Lizard Wrangling: Mitchell on Mozilla & More


Mozilla Manifesto – Towards 1.0

April 18th, 2013

The Mozilla Manifesto identifies a set of principles that we believe are critical for the Internet to continue to benefit the public good, commercial life and individual opportunity. For those interested in Mozilla history and development, this 2007 post describes why the Mozilla Manifesto was written and its goals.

In 2007 we gave the Mozilla Manifesto an “0.9” designation and began using it as a guidepost for our work. My plan at the time was to see if translating the Mozilla Manifesto caused questions or suggestions for improvements before moving to a 1.0 version. We have seen many translations (35 languages to date). In an unplanned path, the 0.9 version proved extremely resilient and we didn’t actually change it to a “1.0” version.

We’ve now reached Mozilla’s 15 year anniversary, which is a good time to make a few tweaks and identify this as our version 1.0. To do this, we’ve gathered input from the Mozilla community over the last 12 months, via workshops held at MozCamps and at the Mozilla Festival. Having considered all that has been said so far, we are proposing 3 changes to the 10 principles in the Manifesto.

1. Add a reference to “privacy”

Preserving the privacy of users is a core Mozilla value. In version 0.9, the reference to “security” in principle 4 was intended to imply “privacy”. However, experience has shown that the text is not read that way. And so we propose changing principle 4 to add an explicit reference:

Individuals’ security and privacy on the Internet are fundamental and cannot be treated as optional.

2. Make all principles expressible in 140 characters

Rightly or wrongly, being able to make a point in 140 characters is now an extremely useful (and sometimes necessary) way of conveying information. Making each principle tweetable helps us communicate them. Also, we believe that we can do this without losing key messages, and that the shorter versions are clearer. To do this, 3 principles – 1, 6 and 9 – need to be shortened. We propose:

1: The Internet is integral to modern life – education, communication, collaboration, business, entertainment and society.

6: The effectiveness of the Internet as a public resource depends upon interoperability, innovation and decentralized participation worldwide.

9: Commercial involvement in the Internet brings many benefits; a balance between commercial goals and public benefit is critical.

3. Strengthen the reference to individuals being able to create their own experience

Mozilla’s mission involves empowering people to act, to move from being consumers to creators of online life. A rewording of principle 5 makes the “building and making” part much more clear:

Individuals must have the ability to shape the Internet, and their own experiences on it.

A summary is available of the feedback from the MozCamps and the Mozilla Festival – this was the document we considered in coming up with the proposals above. If there’s something big you think has not been considered, let us know. If you think any of these changes are wrong-headed or destructive, also let us know. You can comment on these proposed changes in the governance forum.

Preparing for the Next Chapter

April 10th, 2013

Gary Kovacs joined us in November of 2010 as the Mozilla Corporation’s third CEO. I was the first (2004-2008), and John Lilly the second (2008-2010). We’ve had two CEO transitions so far, and now we will have a third. Gary will step down as CEO later this year. He will remain a member of our board of directors. As we did before, we are making this announcement as we begin a search for a new CEO, rather than waiting until after we have identified one. This fits with Mozilla’s identity as a public benefit organization dedicated to openness and participation in Internet life.

Each of Mozilla Corporation’s CEOs has brought our particular skills and expertise to an important era of Mozilla and Firefox development. I led during the start-up/underdog phase and the transition into an industry success with a strong open source and public benefit core. John’s leadership helped us solidify that success, grow to a couple of hundred people (huge by our standards then) and extend our reach in ways we hadn’t imagined.

Gary joined us to make a dramatic pivot — to move Mozilla from the desktop browser world into the mobile ecosystem. In 2010 we knew that we would need to change many things in order to be effective in the mobile computing environment: our technology, our expertise, our worldview, our focus. Gary’s leadership during this period has helped us build on the strong foundation to make these changes, and to bring that strength into the mobile environment. Gary has reinvigorated our focus on working with commercial partners, a trait that was central in Mozilla’s early life but less so during the Firefox desktop era.

