Posts Tagged with “conferences”

Firefox Summit Reflections

August 26th, 2008

Late in July we got together close to 400 extremely active Mozilla contributors for a face to face gathering known as the Firefox Plus Summit. This gathering was partly acknowledgment and celebration of our work so far, and mostly preparation for the future. The Summit has caused me to reflect on the future of Mozilla. In short, that future is bright.

The overriding reason for this is the strength and vibrancy of the Mozilla community. We’re growing, we’re effective and we’re expanding the types of activities that live within Mozilla. The Summit made this very clear.

There are other reasons as well. Mozilla combines the abstract goals of Internet openness, participation and decentralized decision-making with the concrete task of building great products. This combination is working. It attracts people to Mozilla, and it gives us a way of building products that reflects the Internet itself. The values of the project bring meaning and guide the way we do things. The software allows us to make those values tangible, and put their manifestations in the hands of millions of people.

Another important element is the financial resources Mozilla enjoys. We’ve just renewed our agreement with Google for an additional three years. This agreement now ends in November of 2011 rather than November of 2008, so we have stability in income. We’re also learning more all the time about how to use Mozilla’s financial resources to help contributors through infrastructure, new programs, and new types of support from employees.

Finally, the quality of our technology, products and innovation also holds great promise. In the few weeks since the Summit we’ve already seen a new approach to vastly improving JavaScript performance, the launch of “Snowl,” the introduction of the browser concept series, developer releases for Thunderbird, and video moving into the browser via Firefox 3.1. There’s much more coming.

We have large challenges ahead of us, there’s no question of that. There are many ways in which Internet life could become closed, manipulated and decidedly unpleasant. And Mozilla itself is not perfect. Many improvements are possible in how we work and what we accomplish. To be effective we’ll need to do our best, and then do even better.

Our challenges are real, our opportunities are real, and our strength is real.

Put those together, and the future is bright.

The Mozilla Tree

July 29th, 2008

The Finished Mozilla Tree

This morning at the opening session of the Firefox Plus Summit I showed this image, which has been in the works for a while. It’s my current approach to finding a good metaphor to explain the complex nature of Mozilla. There’s a fair amount of explanation needed for this image to make sense, and I’ll try to get that posted before long.

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.

Upcoming “Firefox Plus” Summit

May 13th, 2008

For the last couple of years the Mozilla Corporation has organized and hosted an event known as the “Firefox Summit.” We’ve done this twice so far; once after the release of Firefox 1.5 and once after the release of Firefox 2. The Summits have been a gathering of the people most deeply involved in creating the just-released product, and likely to be deeply involved in the design and creation of the next version. The summits are part celebration, partly closure, and mostly planning and consensus building for the future efforts.

The Summits bring together a range of contributors, both volunteers and those employed by Mozilla and other organizations. The fundamental goals are to build closer bonds between contributors who rarely meet face to face, and to do serious planning and focusing for the future Firefox work (including the underlying platform). We also try to have some fun, of course. 🙂 Mozilla funds participation — travel, lodging, food, etc — for our volunteers. Mozilla Corporation employees are expected to attend, others attend by invitation.

We’ll be having another Summit this July. This time we plan to expand the focus a bit to move beyond Firefox and the platform technologies that make work. The main focus will still be Firefox and the technology that underlies it — that’s still the key that so much of our vitality. This includes discussions about how our products and technologies can and should move the Mozilla vision forward. And we’ll undoubtedly have discussions about building strong communities, this is an element that runs through every Mozilla activity.

Eventually it would be great to have a broader Mozilla Summit, discussing not only our technology and products but also the range of other activities that the Mozilla project is, or should think about, undertaking. We’re not ready to plan and take that one quite yet, but it’s time to see if we can broaden the focus somewhat.

We’ll clearly broaden this to include Thunderbird, email, and Internet communications. That’s an official Mozilla product that shares our technology and the Mozilla mission. We’ll undoubtedly broaden this in other ways; mobile, Weave, data, and Prism are obvious candidates.

