Posts Tagged with “Asia”

Launch Day in Seoul

June 16th, 2008

Tomorrow I’ll be mixing OECD events with the Firefox 3 launch day and Mozilla community events. I’ll get up very early to participate in an Air Mozilla event coinciding (almost) with the official Firefox release. Then I’ll go to a local TV station to talk about Mozilla. The only downside is I’ll have to miss some of the interesting roundtables at the OECD Ministerial. That’s disappointing, but reflects how much is going on that is relevant to Mozilla. I’ll go back to the OECD for the lunch and afternoon events. Then in the evening I’ll have the chance to meet up with a significant group of Mozilla contributors. I’m really looking forward to this. The community in Korea has long been wildly creative, active and part of what makes Mozilla Mozilla.  It will be great fun to see Firefox release day from this vantage point.

Thursday I’ll participate in a forum on web standards and the importance of interoperability for a healthy Internet environment. “The Global Web Technology Workshop will be held for the adoption of global web technologies and web standards within the Korean web industry . . . ” This is organized by long-time Mozilla contributor Channy Yun. It should be a great opportunity to meet the broader web community within which Mozilla lives.

It’s a rare treat to combine three great events in one all-too-brief trip. The OECD, the Mozilla community on a Firefox release day, and a community interested in the open web. No doubt I’ll come home buzzing with excitement and stumbling with exhaustion!

Mozilla and the OECD in Seoul

June 16th, 2008

As Gen mentioned, I’m in Seoul for a couple of events. One is the Ministerial level Meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on the Future of the Internet Economy. I’m speaking at one of the five roundtables, this one on Creativity. There is an opportunity for online participation organized as well. If I learn anything more about this during the day I’ll update this.

The OECD traces its roots back to 1947 as part of the post-war reconstruction in Western Europe:

The OECD brings together the governments of countries committed to democracy and the market economy from around the world to:

  • Support sustainable economic growth
  • Boost employment
  • Raise living standards
  • Maintain financial stability
  • Assist other countries’ economic development
  • Contribute to growth in world trade

The OECD also shares expertise and exchanges views with more than 100 other countries and economies, from Brazil, China, and Russia to the least developed countries in Africa . . . its mission has been to help its member countries to achieve sustainable economic growth and employment and to raise the standard of living in member countries while maintaining financial stability – all this in order to contribute to the development of the world economy.

Part of our dream for Mozilla has been to be a voice for the health of the Internet itself. To use our technology, our products and our community process to demonstrate what is possible, and to help others see that openness, participation and distributed decision-making can lead to many positive developments. Mozilla’s participation in events such as this OECD meeting demonstrates that we are doing this. We represent a new style of development for Internet product and the Internet experience.

On one hand I’m extremely honored to be asked to speak at such an event. On the other hand I believe that Mozilla should be here.


September 19th, 2007

As those of you who read know, last weekend was the Mozilla24 event. A lot of people have written about Mozilla 24 and I won’t repeat a general description. The thing that struck me was the power that the infrastructure can bring, and how the infrastructure really can bring people closer. Typically in the Mozilla world we’re focused on software (obviously!). We recognize the critical nature of the underlying infrastructure that we live on but don’t spend our days building it as we do the software layer. And so the proposal for Mozilla 24 seemed daunting to me, given the massive amounts of infrastructure needed to provide real-time video conferencing across multiple continents. But Mozilla 24 was spear-headed by Mozilla Japan with the significant assistance Dr. Jun Morai. Dr. Morai is known as the “father of the Internet” of Japan, is a VP of Keio University, a member of ICANN and the Internet Society, and a long time friend of Mozilla Japan.