We have accomplished a huge amount since Gary joined us. I want to thank Gary for his contributions to our cause, and for bringing new things to Mozilla. Our understanding of the world is deeper and our ability to focus stronger as a result. We have also built many layers of strong leaders at Mozilla. I have every confidence in the leadership team, in the dedicated individuals throughout Mozilla, in our vibrant community and the growing participation of our commercial contributors. We’ll celebrate this at the Summit, we’ll see it in action before then, and we’ll see it in the products we build and ship in the coming months.

There’s a lot to do. The future of our freedoms online are at stake. For my part I’ll be more deeply involvement in Mozilla’s daily activities during the transition period and in the CEO search. I’ll also be working to ensure that our partners and individual contributors have the tools they need to make meaningful contributions to Mozilla, and through us to the potential of the Web.

I urge each of us to step forward and *lead* — lead each other and lead others to join us. Lead a growing number of people as we build as much openness, innovation and opportunity into Internet life as we possibly can. Let’s make something great of the changes that come our way. Let’s make the next 15 years a watershed time for the digital freedom and opportunity.

Celebrating 15 Years of a Better Web

April 2nd, 2013

On March 31, Mozilla turned 15 years old. In these years, something radical has happened: the Web has become an everyday presence in the lives of billions of people. It’s made their lives better. Mozilla was a big part of this.

Looking back, Mozilla’s plan was as radical as the Web itself: use open source and community to simultaneously create great software and build openness into the key technologies of the Internet itself. This was something commercial vendors weren’t doing and could not do. A non-profit, community-driven organization like Mozilla was needed to step up to the challenge.

In our first phase, Mozilla brought competition, choice and empowerment to the World Wide Web on the desktop. We did this by bringing a phenomenally better experience to hundreds of millions of people with Firefox. At the same time, we used Firefox to drive openness and opportunity across the whole Web ecosystem — open source, open standards, open development process for Firefox, and the ability for people everywhere to participate in creating Firefox, in tuning it to fit their local environments, in customizing and extending it to fit their needs, all on their own terms and without needing permission from Mozilla or anyone else.

We did these things by cracking open the closed, tightly-integrated set of software, hardware and related services provided by Microsoft, the commercial Internet giant of its time.

The result: over a decade of creativity, innovation and increased competition on the Web. Mozilla has helped shift the center of gravity to a Web that’s more open — that gives more people the opportunity to create and enjoy the Web on *their* terms. The “open” way of thinking has spread to a range of other activities, from open data to open government to open science. More importantly: billions of people experience the openness of the Web every day as they create, connect and invent in ways that reflect their goals and dreams, without needing the permission of a few commercial organizations.

In the coming era both the opportunities and threats to the Web are just as big as they were 15 years ago. As the role of data grows and device capabilities expand, the Internet will become an even more central part of our lives. The need for individuals to have some control over how this works and what we experience is fundamental. Mozilla can — and must — play a key role again. We have the vision, the products and the technology to do this. We know how to enable people to participate, both by contributing to our specific activities and coming up with their own ideas that advance the bigger cause of enriching the Web.

It’s an exciting time for Mozilla and the Web. Another two billion people will join the Internet community in the coming years. It’s critical that these people all have access to the openness and empowerment that the Web has brought to date. The browser is a necessary piece of making sure this happens; yet we need to do more.

One part of “doing more” is Firefox OS, a completely new mobile device ecosystem that brings openness and the freedom for individuals to create and enjoy the Web on their own terms, enables new kinds of competition across the ecosystem, and brings new opportunities for locally-tailored content to be created, organized and consumed.

We’re also building the Mozilla Webmaker program. Webmaker will give people the tools and skills they need to move from being consumers to being co-creators of their online experiences. It will also provide an umbrella for people who want to teach others how to tap into the full power of the Web. Finally, we’re re-focusing our efforts to better support local communities as they grow and organize.

Let’s enjoy our history.  But let’s also celebrate by thinking what great things we can make happen for the future. The world needs Mozilla. Mozilla has been key to getting us where we are and it’s key to getting us where we want to be.

