate based on the ‘advice process’ of Teal organizations and rough consensus.

Externally, this means mass mobilization maximizing community participation, stressing our commonality over differences, and crowdsourcing both campaign strategy and our policy positions.  We take legitimacy away from top-down, closed-door processes, through adopting a new level of participatory engagement.

OpenMedia is not a policy shop --  we make change through effective civic engagement projects -- we start with you rather than experts and insiders.  We run campaigns with tactics ranging from rapid response ‘show of hands’ actions, a series of advanced online tools and activities to amplify citizen voices, to substantive crowdsourced policy submissions.

We can’t just say no when hierarchies try to turn technology into a means of top-down control. We also have to embrace a new more collaborative mode of operation and articulate both our own crowdsourced positive vision and concrete policy changes.

Let’s remind ourselves that the open Internet lowers the transaction costs of collaboration making the world more malleable than before, and that we have a right to participate in decisions that affect our daily lives.

Building a network of networks

Whether it be the copyright provisions of international ‘trade’ agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, new surveillance regimes, or the increasing role of lobbyists in policy-making in general – many of the most critical incursions to Internet freedom take shape across borders.

Thankfully OpenMedia is not based in one place – we're from the Internet. We were founded on the rainy Vancouver coast of Canada, but our community has now grown to include supporters from almost every country on the planet.

We’re extremely grateful to enjoy broad international representation through our network of Internet users, advisors, consultants, donors, organizational collaborators and, in some areas, employees. We’re a small team but we strive to rally our global community wherever the open Internet is threatened, and work to ensure the internet is openly available wherever access is restricted or hindered.

OpenMedia will work to coalesce the organizations and advocates working for Internet freedom around the world into a growing network of networks. Each project will enable OpenMedia to connect with a wider and wider community of organizations and people working toward a collaborative economy, adding further weight to our collective voice.

A platform for empowerment

The threats to the open Internet do not stop at any particular border and we can’t ignore the interconnectedness of the issues. As the threats to the Internet mount and become more multifocal, connections in the Internet community must grow and become more distributed.

OpenMedia strives to provide an increasingly powerful platform to educate, engage, and empower those who believe in the importance of an open Internet and more a connected society. In fact, at our core OpenMedia is fundamentally an action platform and a content platform, both of which operate to amplify your voice for a more open Internet and society.  

We provide a community space where those who care about the open Internet and technology can stay informed and find tools to amplify their voices in key debates.  Going forward, OpenMedia will develop an international online toolkit to empower citizens and organizations working to safeguard the Internet around the world.  

Bureaucracies that wish to clamp down on the Internet are taking their initiatives to the global stage and so must we.

We are our community

Our work is driven by the needs and concerns of our networked community as a whole. We know one of our greatest assets is our creative ability to engage with people in new, deeper, and more authentic ways. This is our edge. We'll continue to work hard to deepen engagement with our community, better involve our Digital Action Team (DAT), and grow our international community.

We know the true magic of our work happens when we create the conditions for our community to organically build on our campaigns and make them their own.

Let’s work together around the world to ensure that the Internet remains an equally accessible tool, where we can all freely express ourselves without fear and share revolutionary ideas that have the potential to change millions of lives for the better.

I welcome input in the comments section, email, Facebook, Twitter or even in this open Google Doc.

Check out our other posts in this Under The Hood blog series:


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