Dr. Morai is also the chairperson of the WIDE project which seeks to put this infrastructure to use for social benefit. I found Mozilla24 to be an eye-opening example of how powerful an idea this is. I attended the Mozilla24 event at Stanford University. It was a very nice facility — thank you Stanford! The room had 3 large screens. Generally one showed the presentation, another showed the audiences in other areas and the third often showed the Mozilla 24 photo stream. What surprised me was how strong the feeling was of “touching” and “seeing” the people in other locations. The images were good enough, the audio was good, and the transmission lag was so small as to be unnoticeable for much of the time. I participated in the last segment, which was the Kids” Summit, followed by a discussion with Dr. Morai and Dr. Cerf. It really was possible to have a discussion, to watch Dr. Morai, the discussion leader and feel as if he was “right there.” At one point Dr. Moral was speaking to the Kids’ Summit participants, suggesting we’d kept them long enough and it was fine for them to go home. After the children from Japan left he turned to the children from Thailand and suggested they were free to go as well. I thought to myself “Wow, I didn’t know the participants from Thailand had gone to Japan; I thought they were all at the University in Thailand.” But of course, they *were* in Thailand. Dr. Morai is simply so comfortable with this technology that it’s impossible to tell from watching him whether he’s talking to people in the same room or someone thousands of miles away.

Of course, Mozilla24 was an enormous amount of work. The Mozilla Japan team showed once again that they are masters of organization, and of bringing Mozilla DNA to well-organized, professional quality events. And the rest of the Mozilla world jumped in to make a rich program.

Mozilla24 has made it clear to me once again how Mozilla is part of a much larger effort to bring openness and participation to *all* levels of the Internet stack. It made me realize once again all the different things that the Mozilla community is and does.

Ever More Global

April 26th, 2007

The Internet is increasingly global, and so is the Mozilla project. This is true of the user base, where we expect the number of people using English versions of Firefox to fall below 50% shortly. It is true of our development community, with increasing numbers of developers living and working on Mozilla from their home locales. It is true of our infrastructure, with the Mozilla add-ons site recently re-implemented to provide support for people creating add-ons in multiple languages. It is true in the increased coordination and cross-pollination between Mozilla Europe and Mozilla Japan and Mozilla contributors in the US.

In 2007 we plan to invest time and resources in making Mozilla an even more global project.

One particular area of focus is China. Mozilla has had an organizational presence in China since March of 2005, focused on building a bit of community around our technology. This year we plan to expand our understanding of China and activities in China. In particular, we hope to:

  • Listen and learn. There’s a lot happening in China today, there’s at least a small Mozilla community and user base, a blogger community and a range of other Internet-based activities.
  • Develop a dialog with the Mozilla community, together find ways to make Mozilla known to more people and expand that community.
  • Articulate how Firefox can help improve the Internet experience in China as it has elsewhere in the world and then act to deliver Firefox to consumers.
  • Offer our expertise – in open source, Internet software, community-building, etc., to Mozilla contributors in China.
  • Increase Chinese participation in the Mozilla project.
  • Increase the Mozilla project’s understanding of online life in China.

Doing this well requires someone focused on these goals. It requires someone who resonates with the Mozilla vision for online life and also has a good feel for China.

We are extremely fortunate to have found such a person in Li Gong. Li has a distinguished background: he graduated from Tsinghua University, China’s pre-eminent technical university, and earned a doctorate from Cambridge. He’s worked at the Stanford Research Institute, was Distinguished Engineer and Chief Architect of Java Security while at Sun Microsystems, was the general manager of Sun’s software organization in China and most recently was GM of Microsoft’s MSN organization in China.

The most salient point to me is that Li has been thinking about Mozilla, and about Mozilla in China since early in the Mozilla Foundation’s history. Li and I talked out a Mozilla China effort starting in 2004, and Li was the fundamental force in the creation of our current Mozilla organization in China. When we planned for Mozilla China in 2004 the Mozilla Foundation was small and young and extremely resource-constrained. Li introduced us to the Chinese Academy of Sciences and helped us form an organization compatible with the Foundation. Now that the Foundation is larger, stronger and more experienced, Li is the perfect person to help Mozilla expand the Mozilla project in China.