Mozilla Summit

March 31st, 2013

Mozilla contributors participate from all over the globe. We participate in ones and twos from home. In Internet cafes and hacker spaces and university buildings. In Mozilla spaces with large concentrations of peers. In every continent, including Antarctica. Our participation structure is distributed, decentralized and highly individualized. In this way we represent the Web. We’re also human beings, of course, and we *love* to get together. It’s fun, it allows us to get to know each other, and to exchange the high-bandwidth ideas that face-to-face provides. And it helps us develop a shared understanding of what we are doing.

This year we’re going to gather as many key contributors as we can at the same time for the 2013 Mozilla Summit. The Summit will be open to about 1,000 Mozilla volunteers and all 900 or so of our employees. This will be the first time since 2010 that key volunteers and all Mozilla employees will have the opportunity to gather together and to work face to face. We expect this to be very exciting.

Our last Summit was in 2010 and gathered about 600 people. It seemed huge then, yet in 2013 we’ll have more than three times as many people. Because of this we’re going to try some new things. First, we’re going to try having three different locations rather than gathering 2,000 people in one place. This means the Summit will be different than 2010. Exactly! Mozilla’s not like 2010, the world isn’t like 2010, and innovation is at the heart of who we are. So we’re going to try some innovations. We’re hoping to have three locations, each with the intimacy (!!!) of 600 or 700 people, some shared content and some innovative ways to join the three locales. We’ll learn from this and use what we learn to design our future events.

The multiple locations means that the Summit will be different than a geo-located “work week.” It’s unlikely that everyone who you’ll want to see face to face will all be in the same place. On the other hand, an organization our size needs trusted connections across groups, and good relationships between people you would never have thought to get to know.

My greatest hope for the Summit is to develop a shared understanding of who we are as Mozilla, how we plan to move our shared mission forward, and how our products and offerings fit into these goals. That of course means getting to know people, lots of spontaneity and fun settings and of course some real quality time exploring our products and programs.

To do this, we’re planning to identify a pretty good size planning group. That group will do a bunch of pre-work, and will meet in mid-June to figure out the content for the Summit and help shape the overall experience.

The Summit should be great fun. It is a hugely important step in bringing Mozilla together and developing a shared understanding of who we are and how we and our products bring openness and freedoms to digital citizens.


Imprisioned Contributor, 1 Year Later

March 16th, 2013

Yesterday makes it a full  year since Creative Commons and Mozilla contributor Bassel Khartibil was imprisoned by the Syrian regime.  Last July a public campaign was launched, and Mozilla participated .

This public  campaign to #freebassel  may have played a significant role in getting Bassel moved from a military intelligence to a civilian prison with visitation rights.

We continue to urge support for the #freebassel campaign by visiting the website, tweeting about Bassel’s case (#freebassel), or attending an event in his honor.

Mozilla Welcomes All

January 10th, 2013

I’m happy to say that Mozilla’s Community Participation Guidelines have reached a 1.0 designation. They state that “We welcome participants of varied age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views.”

A bit more info here:

The Tragedy of the ITU

December 12th, 2012

The ITU has a long and venerable history.  Today that history and reputation are at risk.  Negotiations in Dubai this week on updating the International Telecommunications Regulations treaty contemplate expanding the ITU’s scope to regulate aspects of online life.  If this happens, the ITU will find itself on a collision course with online freedom and the aspirations of the world’s international digital citizens.  The efforts to set the ITU up to regulate the Internet are written in technical terms, but they actually make global public policy on questions of freedom, such as monitoring of Internet communications, the relationship of a citizen to civil organizations and government. The ITU is on the cusp of recreating itself as a lobbying institution at odds with individual citizens.

This would be a tragedy.  A tragedy for the ITU, for the Internet and for each of us.

