Mozilla has just filed its audited financial statements for 2009. This is the perfect time to look at the state of the Mozilla mission, our successes, our opportunities and our challenges. This year we’re trying a different format to better reflect the scope of Mozilla and to make better use of video and visual information. We’re hosting this year’s State of Mozilla and Financial Statements at our main website rather than at this blog. Please take a look!
Posts Tagged with “history”
November 18th, 2010
August 31st, 2010
I’ve known Dan Mosedale a long time. He was already at Netscape working in the browser realm when I arrived in the fall of 1994. In fact, of all the people working on Mozilla and browsers in the world today, I think Dan was probably the first. Not the person with the longest continual history (Dan has taken some breaks), but the first chronologically.
I got to know Dan well when we both joined Mozilla full time in 1999. We had both been working on Mozilla part-time since before its founding, Dan on the IT/infrastructure side and me on the MPL and organizational aspects. We both joined Brendan at Mozilla full time at the same time in early 1999, as did Mike Shaver. In that era the very small group of us managing the project were known as “mozilla.org staff.”
In the next few years mozilla.org staff (which also came to include Myk, Asa and Marcia) made a number of decisions about the Mozilla project that we know put our jobs at Netscape/ AOL at risk. Each time we would all look at each other and make sure we understood what we were doing. We would plan how to keep mozilla.org up and running. In this we had support from many other long time Mozilla contributors who are with Mozilla today, including Chris Hofmann who ultimately became the liaison between mozilla.org staff and Netscape/ AOL after our decisions did cause me to be fired (technically “laid off”).
A couple years ago I mentioned to Dan that I had decided to learn to ice skate, since there’s a skating rink near my house. Dan suggested I try hockey, that despite its appearance it can be much less risky and worrisome than figure skating. I recall vividly his comment that once he has all his gear on, falling became mostly irrelevant. I’ve remembered this each time I’ve fallen without pads — the ice can be hard. Not every fall hurts, but the idea of falling is inhibiting.
Saturday night was Give Hockey a Try Day, with a session at the local rink. The Northern California Women’s Hockey League, a volunteer organization focused on getting women to play and enjoy hockey, takes this seriously. Members donate their gear for the session. They invite women of all skill levels and all ages. (One current coach had no idea how to skate when she started.) Members come with their gear, members come to help neophytes get dressed, member coaches come and get everyone out on the ice. In two hours you go from never having worn hockey skates or held a hockey stick to passing and scrimmaging. Poor quality scrimmaging for sure, but also sometimes hysterically funny as a result. The great thing is that once you’re thinking about the puck, you stop worry about the skating.
In Dan’s honor I rammed myself into the wall to make myself fall. He was right — it was barely noticeable, and not remotely inhibiting.
The NCWHL folks were universally positive and supportive. They end the event with a gear sale so that newcomers can get somewhat worn-out gear for very little money and get started in league play without a lot of expense. I travel too much and have far too little time to add anything structured to my life but still love the sense of racing around the ice not worried about knees and elbows and jaws.
The evening also reminded me of how astonishing people can be when they love what they are doing. As Esther Dyson keeps reminding me, a vibrant civil society is an awesome thing.
June 7th, 2009
Two artifacts from the Mozilla 1.0 release have got my mind spinning. They are the Mozilla press release for Mozilla 1.0, thoughtfully reprinted in part in an article by Glyn Moody at ComputerWorld, and the T-shirt Tristan posted.
First I noticed how consistent how core message has been. Here’s a couple of excerpts:
Mozilla.org is excited about releasing the Mozilla 1.0 code and development tools to the open source community, and providing developers with the resources they need to freely create and view the presentation of their content and data on the Web,” said Mitchell Baker, Chief Lizard Wrangler at mozilla.org. “As the browser has become the main interface between users and the Web over the past several years, the goal of the Mozilla project is to innovate and enable the creation of standards-compliant technology to keep content on the Web open.”
Mozilla 1.0 will be available in the following languages (with more to follow): Asturian, Chinese, Dutch, Estonian, Galician, German,Georgian, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Malay, Polish, Slovak, Sorbian and Ukrainian.
