Posts Tagged with “awards”

EFF Pioneer Award

March 10th, 2008

EFF Pioneer AwardThat’s a photo of the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award awarded to the Mozilla Foundation and Mitchell Baker.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a nonprofit organization that defends consumer and citizens’ rights in the digital world, primarily through the judicial system. Each year the EFF presents its Pioneer Awards, recognizing “individuals and organizations that have made significant and influential contributions to the development of computer-mediated communications and to the empowerment of individuals in using computers and the Internet.”

The award ceremony was last Tuesday at the O’Reilly ETech conference in San Diego, California. There was a brief introduction for each award winner. John Perry Barlow, one of the original co-founders of the EFF, introduced Mozilla. He spoke about the significance of the name — the Electronic Frontier. He said they choose this name believing that there will be a frontier in the digital world for a long time to come. He also said that the Pioneer Awards reflect the ongoing presence of a frontier and its pioneers. There are vast new territories before us — unknown, wildly exciting and yet potentially dangerous. The future of the electronic frontier is unclear, we are defining its character as we go along. And thus, the pioneers today are no less pioneers than those of 20 years ago.

This is of course great to hear. It’s personally satisfying, but it’s also a perfect lead-in to talk about Mozilla. Each recipient was asked to speak for about 5 minutes (or, more precisely, “more than one minute, less than 20 minutes, and somewhere between 3 and 7 minutes.”) John’s introduction let me jump right into what makes Mozilla work. Mostly I talked about how at Mozilla we know there are pioneers, because we see them every day. We have massive numbers of people working to build an Internet that has civic and social value — as well as personal economic gain — built into its fabric. I noted that we focus on interoperability, transparency, openness, participation as the social factors that build and define a great Internet experience as well as our products.

In was a very rewarding evening, and an honor to be recognized.

UN Technical Agency Honors Mozilla

June 1st, 2007

Last week I traveled to the UN in Geneva to accept the International Telecommunication Union’s World Information Society Award on behalf of Mozilla.

The ITU is the United Nations agency specializing in information and technology. The ITU predates the UN considerably, having been formed in 1865 to harmonize telegraphy, and has a venerable history both before the UN and as the UN’s technology agency.

The World Information Society Award was inaugurated in 2006. The Award honors those who have “made a significant personal contribution to promoting, building, or strengthening a people-centered, development-oriented and knowledge-based information society.” In 2006, the Laureates were President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank, a leader in the microfinance movement which has changed the lives of so many.

The 2007 Laureates are Dr. Margarita Cedeño de Fernández, First Lady of the Dominican Republic, Professor Dr Mark I. Krivocheev, Chief Scientist of the Radio Research Institute in Moscow, and Mozilla. The awards ceremony was hosted and the awards presented by the Secretary General of the ITU, Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré.

This is an enormous honor. It is a very significant recognition of the work of the Mozilla project. I want to thank the ITU for selecting Mozilla and congratulate the Mozilla community for making such an impact in people’s online lives.

The award to Mozilla is the first award not made to an individual. Mozilla may be the first Laureate not already deeply involved with the UN. The award was granted based on Mozilla’s “outstanding contribution to the development of world-class Internet technologies and applications.” The award was technically made to the Mozilla Corporation, but I accepted it on behalf of the entire Mozilla community.

This is also an important step for open source and free software. Mozilla produces consumer-facing products and so can — and is — bringing recognition of free and open source software to ever more people. The Mozilla project has now been recognized by the ITU as a fundamental actor in promoting a people-centered Internet. This should help Mozilla deliver our message more effectively, and hopefully will help raise peoples’ comfort level with other free and open source software projects.

Each Laureate was invited to make a brief address to the hand-picked audience. I spoke about Mozilla’s goals of ensuring the sustainability of an open and participatory Internet. I noted we strive for this goal through very concrete means: building software and building communities of people who participate in the Internet. I emphasized that the ability to participate is critical. It’s great to have free software to use, but the ability to get involved when one wants or needs to is the fundamental next step. I also shared the belief that human creativity is widespread, not limited to any one population or economic group, and this drives our goal of developing many possibilities of participation in building and using the Internet.

The ITU has made available (in Real Player format) a recording of the award ceremony. If you want to see only the Mozilla part, the award presentation to Mozilla starts at about 39 minutes in, and my talk starts about an hour and 12 or 13 minutes into the recording. The ITU has also created a written excerpt of the talk.

This message was well received. The reception reinforced once again how important it is to articulate our beliefs and goals clearly. We have great products, but that’s not our big message. Our message is about why our products are great — how we build them, why we build them, and how Firefox is a part of a much bigger effort with other products and projects. And the overall goal is not product centered. It is Internet-centered and it is people-centered.