The ITU was founded in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union and is now a United Nations agency.  The ITU coordinates the shared global use of radio spectrum, as well as satellite orbits.  It has done significant work on telecommunications standardization and interoperability.  It strives to improve access to information and communications technologies to underserved communities worldwide.   (The ITU awarded Mozilla its World Information Society Award in 2007.)  The ITU is a membership organization — only governments and civil organizations can participate.  Citizens do not have a right to see the materials or know the content of a discussion, let alone participate in the decision-making process.  This might have been a reasonable approach for spectrum allocation and standardization.  It is not acceptable for the types of issues the ITU is now contemplating under the rubric of “Internet governance.”  Transforming the ITU into a global public policy maker with no accountability to any citizenry is a recipe for disaster.

It is imperative that citizens have a right to participate in the public policy question of the Internet era. These are topics that will define the tenor of our lives as everything moves online. Moving these topics to the ITU will not bring us a better Internet.  It will not enhance the ITU’s venerable history.

The best thing the ITU can do to promote a healthy Internet is step away from any temptation to regulate or govern today’s Internet debates. The deeper the ITU’s commitment to empowering people, the more crisply the ITU should step away.

Citizens must insist on this and I encourage you to learn more and take action to make your voice heard.

To learn more, we’ve assembled a list of resources:
To send a message to your country’s ITU delegation:
To sign a petition to keep the Internet open: choose from the options here to “Mobilize on the Web.”
To see how easy it can be to develop your own personalized video message, check out the template and tutorial.

Reinventing the Web

November 15th, 2012

The Web has become fundamental infrastructure of modern life in just 20 years. Today, we see how the Web can make yet another leap in its usefulness, fun, business opportunities and social benefit.

Imagine the richness and freedoms of the Web seamlessly integrated with mobile devices. Imagine that experience is awesome and it’s awesome whether you use an app for a special task or use the browser to find your own path.

Imagine acquiring an app and having it run across multiple devices, whether or not all these devices come from the same vendor. Imagine being able to choose when it makes sense to interact with the app provider directly or instead through Apple, Google or Microsoft.

Imagine having a choice about who controls your identity. Log into a site and have everything you’ve done on the web available to the world? Or log in and have information you consider public to be available to the world?

Imagine have a sense of security about your online environment — who’s watching you, who’s selling information about you, who’s protecting you and how you can protect yourself.

Imagine understanding the Web, feeling competent to make things, to change what exists and create things that meet your particular needs. Imagine where Web literacy is fun, and extends beyond to citizens as well as hard-core programmers.

Mozilla is building this world. We have the vision of this world, the architecture, the technology and the product plans. We’re building these products now. We have the financial resources to support these efforts. This is an exciting and very productive period. Please explore this year’s Annual Report to see what we’ve done and what’s on the horizon. Please join us in building this world.

Mozilla Foundation IRS audit now closed

November 3rd, 2012

In 2008 the US Internal Revenue Service opened an audit of the Mozilla Foundation. I’m happy to note that we’ve settled the issues raised and the IRS recently closed the audit. We entered into a settlement, under which the Mozilla Foundation paid the IRS US $1.5 million.

As a result of this settlement, $15 million in funds we had held in reserve pending the resolution of the audit are now available to support the Mozilla Foundation’s mission to support innovation and opportunity on the web.

I believe this to be a very positive result. We will now go back through the various documents and will have more details on this audit to share in the future. I expect to do so before the end of this year.

Donating to Support Women in Open Source and Culture Projects

October 14th, 2012

The Ada Initiative works to create a “A world in which women are equal and welcome participants in open source software, open data, and open culture.” This is critical not just for the women involved, but for all of us. We need diversity in people creating our infrastructures and technology if we want them to represent all points of view.

To do this The Ada Initiative gathers active women together, such as AdaCamp in DC, with over 100 women active in wide range of open source /free culture projects. I’ve seen the impact such gatherings have, and have seen the Mozilla attendees come away super-charged. The Ada Initiative is also working to reduce harassment, which sadly still occurs more regularly than should be the case.

I was a seed donor, and I’ve just contributed to the current fund-raising campaign. Please consider joining me by donating to The Ada Initiative.

If you are in the San Francisco area this coming Tuesday (Oct 16), you can also join The Ada Foundation, Wikimedia Foundation and Mozilla to celebrate this year’s Ada Lovelace Day at the Wikimedia Foundation’s office in San Francisco.

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