Archive for October, 2011

World Economic Forum Global Event Councils 2011

October 18th, 2011

Last week I spent a few days at the World Economic Forum’s annual brain-storming event, the gathering of its “Global Agenda Councils.” One of my fellow-council members (Julia Hobsbawm — an extremely focused and efficient communicator) has already published her description of this year’s event. Rather than duplicate her work, I’ll simply thank her and add a bit about my experience.

The WEF asked me to facilitate a discussion during one of the break-out sessions. The overall session was Digital Governance, and probably 100 or 125 of the attendees choose this topic. Within this session there were 5 discussion groups, each with a particular question for discussion, and people  chose which questions they wanted to address.

The discussion I was asked to facilitate was “The Rights of the One vs the Needs of the Many — How does the digital world affect the way we think about this question?” I wasn’t sure how the discussion would go, but it was great. We covered very practical aspects such as “What is ‘the many,’ in a world where groups from across boundaries and may shift freely?” “What about jurisdictional issues?”

We also delved into some very theoretical topics such as the nature of pluralism, and does one need a “center that holds” to turn a bunch of groups into a pluralistic society? One upon a time I was well versed in political theory and facile with its use as an analytic tool, but it has been a while. I had to listen carefully and think hard to engage with the theoretical thinkers in the group. It was exhilarating.

The people who are invited to the Global Agenda Councils have already become known through their work. As a result, the group tends to be older, more “successful,” more male, more Western than general demographics. I found this version of the event to make some progress in these issues. Maybe it’s because my Council had good geographic distribution, as Julia chronicles. The Councils still don’t reflect the giant part of the world’s population that is under 25, and sometimes I feel this acutely. On the other hand, I don’t think I had the experience of being the only woman in any of the groups I came across, which happens to me regularly in Silicon Valley.

The work product of the few days together is a bit abstract, since the task was to figure out new models for approaching the world’s big problems. I agree with Julia that there’s a great deal of benefit in “mash-ups” of people with different areas of expertise. I always think carefully about attending, because it takes close to a week and there are some drawbacks. But I’m always drawn by the amazing assortment of people, and leave feeling the event is unique and worthwhile.

State of Mozilla and 2010 Financial Statements

October 10th, 2011

Today I am pleased to share with you this year’s annual State of Mozilla report.  It details our opportunities, our community and our expanding set of initiatives. Included in this post is the full text of the video from the “Ahead” section of the site.   I invite you to learn more about the Mozilla Project and join us in our ongoing efforts to build a better Internet.

Mozilla’s  mission is to ensure that the Internet remains open, interoperable and  respects user sovereignty. We do this by building software that puts  people in control of their digital lives, like Firefox. We do this by  empowering a global community of people who volunteer to champion these  efforts.

Internet  life is changing. We are connecting through more devices. We are living  in apps as well as browsers. We are interacting with friends and  followers and acquaintances. We can experience the Web through a highly  personal, highly customized lens.

The  challenges ahead of us are very real. Mobile platforms are more closed  and more centralized than we have seen in decades. As individuals, we  are losing the ability to act on the Web without permission from large, centralized gatekeepers. We are all being tracked, logged, cataloged,  monetized and turned into products to be sold. We’re seeing the  universal platform of the Web fragmenting back into multiple different  worlds.

As  the Internet experience is changing, Mozilla, too, is changing. The  products and tools that we use to advance our mission are expanding and  evolving. A browser is necessary but not sufficient. Equally important  is expanding the number of people who understand our values and identify as Mozillians. Mozilla has both the challenge and the opportunity to  expand our reach dramatically.  We have the ability to bring our values to life in new ways.  Embracing these opportunities means  embracing change, embracing hope and embracing determination.  This is how we will continue to give people ultimate authority over their digital lives.

Rapid Release Follow-Up

October 3rd, 2011

Rapid Release

My recent post on the rapid release cycle generated a lot of response, some very thoughtful and some also very frustrated.   Many of the comments focus on a few key issues listed below.   We’ve been working on how to address these issues; I’ll outline our progress and plans here.

  1. large deployments that certify software before permitting use can’t manage a 6 week cycle
  2. add-on compability issues
  3. update notices and fatigue
  4. frustration that we didn’t get these things addressed better before making the change.

1.  Large Deployments. We’ve made a proposal for extended support for large deployments.This proposal is under discussion now in the relevant newsgroup and in our Enterprise Working Group.  We are incorporating feedback and expect to come to closure on this proposal shortly.

2.  Add-On Compatibility.  There are a couple of related issues that have made add-on compatibility difficult.  First, we have historically assumed that add-ons are incompatible until proven to be compatible.    This is a very conservative assumption which creates work for all add-on developers and notifications to all add-on users.    We’ve corrected this for the add-ons hosted by Mozilla.  Work is underway to correct this for the remaining add-ons.  Here is a  more detailed explanation of the topic; feature planning details are also available.

3.  Update Fatigue.  In the past we have been very careful to make sure people know something is changing with their web browser before it changes.  We did this to make sure people are aware and in control of what’s happening to their environment.   Our position was to err on the side of user notification.   Today people are telling us — loudly — that the notifications are irritating and that a silent update process is important.  This work is underway.    The first set of improvements should appear in the next Firefox release, with more improvements appearing in the next few months.   Also, one main reason people are notified of updates is due to incompatible add-ons which will be addressed by the work on add-on compatibility.  More details can be found in this blog post:

4.  Frustration.  The comments also registered frustration that we didn’t get these issues better addressed before making the shift.  The change was abrupt and we should do better in the future.  We focused very effectively on making sure we could make the core engineering aspects of a rapid release process work.  We focused well on being able to deliver user and developer benefits on a much faster pace — we’ve already brought major memory improvements to make browsing faster, Do Not Track to Firefox for Android, developer tools and HTML5 support.  But we didn’t focus so effectively on making sure all aspects of the product and ecosystem were ready.  We believe we have plans in place to alleviate the issues that resulted, with improvements rolling out in in the coming weeks.

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