The Internet should have a facet to it that is people-centered, with multiple opportunities for decentralized participation. Mozilla is building that facet of the Internet — not alone, but as a leader.

Our accomplishments are for everyone to share; our success is for all to enjoy.

Mellon Foundation Awards for Open Source Projects

April 2nd, 2007

The Andrew Mellon Foundation sponsors awards of $50,000 and $100,000 for “not-for-profit organizations for leadership in the collaborative development of open source software tools with particular application to higher education and not-for-profit activities.”

The deadline for this year’s applications is April 16th. The requirements for these awards are rather specific. The core requirements are below; more details on the requirements can be found here.

If you think you or any organization(s) you know of meet these criteria, and could make use of the grant, please visit the Mellon award site or contact: Christopher J. Mackie at (for full disclosure, I am a member of the Awards Committee).

The overview of criteria for these awards is that the organization “must have contributed its own financial and human resources to a software development project which meets all of the following criteria:

1. Is in public release (not just development) as an open source project, with source code actually available.

2. Provides a direct and demonstrably significant benefit to one or more of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s traditional constituencies. These constituencies are: higher education, with a special emphasis on the arts and humanities; libraries and scholarly communications; performing arts; conservation and the environment; or museums and art conservation.

3. Meets the Foundation’s strict standards for excellence.

4. Includes the development of intellectual property that is freely available to the academic community under one of the approved open source licenses.”

Time 100 2006

May 10th, 2006

Monday night I went to the Time 100 2006 dinner, invited as a 2005 honoree. There were some changes from last year, and the one that interested me the most was the response to Firefox. The event starts with a cocktail and mingle period, then moves to dinner and a dinner program and finishes up with more mingling afterwards for those who choose to stay. So one gets to talk with whoever is at one’s table and whoever one meets at the pre-dinner or post-dinner mingling.

Before I went, I wondered whether I would end up introducing myself to someone I really should know, and whether it would be awkward. The moment did come, but it turned out to be funny rather than awkward. I was talking with a few folks when another group came by. One person spoke up and said “Hi, I’m Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia.” “Hi, Mitchell Baker, Mozilla.” Lots of laughter. You’d think we would have meet before but we never had.

This year I felt much more comfortable wandering around, introducing myself and asking people their name and how they came at be at this event. In doing this I found that the number of people who recognized Firefox was much higher than last year. Last year I found that the younger crowd recognized Firefox. This time the recognition level across all groups was much higher. Not everyone recognized Firefox. But often I didn’t need to explain it; often someone else in the group would speak up first. It’s a good change.

Technology and Non-Profits

June 1st, 2005

One of my Mozilla-related goals for the last year or so has been to increase the outward focus of the Mozilla project. For years we’ve been so focused on getting a great applications shipped that we’ve been extremely inwardly focused. I’ve been spending a chunk of time lately meeting people who are in and around the Mozilla space, trying to get to know people involved in the consumer side of the Internet and people interested in the non-profit world. (I know a lot of the enterprise folks already, thus the focus on the consumer side.)

I had lunch yesterday with Jim Fruchterman. Jim leads the BeneTech Initiative, a non-profit high-technology organization dedicated to building sustainable technology initiatives that address social problems. I met Jim courtesy of Kevin Lenzo, open source speech technologist from Carnegie Mellon University, who had been exploring uses of open source speech-related technology for providing greater accessibility in software. BeneTech has a range of technology projects in the literacy / accessibility and human rights areas.

Talking with Jim is always great. He’s got great experience with the organizational issues that affect a non-profit. Non profits are subject to both various state laws that govern the operation of a non-profit and various federal laws that govern the tax exempt status. It’s a complex area with only a few technology organizations represented. Any many of these — such as the Apache, Perl and Python Foundations — employ very few if any full time people. So finding someone with a number of years of experience in this area is wonderful.

Jim is also experimenting with different ways of generating funds to sustain these technological projects since traditional models don’t fit. And of course he’s thinking about how to generate funds and remain true to the mission of the project. These topics are very similar to those I think about with regard to the Mozilla project. I’m always drawn in by the process of understanding different perspectives and figuring out new ways to do things and Jim and I get together periodically to trade notes. Yesterday’s conversation was particularly interesting coming so closely after the venture capital focus of last week’s Women’s Technology Cluster awards ceremony. In that case the organizational model is known and the issue is finding the people, technology and market opportunities for successful execution of the model. Jim is trying to do something different, meeting needs of groups of people who aren’t likely to ever generate large return on capital investment. These problems — literacy, accessibility, human rights — need solving, and I hope we find some ways of making our vast technical capabilities available to those who need them so badly and can pay so little.

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