we appreciate your understanding in this matter

I’m back from my world tour, and I’m working to catch up on the backlog that resulted from — well, from working pretty hard for two weeks, but not in a way that correlated with staying on top of my email.

In order to assist me in getting caught up, I would appreciate it if people would not send email, post to newsgroups, file or amend bugs, post to forums, add entries to their blogs, or write documents for, oh, let’s say 3 days. That’d be great, thanks.

Arigatou gozaimasu

The Firefox Developers Conference here in Tokyo is, simply, amazing. We have more than 150 people here, it’s very well-organized, and the simultaneous translation is basically a form of black magic. They apparently even did a great job with my keynote, and since my speed-talking is the sort of thing that translators use to scare their children into bed at night, I think you can perhaps appreciate how impressed I am. I’m hungry and tired, but the presentations have been well worth the long day. Mark and Justin did great presentations, and there have been some excellent discussions about AMO, extension localization, documentation, FUEL, and many other topics.

Also: I started to use Flickr to gather my photos from this trip, including some pictures from our trip to Tsukiji. I’m pretty pleased with my new camera, which does a pretty good job of hiding photographic incompetence.

my hovercraft is entirely full of eels

I arrived in Tokyo yesterday afternoon, as did Mark and Justin, and while I can’t speak for them, I have been spending most of my waking time just absorbing the sheer awesomeness of the place. I’ve never been anywhere before where I didn’t have at least a basic, grasping-for-comprehension ability to decipher the language, so it’s an entirely new level of foreign, and I’m loving it. It’s sort of like being in Star Wars, so far.

Yesterday we deciphered the train system and the multi-terminal nature of Narita to get to the hotel, and were then treated to some most righteous shabu-shabu by Gen and Kaori, so the visit is definitely off on the right foot. I mostly travel with my stomach, as some better writer than me once said, and Japanese cuisine is one of my favourites in the world.

In about 10 minutes, which is to say at a mere five and quarter hours after midnight, Justin and Gen and I will be departing to Tsukiji, to look at a huge amount of fish and the commerce that surrounds them. I’m already a little hungry, so things could get a bit grisly! (Vanity Fair has a good article about Tsukiji if you find the Wikipedia one a little dry.)

Once we’re done at Tsukiji, and have changed and showered and perhaps breakfasted, we have a pretty wild day ahead of us of meeting journalists and partners, and preparing for tomorrow’s highly-anticipated Developer Conference, at which I will try to morph my metaphor-heavy, rapid-fire style of presentation into something that will not cause the translators and/or audience to strangle me on stage. I’m excited!

why is that an “or” question?

Recently, we’ve seen a fair bit of energy around the idea of mozpad, a group of “platform consumers” who are rallying together to advocate and work for the future of different aspects of the Mozilla application platform. I’ll admit that my first reaction to this was a sort of mildly wounded skepticism; I’m the guy responsible for how we support developers, and it’s easy to take it a bit personally when someone throws up a flag for supporting developers and people flock to it — over there. That’s the great, if occasionally uncomfortable, thing about Mozilla, though: discomfort on my part can’t and doesn’t keep people from helping to determine their own technological destiny in the project, and as with other such projects, the mozpad members are able to choose how to engage their own projects with the rest of the Mozilla community and contribute to our shared technological resources. As I came to realize after the second or third time that Matthew Gertner told me, mozpad is a great opportunity for people building applications on the XUL/Gecko/Mozilla platform to organize loosely around their own concerns, and share resources to improve things that are asymmetrically important to their collection of apps vs. Firefox or the web platform. At the end of the day, as before and always, individuals and organizations will contribute to the project in ways that best suit their own missions, whether that’s furthering the principles of the Manifesto or building a business or changing how people communicate or something else.

It’s easy to get caught in tricks of language or simplifications that make it sound as though a group like mozpad is something different from Mozilla, or has to interact with other parts of Mozilla in certain ways. mozpad is inevitably and inherently a part of the Mozilla project, as many of the people who have self-identified with their work have been in their own right before. If having their own web site and explicit group identity will help them organize and focus better on how to solve the problems they face in their use of the Mozilla platform, that’s a fine path to take, and all the world will benefit from it. The Mozilla community is riddled with nested communities of varying structures and sizes, organized around languages, applications, technical problems, services, platforms and shoe sizes. Some of them persist for years, while others disperse after a few days. That mix of structured protection of shared resources and free-wheeling project agility to solve problems is really quite powerful, and well worth the occasional bumping of heads when people’s expectations don’t quite line up at first.

For my part, I’m committed to helping mozpad achieve their goals of improving life for application and extension developers, because, really, that’s always what I’ve been about anyway. I was mozpad before it was cool! Yeah, that’s it!

targeting assistance

Gerv asked when I’d be in London, and a couple of other people have asked similar questions, so I thought I’d just publish here for the sake of posterity. When I’m in Japan I’m a day ahead, sort of, so all dates are local, or something.

  • June 10-11: Boston
  • June 11-13: Vancouver
  • June 14-18: Tokyo
  • June 18-21: Munich
  • June 21-24: Paris
  • June 24-26: London

Do with that information what you will.

taking it on the road

On Sunday morning — they have a 6 in the morning now, which is an innovation that I’m sure benefits someone — I left for the airport to embark on a 16-day, 6-city, 41-flight-hour, 30,000-kilometre world tour. What got me out of bed that early in the morning? The same thing that gets me out of bed most mornings these days: helping people understand, contribute to, and benefit from the incredible power of the open web.

So I’ll be literally travelling around the world, meeting with partners and co-conspirators, talking to the press and developers, telling people what the open web is all about, learning how to tell that story in a compelling and energizing way, and trying to remember to stretch every few hours. Along the way I hope to hear a lot of other stories about the open web: its successes, its challenges, its surprising consequences, its possible futures. The open web is bigger than Mozilla, and the challenge ahead of us is to frame the discussion in a way that is inclusive of other perspectives, while staying true to the strengths and values which make the web such an amazing thing. And, more specifically, ahead of me. It’s an amazing opportunity to meet with some of the people who help make Mozilla a force for good in the world of technology, and I’m going to try to share the experience through my blog.

I’m boarding for Vancouver now to meet with ActiveState — who have been members of the Greater Mozilla Community for many years — coming from a brief visit in Boston featuring, among others, Nicholas Reveille of the Miro project (nĂ© Democracy). Already I’m seeing new challenges and opportunities for the web in areas of participatory video and media, and I’ve barely started on my trip. I’ll be in Tokyo and Paris at the developer days, in Munich and London to meet with press and other interested folk, and stopping in Denver and Frankfurt only briefly to sample their airport amenities. If you’re in one of those places and are willing to try to juggle with my full and fluid schedule, let me know and I’ll do what I can to meet up. I’m always excited to meet more Mozilla and web folks, and I’m usually a soft touch for a drink or two.

As my wife knows only too well, I can talk about Mozilla and the web all day, every day, and never get tired of it. I’m emotionally invested in the web, I take threats to its integrity personally and seriously, and I think there’s a fight brewing over the future of how people use technology to communicate, collaborate, do business, and share experiences. I hope to infect some people with my passion on this trip, and come back with a more comprehensive sense of what makes the web special to everyone else.