So while we’ll probably refer to this as the “Summit” or the “Firefox Summit,” its official, somewhat-awkward name is the Firefox Plus Summit. If we knew exactly the scope we could figure out a more precise name. I came up with this name to be clear about what we do know: most discussions in the context of Firefox, not completely Firefox, not aiming to cover the entire possible scope of the Mozilla project.

We’re just starting to plan for the Summit. This includes invitees, content, how to get the most input into the discussions and how to get the results dispersed to greater audiences. We hope to make progress in the next couple of weeks, and the bulk of the content development will happen as more and more people finish up their work on Firefox 3.

FISL in Brazil

March 28th, 2008

Mozilla will be participating in the Fórum Internacional Software Livre (FISL) this April, which is exciting both for Mozilla and for me personally. FISL is a non-governmental organization that promotes the adoption, distribution and contribution of free software. This is the 9th year of the forum– hence FISL 9.0 as they put it on their site– and will be held in Porto Alegre. Over 5000 participants from a variety of backgrounds– end users, contributors, professionals, government officials, and corporate partners– will gather to meet and share ideas.

This will be my first trip to Brazil, but it is only one in a growing series of interactions between the Mozilla Foundation and free software / open source participants in Brazil. JT Batson and Asa each wrote about their trip last year, which made it very clear to us that Brazil has very high enthusiasm for free and open source software. There are also some fascinating experiments going on in Brazil today, such as energy self-sufficiency. It’s clear that greater interaction between Brazilian participants and Mozilla could have some very interesting results.

FISL will be a great chance for my Mozilla colleagues and I to learn much more about what’s happening in Brazil and how we might work more closely together. And hopefully, to meet some of the people we’ve heard so much about!

At the same time we’ll be hosting a set of activities. You can find information about Mozilla-specific events on the Mozilla wiki, and Chris Blizzard has posted an annotated schedule of events that is well worth looking at. Mozilla will be hosting a workshop on April 18, and my talk is currently scheduled for the 19th. This should be a very exciting chance to experience the free software and open source community in Brazil first-hand. Now, if only I could find a way to get my family there as well!

Two Weeks of Talking

February 6th, 2008

The last couple of weeks have been highly unusual in the number of people I’ve met and new people I’ve talked with about Mozilla, technology and hybrid organizations trying to achieve socially-oriented missions.

I spent the last ten days of January in Switzerland, first at the gathering of the Schwab Social Entrepreneurs and then at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. I attended these events last year as well, and wrote a brief post about the entrepreneurs and the annual meeting. Mozilla attends the WEF Annual Meeting as a Technology Pioneer. We attend the Social Entrepreneurs event as an invited guest; Mozilla is not a Schwab Social Entrepreneur.

Social Entrepreneurs Summit

This year the Social Entrepreneurs event was quite different from last year. At the request of the social entrepreneurs, the large sessions where people came to speak to the social entrepreneurs were eliminated. The days were spent in a series of discussion groups. The intent was to get the people who are doing things together to learn from each other, and to stop thinking that outside experts were more valuable that the practicioners.

I noticed that the discussions were also different than last year. There is a growing group of entrepreneurs that have found some way to use the market to promote their missions. This includes the Fair Trade groups — coffee, chocolate, handicrafts, the Rubicon folks in the San Francisco bay area, who are known for their bakery and landscape services, but whose goal is to provide jobs and eliminate poverty, to the Homeless World Cup, to the financing and provision of solar energy sources in rural India. A set of the discussions focused on how to build an operation at scale; how to develop depth in leadership so that the organization is bigger than the founder, how to ensure the mission remains paramount as the activities grow, and so on. These are all issues we think about at Mozilla. Mozilla is still a bit out of the mainstream as we are rooted in the ultra-modern technology world. Nevertheless, it is exciting to find a group of people solving a set of organizational topics that are so closely related to our own. The discussion groups were able to touch on these topics, not to delve in depth. Even two or three days is not enough time for in-depth solutions. So there is a constant feeling of starting to gain traction and then needing to stop. I see that as a mark of success though, indicating that good ideas have come out and there is far more to be done.

