Time Magazine Dinner

April 26th, 2005

Time Magazine hosted a dinner for the Time 100 last week, inviting this year’s list, last year’s list and a set of other interesting people. As you might imagine, many people don’t attend. I went, thinking it would be an opportunity to meet interesting people. The dinner was a black tie event held at Time Warner Center in Manhattan. That’s “Time Warner,” as in used to be “AOL/Time Warner,” which I found somewhat ironic. It was a classic New York event, black tie, with the red carpet and photographers and “headliners” to generate interest and so on. I was reminded once again of how pervasive the role of the media is in New York life, and how unabashedly people seek the spotlight.

We (my husband and I) did meet some interesting people. For example, we turned around to talk with a gentleman standing behind us to learn he was James Watson who, with his colleague Francis Crick, is credited with figuring out the structure of DNA.

As we got to the dinner table I found myself standing between two people from the Time 100 group of 2004. One woman, from the investment world, looked a bit unsure as I described Mozilla and Firefox. But she had brought her son as her guest and he immediately piped up “Firefox! Everyone I know uses Firefox!” And went on to describe why. I then turned to person on my other side, who is active in politics. He too looked a little lost of the idea of software. But his companion, a doctoratal student in the biosciences looked up and said “Firefox! I absolutely use Firefox. All my colleagues use Firefox.” And he went on to explain why as well. Then someone from the other side of the table joined in about Firefox. One person has a Spread Firefox account. I could feel the initial confusion morph into something along the lines of “hmm, I may not know of it, but it feels like something is going on.”

I found the experience to be a perfect example of the Firefox phenomenon. A whole set of people have no idea about the Mozilla Foundation. Many find software confusing in general and have little interest in sorting through the complexities of the browser or other software. And yet all around them are people they respect who are aware, who do care, and who are actually connected to the Mozilla project in some fashion.

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