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Mark Surman


Mark Surman is in the business of connecting things: people, ideas, everything. A community technology activist for almost 20 years, Mark is currently the executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, with a focus on inventing new ways to promote openness and opportunity on the Internet. On the side, Mark convenes conversations about 'open everything' in his home town of Toronto and around the world.

Before joining Mozilla, Mark was an open philanthropy fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation in South Africa, he invented new ways to apply open source thinking to social innovation. Earlier, he was the founding director of telecentre.org, a $26 million effort to network community technology activists in countries around the world. Mark has also served as president of the Commons Group, Director of Content and Community at Web Networks and senior advisor to the Volunteer @ction Online grants program team. Mark's first real job was training social activists to make their own documentaries in the early 1990s.

Mark's biggest fetishes are community, conversation and collaboration. He has facilitated over three dozen participatory workshops and unconferences, including Open Everything, Hollyhock's Web of Change, CopyCamp, PenguinDay.ca and countless telecentre.org events. "Passionate conversation," says Mark, "is an essential fuel for building successful networks and communities."

In his years as an activist, consultant and funder, Mark has worked closely with some amazing people and organizations. His favourites include: Sarvodaya, Aspiration, the Association for Progressive Communications, the International Development Research Centre, Communicopia, Mary Helen Spence, rabble.ca, the Shuttleworth Foundation, Zhaba, and the Centre for Social Innovation. "I wouldn't be me had I not worked with these folks," says Mark.

When he finds time, Mark likes to write about community, technology and changing the world. He's proud to have written things like From the Ground Up (a nice picture book about why telecentres matter), Commonspace (FT.com book about web 2.0, written before there was web 2.0) and Appropriating Technology for Social Change (SSRC research paper about activism on the Internet). When he was still an idealistic student, he wrote From VTR to Cyberspace, an illustrated essay about Gramsci, community television and the Internet. Now his idealistic ramblings appear on his blog.

The following is a sample of Mark's work. Click on 'more' in each category for full information.

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