fertilizer

Mitchell posted earlier about my new focus: our developer ecosystem, and helping people produce great new tools and experiences on top of Firefox and the web both. It’s work that lets me combine technology, communication, and helping people solve their problems, and if I end up being even a fifth as good at it as I am excited about it — well, I’ll be really good, that’s what!

One important part of Mozilla’s support for developers in their work with Firefox and the web is the Mozilla Developer Centre Center, and I’ll be working with Deb and Eric to help MDC grow and thrive. In just over a year, MDC has developed a strong community of contributors and a great base of documentation, so I consider my job here to be helping Deb execute, and staying out of her way. (She is modest about it, and truly MDC is a fantastic example of the leverage that our community represents — and I include web developers in that community, very much — but Deb’s work to catalyze and guide and generally be MDC’s “guiding star” is not to be underestimated.) There are things to be fixed and problems to be solved, to be sure, and anyone who’s worked with me before knows that I can’t help but try to help when that’s the case, but the course we’re already on is very promising.

(As an aside of sorts, the recent newsgroup re-re-organization is a problem to which I owe a karmic debt, and I’ll post about that here and there this week, hopefully today.)

A bigger part of what I’m going to be working on, though, is what my favourite MBA calls “the extensions space” (my favourite trapeze artist would call it “the extensions piece”, I think). Working tirelessly, though again with an energetic and powerful community, Mike Morgan has been driving addons.mozilla.org through growing pains and scaling demands — popular stuff is hard! — and policy grey areas and likely some fire-breathing sharks or something too. He thinks deeply about the risks and hard decisions that we face as we try to make extensions — or, more broadly, a personalized web experience — attractive and appropriate for a broader portion of our users, and the users we don’t yet have. Working out a strategy for how to fit extensions into our product plans, how to help extension developers be even more productive and successful and happy, and how to maximally leverage the power of our platform, community, and brand to the benefit of the Web at large is an enormous and, I admit, somewhat daunting challenge. I look forward to drawing on my Mozilla knowledge, impeccable taste, and, especially, the experience and wisdom of people like morgamic to improve this part of our world materially. And I look forward to doing it very soon: while there are definitely long-term projects that deserve our attention, I’m starting to believe that there are some small (hopefully!) but significant changes that can make a positive change in the rather near future.

I’m trying to avoid letting “write a thorough and Frank-worthy post” be the enemy of “write a useful and, you know, posted post”, or something like that, so I think I’ll stop here. I want to thank everyone who has already sent me their (varied, and thought-provoking) thoughts on what’s good and bad today in with our world of extensions, and apologize pre-emptively for what will no doubt be rather tardy replies. I have a lot to absorb here, and nobody is bothering to ask easy questions.

high fidelity

(I can only barely forgive myself for that title. I hope you can manage as well.)

After my previous post about Fidelity and Firefox, Rafael pointed me at another article about Fidelity’s adoption of Firefox. A gem from that one, emphasis mine:

Recently the center began testing the open-source Firefox browser, an alternative to Microsoft’s dominant Internet Explorer. Charlie Brenner, a Fidelity senior vice president in charge of the center, says the idea came from engineers in his department who were using it at home and liked Firefox’s advanced features, such as the ability to open new browser windows in tabs rather than in a whole separate browser, and its promise of being more secure from hacker attacks than Explorer.

Someone else agrees with, or is perhaps experiencing, my current theory on enterprises and our software: we’re better off trying to get to enterprises via users, and not the other way around. Dunno if the same logic holds for other disruptive software, especially our open source cousins, but I think that the following three-step plan is probably as useful as many wordier ones that are getting funding and publicity today:

  1. Make it easy for users to try and love your software where they can most comfortably do so (e.g., at home).
  2. Make it them wish they could have it elsewhere (e.g., at work).
  3. Help them sell it to the people who can make that wish come true.

I could easily write paragraphs upon paragraphs about each of those bullet points, talking about things like minimizing change cost and playing to the unique scaling strengths of open source communities, but you can all probably imagine what it’d look like. And I don’t have to type or edit your imaginings, so we all win.

Of course, I am not a millionaire entrepreneur success story, teenage software genius, proven technology futurist, or even venture-funded experimenter, so it’s quite likely that you can get better advice elsewhere.

in good hands

Today I had the great luck of being able to spend a bit of time talking to Frank Hecker about the role of the Foundation in a world in which we have a Corporation to really focus on product and technology issues. I think there’s a lot of worthwhile work there, and I’m really looking forward to the Foundation being able to devote much more energy to the broader governance and “philosophical” issues of the project, the web, and open source.

What a tremendous time to be involved with Mozilla!

jsr

I lost a week to a horrible bout of insomnia — I cannot recommend it to you, my loyal viewers, even for experimental purposes — and then “lost” most of a week to a great management offsite and HQ visit. So I’m quite a ways behind in putting to bed various post-drafts about, especially, identity and Firefox’s disruptive potential. I’ve blocked off a fair bit of time this week to catch up on those things, as gently egged on by Kim and Frank.

I’ve also had a lot of interesting personal stuff going on, but that’s not really planet material, so it’ll be in another post or few.