World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

The Social Entrepreneurs event is in Zurich and ends on a Tuesday afternoon. From there one gets on a train to the mountain town of Davos. The WEF Annual Meeting starts Tuesday evening and goes through Sunday. It’s an utterly exhausting week. The official events go from 8 or 9 am until 10pm. Then the unofficial events start, and go on into the morning.

Mozilla was invited last year and this year as a Technology Pioneer program, which identifies organizations “that develop and apply the most innovative and transformational technologies in the fields of information technology, renewable energy and biotechnology / health.”

We are a bit unusual as a Tech Pioneer though because we are so well known and our impact is so large. We’re not exactly like either the Social Entrepreneurs or the Tech Pioneers, although we are closely related to each.

The main impressions I had this year include:

  • Mozilla Firefox is simply taken for granted as part of the Internet. There was barely any discussion of who we are, why we matter. Last year almost everyone recognized Mozilla Firefox, but there was still a sense of surprise about our place in the world. There was no surprise this time. Of course, this is Europe, where Firefox market share reaches 30 and 40% on a country by country level so this is not surprising.
  • Many people don’t know we’re a public benefit organization, but have high attachment to the product.
  • The general theme for this year’s Annual Meeting was Innovation in Collaboration. Mozilla has a lot to say here, we are among the very innovation forces here.
  • The Mobile Web is exploding. Last year there were discussions of things like “the Connected Life.” This year the discussions were more focused on mobile connections, and what that means.
  • Global Climate Change is a given at the Annual Meeting, the tenor of the discussion is still quite different from that I hear in the United States.
  • The concern that the sub-prime mortgage and general credit woes in the United States will lead to a world-wide recession were palpable.

One of the main activities at Davos is meeting new people. It’s constant — at the coffee table, on the stairs, through introductions, at the events, on the shuttle from the convention center to the hotels, at the lunch and dinner discussions. The event is amazingly successful at getting people to open up, have varied discussions and share ideas. It’s valuable for Mozilla to have a presence and be represented as this sort of event.

Mozilla Work Week

I got back from Switzerland just in time for the Work Week in California, when a bunch of Mozilla folks had come to town for a chance to work face to face. Behind though I was, I took the opportunity to talk with a bunch of people I normally don’t see face to face. I spent a couple hours in the morning opening the door for out-of-town folks who don’t have a card key to get in. It seemed the best way to meet people — it’s pretty hard to let someone in the door and pretend we know each other. I met some of the people who’ve joined Mozilla recently, plus some people who have been active for quite a while but whom I had never met.

Work week was also the freeze for Firefox 3 Beta 3, which was very exciting. Both because a bunch of work is coming to fruition and showing up in the code. And also because this freeze was a demonstration of how far we can come on our automated testing tools and infrastructure. This is an area — like automated builds — where we’re seeing significant progress after years on waiting and wanting. The Mozilla project is so big it’s hard to keep an eye on everything that’s happening. But wherever one looks, it’s exciting.

It was great to attend the WEF and Social Entrepreneurs events. It’s also great to be back in the heart of Mozilla work. Talking and meeting people is fascinating. But doing things — building the Internet we want to see — is even better.


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.

The Internet and the Public Good

August 6th, 2007

Last week I participated in a thought symposium called The Internet and the Public Good. It was about 30 people, jointly hosted by the Mozilla Foundation, the Harvard Business School, and the Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The goal from the Mozilla Foundation’s perspective is to learn new ways to think about public benefit and the Internet. We’re a public benefit organization and it’s important to figure out what set of programs we should launch beyond the support of our current projects. So it’s worth exploring whether there is understanding outside of the open source world about public benefit that can help us.

The symposium started out with a discussion of a “public good.” It turns out that a “public good” has a specified meaning in the realm of economics. So there was a lot of discussion about what a public good is, what it means to be a public good, how public goods have been regulated, how public goods might differ in different parts of the world.