The message from 7 years ago was focused at developers and not so much on consumers, but it’s the same message. Open content and data, standards, Mozilla as a platform enabling many people to innovate, the importance of the browser to the general state of the Web, and the importance of a multi-language Web — these are key themes today as then.
Second, I’m struck by how we have expanded our reach by reaching out to consumers as well as developers. In the early days, the idea was that Mozilla would build technology, and others (such as Netscape) would build products. In fact, in the the very early days some people felt that Mozilla would release only source code, that even releasing an executable version was beyond the scope of the project. Clearly we’ve come a long way.
Tristan’s shirt shows the developer focus. How does one announce the release of a product? By closing a bug, of course. How does one represent this on a t-shirt? By printing the URL of the bug-tracking system. Today we complement the developer focus with a consumer focus as well. That’s a big change.
Finally, I must have worked on that press release in the cold and funky downstairs computer zone in my house — 2002 was during the period in which I was a volunteer at Mozilla after being “laid off” by Netscape / AOL in the fall of 2001. Next week I’ll move to a new Mozilla office. It’s a long way from 2002.
June 4th, 2009
We started building Mozilla browsers 11 years ago now. Our first “product” release was Mozilla 1.0, on June 5, 2002. Wired reminded me of this today, in a nice historical piece on the 7th anniversary. I find it extremely gratifying that Wired, as well as others, remembers that first release and choose to note its anniversary. It wasn’t Firefox, but we were proud of Mozilla 1.0, and I still think rightly so.
The anniversary has my mind spinning about a project that’s been kicking around in various forms. I would like to create a sort of timeline of Mozilla that is personal. Somewhat related to the existing timeline project, but focused on Mozilla contributors rather than events. I’d like to have some way to visualize when people came to Mozilla, what brought each of us. I have a story to tell, and I’m sure most active contributors do. I’d like to collect these somehow, with a way to visualize it. In other words, not just text or stories or books or posts, but something that makes use of the stunning ability we have today to visualize and interact with data.
Any ideas welcome.
June 30th, 2008
Late last week a colleague expressed dismay that we didn’t have either a recorded version or a text version of the brief comments I made from Seoul via Air Mozilla on the release day of Firefox 3. So I took my notes and put them together into something that is close — certainly in spirit — though not exact.
Every once in a while — for those people who are really lucky — we get to experience a moment where everything comes together. A period where dreams and hard work merge together with remarkable results.
This is such a time for Mozilla.
It’s based on hard work and execution of course. The number of people who have done something unexpected in the last few months, something that changes the outcome, is very high. But that’s only part of it. And there are plenty of times in life — most of life for most people, in fact — where people work hard and pour themselves into their effort but don’t experience the lift and buoyancy of sense of validation.
The periods that are so memorable often involve a team of people, and something that makes that group of people cohesive and satisfying. Sometimes these periods involve working on something that seems giant, hard to achieve and meaningful. Often then involve many things coming together in a way almost didn’t seem possible. And they involve a response from the world at large that demonstrates all the work and energy was worth it.
It’s incredibly fortunate to experience this at all. And it’s intensely gratifying to see these things come together for Mozilla. It’s not just Firefox, it’s the entire Mozilla community. Firefox reflects the Mozilla community, giving us a chance to see how broad and deep the Mozilla world is, and how much can be accomplished. Eight million people — not only aware of a piece of software but acting on that awareness — in a day is astonishing.
The excitement isn’t all about a piece of software. The real activity is about the Internet. It’s about people not just using but also creating the Internet; creating an experience that is fun, safe, and productive. The Internet is a big deal. The ability to participate in creating it is a big deal. It’s rare that such a fundamental resource can be created by voluntary individual participation.
We can see that people sense the opportunity, want to participate, want to build and are more willing to share than might have been expected. We see this in the open source world, we see it in activities like Wikipedia, we see it in the growing range of activities using an “open source” model.
Mozilla has a role to play here. What a great place to be.