Just about a week ago, Li joined Mozilla full-time to lead our efforts in China. You’ll start to see information about what we’re learning, thinking and doing, as well as how to keep up to date and participate shortly.

Please welcome Li and help him find his way more deeply into the Mozilla project!

New Context Conference — Tokyo

October 3rd, 2006

Last week I was in Tokyo for the New Context Conference — the future of the Web, which was hosted by Joi Ito. Here’s a partial translation of the conference program.

There were a number of Japanese speakers, and then a set of folks Joi had arranged to come talk. I was only able to attend the first day, as I spend the second day focused on Mozilla Japan activities. But the English part of the first day was fascinating -– I only hope my contribution was as interesting as that from the other speakers I heard. After the introduction the conference started with a four short summaries.

The first summary was that of Claudio Prado, the Coordinator for Digital Policy for the Brazilian Minister of Culture. Claudio has a vision of the Internet being useful as a matter of culture. He describes the Internet as different from other media because it brings cultural diversity rather than homogeneity. I think of this as similar to talking about the “long tail” where many different ideas can flourish that would be impractical in other settings. But the idea gains flavor and humanity and a new level of excitement when viewed through Claudio’s lens.

In his allotted 10 minutes, Claudio talked about efforts in Brazil to bring the ability to participate in the Internet to people otherwise left out of the “modern” age. In this case “participation” means the ability create and share content, not simply navigate through existing content. The Brazilian government has started a program to provide tools to people and see what happens. Claudio describes this effort as helping bring people directly from the 19th century into the 21st century. In other word, bring the Internet era to people who have still not experienced industrialization.

Later on in the conference someone described this movement from 19th to 21st centuries as a “metaphor.” Claudio was adamant that this is not a metaphor, it is a description of what is actually happening. My time traveling around Asia years back helps me understand exactly what Claudio means. I remember the sense of dislocation at watching Chinese villagers in the Tibetan foothills carry water from the well on two buckets across the shoulders (I don’t have my photos handy, but here’s a good one already online) – and carry those water buckets back to dirt-floored homes with TVs blaring. Now Brazil is trying to bring Internet participation to groups of people similarly not connected to 20th century modern life. As an example Claudio later described ways people have found of sharing music that would otherwise never be published at all, and subsequently even building businesses based on this. It was fascinating.

Next David Isenberg talked about the “stupid network.” His point is that the Internet is an unusual and valuable network precisely because it was built to carry information packets rather than particular information types. He contrasts this to networks like the broadcast (TV, radio) and phone networks, which were built to carry a particular type of information. The separation he describes reminds me of the separation between “logic” and “presentation” that is often useful when dealing with data. David describes how this “stupid network” allows for “innovation at the edges” of the network rather than tied to the type of information for which the network was built. His point is that this allows more people to participate, a greater variety of activities by more people, and an extreme degree of flexibility. David continued with a set of comments about how the Internet can be approached in such a way that protects existing stakeholders -– the existing networks, the telephone companies, the media companies, government processes -– or it can be approached in a way that leaves the network as flexible and open to new ideas as possible. He closed with a plea for the latter, and all in about seven of his allotted ten minutes!

I spoke about the state of open source, about how people no longer wonder if open source can work, if it can produce great software, or if it is reasonable to be using and deploying it.

Then Tantek Celik talked about microformats. Tantek started by demonstrating how easy it is to convert an address found on a webpage into a format where people can simply click to add that address to an address book. No copy and pasting, no hand-parsing of fields –- it’s done through addition of simple markup. My summary of Tantek’s message is the idea that microformats are essentially markup about as simple as HTML, but which allows for richer data types than basic HTML. (The official description of microformats is somewhat more precise 🙂 The idea is appealing. The simplicity of HTML, the ability to view the HTML source for a web page, to cut and paste it, modify and reuse it was a powerful early driver of web participation. All sorts of people who wouldn’t think of themselves as programmers could view HTML source, cut and paste parts of it and create their own web pages. Brendan and I talk often about the importance of keeping participation easy, and so Tantek’s message about microformats resonated.

