Archive for July, 2012

Importance of “Real-Time”

July 27th, 2012

Now that the Opening Ceremony for the Olympics is over NBC (who has the rights for the US) will start showing the Opening Ceremony, complete with whatever “context” is so important that they couldn’t stream the event live.

Problem for me is, it feels over already.  I’ve lost interest, and I don’t plan to watch the Opening Ceremony.   Eventually I’ll probably watch the snippet with the Queen, but not the event.  This isn’t because of anger, or to get back at NBC.  It’s just too late for me.  I not interested in watching the re-run.

Wondering, does anyone else feel this way?

Cathy Davidson joins Mozilla Foundation Board

July 25th, 2012

Please join me in welcoming Cathy Davidson to the Mozilla Foundation Board of Directors.  Cathy has been working with Mozilla for some time now, and we are very pleased that she has is  joining our Board.  Mozillians active in the education, web-literacy, or badges work may have seen Cathy and her Mozilla-related work already.  Mozillians active primarily in building Firefox and other general consumer products may have met her and can do so in the future through ongoing Town Hall, brown bag and related discussions.

I’ve been impressed by degree to which Cathy’s work intersects with Mozilla.  Her academic focus has been on the intersection of technology, collaboration, learning, and digital life.   In 2002 she co-founded HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory), an organization dedicated to rethinking the future of learning in the digital age.  We saw HASTAC in action during the first Mozilla Festival (“Learning, Freedom and the Web”) in Barcelona a couple of years ago.  I was struck by the innovative approach.

Here’s a bit more detail about Cathy’s involvement with Mozilla-related activities, and a bit more general info about Cathy.

Cathy joins Brendan Eich, Joi Ito, Bob Lisbonne, Brian Behlendorf and me on the Mozilla Foundation board.    We expect the board to grow a bit more as we seek to bring expertise in new areas and geographies.

Welcome, Cathy!

Mozilla Foundation Board of Directors

July 25th, 2012

The Mozilla Foundation is welcoming a new board member. I’ll introduce
her in a moment. First I’ll describe the role of a board member, and
what we looked for. In June 2008 I wrote a description of the role of a
board member and I’ll start by quoting that piece:

The board of directors is generally responsible for the conduct and the
management of affairs of a company. More specifically, they have
fiduciary and ethical responsibility and accountability for what a
company does. There are many opinions about specifically what these
means as a couple of Wikipedia entries make clear. The main point for
this discussion is that a Board is really not like the operational
groups. To use more traditional terms, the Board is not like the
“management team.” The Board asserts authority in the areas of
governance and accountability; it provides assistance, guidance and
support in strategic decisions and tactical activities. There’s no one
better equipped to understand our world than the people building it
every day. We look to the Board to support and improve those efforts,
rather than try to micro-manage those efforts.

As in all roles related to Mozilla, we’re looking for individuals who
are fundamentally excited about the Mozilla mission and what makes us
different, and are highly attuned to [the organization’s] role as part
of a much larger community. For a board member we’re also looking for
someone who can execute the fiduciary and accountability
responsibilities required of a board, and is likely to work well with
the existing members of the board and the people with whom the board
works most closely.

For the Mozilla Foundation, we’re also looking for people who are
energized by Mozilla’s deep technical and consumer product focus, and
who are eager to expand Mozilla’s impact into additional areas.
Operational experience with nonprofit organizations and communicating
our mission are very helpful. Expertise in one or more of the areas
where Mozilla operates programs (education, journalism, “story-telling,”
Internet life, are also a big plus). The Mozilla Foundation board also selects the Board of Directors of its subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation.

All Mozilla directors are volunteers. There is no compensation for being
a board member. This is true of many non-profits but a difference from
board membership in many private and public companies.