A couple of very interesting comments came out. The discipline of economics can separate three things: a public good, public interest and public provision. Public goods are as described above. Public interest (or public benefit) can be generated by either private or public goods. Either public or private good can be provided by public sources (e.g., government) or private sources. (Of course, as a normative issue, one generally hopes that if a government funds something, there is a public benefit to it.)

This has helped me state more precisely what is of interest to me personally. (I’m not speaking for the Mozilla Foundation here). I want to ensure that the Internet has robust public interest aspects. That the Internet has social, civic and individual benefits as well as commercial benefits. I suppose one could call this ensuring the Internet has robust non-commercial aspects. But this is a negative approach. I’m not against commercial activity being a vibrant part of Internet development. On the contrary, I believe commercial activity brings great value to individuals and society.

But I don’t want to live in a world where the only thing the Internet is useful for, or effective at, or pleasant or fun, are activities where someone is making money from me.

In addition, I want public benefit to be provided by both public and private actors. I hope the Mozilla project can push more actors, including commercial players in the Internet space, to provide more public benefits.

Foo Camp 2007

June 25th, 2007

This weekend was the O’Reilly Foo Camp for 2007. Foo was big this year — about 300 people. And wildly varying types of people — pretty much anyone the O’Reilly folks think is interesting.

When I got home yesterday, I realized that this weekend was extremely disconnected for me. That’s highly unusual at an O’Reilly event. In part it’s because I always choose to camp in the orchard, rather than camp out in the building space available or get a hotel room. There’s no power in the camping area, and my stuff is a ways away from the activities. In past years I’ve carried my computer around with me. This year I just left it in my pack in my tent, along with my phone. And I wasn’t alone. Of course there were plenty of people with computers, but there were also a bunch of us traveling light.

This year the facilities also encouraged disconnectedness. There were a lot fewer conference rooms available; more of the building space is in use and off-limits to Foo Campers. So the O’Reilly folks set up a bunch of rent-a-tents in the parking lot as discussion areas. The tents each had a table, chairs and a white board, but no power. That meant no projectors and no computer-based presentations. It also meant almost no one took their computers to the tents. There was very little multi-tasking — very little searching the web for info, reading mail, IMing, twittering, whatever.

All there was to focus on was the discussion, which as a result sometimes felt quite slow. The topics were broad enough that several different conversations would bounce back and forth. And there was nothing to do but listen when the conversation veered off in a direction tangential to my thoughts. For example, one tent session was “How to Measure the Health of Communities.” It was fascinating, but had many different ideas in it. A few of us are involved in technology communities and so had some clear goals and thus some obvious clear measurements. Others are involved in organizing tech and civic groups. A couple of people were interested in “social groups” and when these become communities. Many were interested in figuring out what the goals of a particular community might be. The conversation wandered around among these. One person kept trying to get the group back to the identified topic, how do we measure? I don’t think it was a very successful effort though.

The measurement piece is of great interest to me — other organizations have a lot to teach Mozilla. The session introduced me to people with similar interests, and then tickled my brain with all sorts of different ideas related to communities.

Usually the O’Reilly events are a combination of high connectedness and then running into people and talking. This one had the usual can’t-get-to-my-first-cup-of-coffee-because-there-are-too-many-interesting-
people-between-me-and-the-coffee, but-I’m-too-foggy-brained-to-be-coherent-yet feeling. (Tara Hunt rescued me with her personal coffee stash, starting Sunday off right for a bunch of us.)

I realized that the disconnectedness of many of the sessions I attended meant that each of us participated with exactly the resources we brought with us — our own experience, expertise, and abilities. The sessions would have been different with real-time Internet access. The session on “Social Implications of Craft” would have been different with access to the various definitions of “craft“. Without this we spent some time recreating these definitions, so there was less efficiency. But the trade-off was a much more personal discussion; and a much more exploratory discussion.

Now it’s time to dive back in to normal life.

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