Trying out a vision statement for the Planet Friendly Web Guide

As I mentioned before, I’m part of the Mozilla Open Leadership programme as a Open Project Lead. In this blog, I’ll write a bit getting the vision statement together, and the thinking behind it.

First, here’s the statement as of 13th September

The Planet Friendly Web Guide: I’m working with web professionals, campaigners, and academics, to build tools and information resources for web professionals so that they can understand and radically reduce the environmental impact of the web

About the structure

You might notice the structure. I’m deliberately following the structure as outlined here in the Open Leaders Training guide:

I’m working with [community, allies, contributors] to [make, build, teach, or do something] so that [audience, end users, consumers, community members] can [do something different, achieve a goal]

It follows a familiar mad-libs format, much like coming up with problem statements, or similar when building digital products. I’ve taken clients through this same process for project kickoff workshops, with a few slight changes.

In more detail

I’ll unpack this a bit, and explain the parts that were emphasised in the initial vision statement.

Web professionals, campaigners, and academics

I’m initially aiming this at people who’ve I’ve delivered talks to and been able to convince to come to meetups I’ve run before. If I can’t get some of them on board, I have no chance of getting this off the ground at all.

Build tools and information resources for web professionals

One thing I’ve learned from looking at other organisations is that while it’s useful to just share information or some kind of easy to consume info product (books, courses etc), having tools to validate and help to work towards a stated goal allow a set of best practices to be built into a workflow, so it happens by default.

You see this with continuous integration pipelines, and in web performance budgets, and some agile working practices, all of which are designed to surface problems as early as possible, and variation away from an ideal state.

Understand and radically reduce the environmental impact of the web

We have a finite carbon budget for the planet if we want to stay inside safe limits for living in. The amount of change to how we live and work we need to stay within two degrees of climate change is going to need to be breathtaking – it’ll need to change pretty much every industry we can think of, including the web.

Right now, that IT has the same footprint as aviation, and is growing around twice as fast is barely registering among most people building the systems that will be built to replace the current ones we rely on.

If you don’t know how IT plays a part in contributing CO2 emissions leading to climate change your chances of reducing the negative impact is has will fall drastically.

Is this clear? How could this be clearer?

Right now, I’m expecting to start this project with taking the research I’ve been doing and putting into talks, and arrange it into a book or guide of some kind, but the end goal would to make it possible some way to automate this process – i.e. creating a tool to allow you to check a site against a set of criteria much like how linters and validators work (i.e. Lighthouse for progressive web apps, ecograder for single pages, and so on).

That hopefully should give some more context to it, but as ever, I’d love to hear back to see where or how it can be clearer.

As ever, if you’re interested in finding out a bit more about the project and my progress on it, I’ve set up a mailing list to make it easy to stay up to date, at planetfriendly.productscience.co.uk.