Thunderbird: Stability and Community Innovation

July 6th, 2012

Thunderbird provides an open-source, cross-platform email alternative for those of us who still use stand-alone email clients (and I am one).  It’s trust-worthy, it’s under your control, and it’s built to reflect the Mozilla mission. Once again we’ve been asking the question:  is Thunderbird a likely source of innovation and of leadership in today’s Internet life?  Or is Thunderbird already pretty much what its users want and mostly needs some on-going maintenance?

Much of Mozilla’s leadership — including that of the Thunderbird team — has come to the conclusion that on-going stability is the most important thing, and that continued innovation in Thunderbird is not a priority for Mozilla’s product efforts. (For more information about the path to this conclusion, see the “Background Information” section below.) As a result, the Thunderbird team has developed a plan that provides both stability for Thunderbird’s current state and allows the Thunderbird community to innovate if it chooses.

In this plan, Mozilla will provide security updates through an Extended Support Release process. We will also maintain mechanisms for the Thunderbird community to organize for ongoing development. Here are additional details about this plan. If you are a Thunderbird user and are interested in more details, please follow the discussion at the two URLs above or in the Thunderbird online channels. If you are a Thunderbird developer, join the discussion in the Thunderbird development forums.

Thunderbird is an important product for many people — I am one of them.  If you’re one of us and want to get involved in building Thunderbird, now is the time. For Thunderbird users, the Extended Support Release process will provide security maintenance updates.

Background Information

We’ve asked the question about Thunderbird and ongoing innovation a number of times.  We’ve tried for years to build Thunderbird as a highly innovative offering, where it plays a role in moving modern Internet messaging to a more open, innovative space, and where there is a growing, more active contributor base.  To date, we haven’t achieved this.  The exception to this statement is the Mozilla localization communities, which contributes immense effort into localizing Thunderbird into many languages.  However, the dedicated efforts of these groups have not been supported by an active contributor base in other areas.    This puts great stress on a number of our localization communities.

The Thunderbird team has successfully updated the product and has built infrastructure for innovation in Thunderbird.  It has ideas and projects under way.  It tries to develop and welcome and nurture new contributors.   Over the years we’ve tried a variety of things to encourage community development and innovation in the Thunderbird world.  In the early days of the Foundation in 2003 the same team was developing Firefox and Thunderbird; then we created Mozilla Messaging for a focused development; and today the Thunderbird team is back in the main Mozilla product organization.

Most Thunderbird users seem happy with the basic email feature set.  In parallel, we have seen the rising popularity of Web-based forms of communications representing email alternatives to a desktop solution.  Given this, focusing on stability for Thunderbird and driving innovation through other offerings seems a natural choice.


Contributor Imprisoned in Syria

July 5th, 2012

Please help us Free Bassel, open source developer and CC volunteer

What open means to you
Bassel / joi / CC BY

On March 15, 2012, Bassel Khartabil was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus. Since then, his family has received no official explanation for his detention or information regarding his whereabouts. However, his family has recently learned from previous detainees at the security branch of Kafer Sousa, Damascus, that Bassel is being held at this location.

Bassel Khartabil, a Palestinian-born Syrian, 31, is a respected computer engineer specializing in open source software development, the type of contributions the Internet is built upon. He launched his career ten years ago in Syria, working as a technical director for a number of local companies on cultural projects like restoring Palmyra and Forward Syria Magazine.

Since his arrest, Bassel’s valuable volunteer work, both in Syria and around the world, has been stopped. His absence has been painful for the communities that depend on him. In addition, his family, and his fiancée whom he was due to marry this past April, have had their lives put on hold.

Bassel Khartabil has been unjustly detained for nearly four months without trial or any legal charges being brought against him. —

Statement of Support to Bassel, his family and friends.

Mozilla supports efforts to obtain the release of Bassel Khartabil (also known as Bassel Safadi), a valuable contributor to and leader in the technology community. Bassel’s expertise and focus across all aspects of his work has been in support of the development of publicly available, free, open source computer software code and technology. Through his efforts, the quality and availability of freely available and open technology is improved and technology is advanced.

Please help us #FREEBASSEL by signing the support letter at

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