I don’t know how well all this came through in translation, but it was certainly interesting to me.

Adventures in Beijing

March 2nd, 2005

I’m in Beijing again, after a hiatus of 10 (actually 11 years). I’m here for the Fifth Asia Open Source Software Symposium and for another event which I’ll describe later. The Symposium is quite interesting, it is an update on what some 20 countries in the Asian region are doing to promote the adoption and development of open source software. I came because both the Symposium and the other event coincidentally happened to be scheduled for the same week, which made the trip seem worthwhile despite the costs of being away from the office for a week. I have some Internet access, which is wildly different than Beijing in 1994. But there are still a series of problems that make working from here difficult — the internet cable in my room doesn’t like my computer, so I have to go to the business center and try to work when it is open. For some reason I time out when trying to connect to the IRC servers, even when I can successfully connect with websites. And mail is truly wacky. Sometimes I can receive mail but not send. Sometimes I can send mail but not receive. I think the problem is with my provider, since something like this happened once before. But it’s a hard problem to fix from here.

So, if you’ve tried to contact me and haven’t gotten a response please give me a few days to get all this sorted out.

Being in Beijing has brought back many memories. I was actually in Beijing in the fall of 1994 when I accepted a job offer from Jim Clark to join Netscape. At that time I was astonished to be able to send and receive faxes from my hotel. I had lived in Beijing a few years before when I was an exchange student at Peking University. During that era the idea of sending a fax was beyond comprehension. There were a few foreign law firms downtown that maintained fax machines. But exchange students never saw these! And besides, we were at least an hour bus ride away from downtown. In those days the only way to make an international phone call was to go to a PT&T (Post, Telephone and Telegraph) office, wait your turn, and have an operator place the call. We were very lucky that the dormitory for foreign students had such an office, but it could still take 45 minutes to make a call. So in 1994 sending faxes was a novelty. Today there is a fax machine in my hotel room and my problems relate to imperfect internet access. Quite a change.

The hotel where I’m staying is in a neighborhood where I used to spend a reasonable amount of time. During my student days in Beijing this neighborhood was the transfer point between the two halves of the bus trip required to get from the University to downtown. I can hardly wait for a chance to get outside the hotel and walk around.

Welcome Mozilla Japan

August 19th, 2004

I am thrilled that Mozilla Japan has been launched. Mozilla Japan reflects the vibrancy of the Mozilla-gumi volunteer community that has been active since the early days of the Mozilla project. Several of the Mozilla-Gumi folks are involved with Mozilla Japan so we have a bridge between the project to date and the work of Mozilla Japan. Mozilla Japan also has some new and active participants. Nobua Kita, CEO of Ten Art-ni Corporation is active in open source matters in Japan in general, and has provided invaluable leadership in the formation and vitality of the new organization.

Mozilla Japan is the second International Affiliate of the Mozilla Foundation; the first was Mozilla-Europe. International Affiliates are independent legal organizations, preferably with nonprofit status. They are not subsidiaries of the Mozilla Foundation. Each Affiliate is run by an independent Board of Directors. The Mozilla Foundation needs to agree on the directors and the scope of activities before we allow the Mozilla name to be used; once this is done we look to the Affiliate to provide leadership for the Mozilla project in their geographical areas.

Mozilla Europe and Mozilla Japan came into being because Tristan and Peter in Europe and the Steering Committee in Japan (Nobuo Kita, Katsuhiko Momoi, Satoko TakitaYamaguchi and Motohiro Egota) were determined to see something happen. Actually Tristan and Peter came to us early in the life of the Foundation with their plans. It was a frantic time and figuring out how to make an Affiliate program was not at the top of my list. It became the top of my list because Peter and Tristan made it so, because their determination to give the Mozilla project a real voice in Europe was unstoppable.

The Mozilla project is successful because of the enormous energy people bring, the ways to contribute people dream up and the drive and leadership they provide. Welcome Mozilla-Japan!

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